Shortest of the qualifiers

I’m cheating again somewhat by recycling the report I wrote for Audax SA on the Cape BRM 200km. I’m already 2 blog entries behind, and this weekend is both the Junior Argus and the main Argus rides (more on that later). So some shortcuts are needed to avoid falling even further behind by next Rather than just regurgitating the official account though, I’ll start with some thoughts and observations of my own.

The 6am start was quite a luxury for a change, albeit not one which was universally liked by all of the riders. Some would have preferred to be underway earlier and finish before the full heat of the day. Planning and agreeing the PBP qualifier routes took a fair amount of effort to get right. Having successfully ridden each of them in the 2014 series the smart decision was to stick to the same routes for the 2015 rides.

Starting out felt a little odd. Having ridden the toughest qualifying distances, here we were heading out on a ride marginally shorter than my first DC – a milestone ride which kicked my long distance cycling into gear more than two years ago. It was easy to be complacent, and we did set off at a cracking pace. Even with a puncture, we were at the first control not that long after it’s official opening time. The pace backed off a little on to Darling, especially towards the end of the leg where my energy levels started to flag. In spite of that, even as far as the third control at Malmesbury on the way back, we were still making rapid progress. Here though, in hindsight I made a fuelling error. Rather than stoking up again, I figured the big meal we’d eaten in Darling would be fine and just opted for a ice cream and a Coke, some sipped and some in my bidon.

I pulled strongly out of Malmesbury, but with around 30km still to go the tank ran dry and the legs started to cramp. I suspect in fact it wasn’t so much a lack of food, but the wrong fuel at the last control. I was on the downside of a nasty sugar spike, rather than actually running low on fuel. Either way, I limped along the last section with Peter kindly keeping me company. Both Theunis and Hendrik were still feeling strong and finished about 10 mins ahead of me. It was an enjoyable ride though, and yet another valuable lesson in the value of eating proper food, and getting ride pacing right. The 200km may be the shortest of all qualifiers – but it’s still an endurance ride, and more than capable of kicking you in the cycling pants if you underestimate it.

WC200 Report 17-Jan

WC 200km BRM, Stellenbosch
Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 qualifier
17 January 2015, 06:00
by Rob Walker

The 2015 Cape Audax events kicked off with the shortest of the SR Series rides, a 200km brevet. It seems word is slowly spreading about the local long distance events, with the largest field to date of 17 riders gathering at Vrede Wines for the 6am start.

Routing and timings were kept the same as those for the 2014 event, the only change being removal of the unnecessary outbound Malmesbury control. The later than usual start of 6am was set based on the opening time of the first control, the Du Vlei farm stall in Hermon. And a most welcoming oasis it provided as the initial stop for riders – providing not just excellent coffee and food, but even a handsome official stamp together with signature to grace brevet cards.

With the potential for hot and windy conditions developing during the day, riders opted to bypass a lengthy breakfast stop in favour of a quick cup of coffee and refuel, and an early depart for the next control. With no need to stop in Malmesbury, faster groups of riders reached Darling by mid-morning. As they returned along the R315, greetings and banter were exchanged with later riders still on their way out to the control. By lunchtime, all riders had made it to the Darling control, some choosing to stop for generous portions of burgers and chips at Café Mosaic next to the official Spa shop control in town. Sadly none had time to visit SA icon, Evita se Peron, before turning back toward Malmesbury.

Malmesbury Engen was the third stop, familiar now to riders as a control on 3 of the brevets. It seems our arrival is starting to become known to the staff too. Their reception was cheerful and helpful – providing receipts and signing cards, even though most opted this time not to stop in at the Wimpy for coffee and food as has become something of a custom on the longer rides.

What can be said about the section from Malmesbury back to Vrede? For some reason this leg appears on 3 of the 4 rides despite being – to borrow Chris van Zyl’s words  – “one of his least favourite stretches of road in The Cape”. Unfortunately, it is a prime link back to Vrede for any route northward. On the 200, this was where the price was paid for the 6am start, with most riders tackling this last 48km in the worst of the heat and a rather stiff headwind. Tail end riders on the longer brevets tend to navigate these last few Km in cooler and less windy conditions around dusk.

In spite of the heat and wind, all 17 riders finished inside the 13 hour 20 minute cut-off – with times being spread out across almost the whole window of opening to closing time of the Arrivée control. The fastest riders were home almost too early for the control opening, and the final rider rolled home around half an hour inside the closing time.

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