CORONATION DOUBLE CENTURY 2014-2ND PLACE

So I was lucky enough to be invited back to the Hotchillee experience for this year’s Double Century cycle race that sweeps through the beautiful regions in and around Swellendam, Western Cape.

This, for many riders, is  one of the highlights on the cycling calendar. It marks the closing of the racing season, the beginning of a training season for the pros, and generally an immense amount of fun and comradery….but this is all made possible by the Hotchillee group. They seem to get the ingredients right..from picking their 12 men who are going to suffer together, to the way in which the weekend is organized and run…right down to the wonderful back up team that supports us, without which we would still be splattered across the roads of Bonnievale…

 

This year the Hotchillee crew decided to mix things up a bit and split the racing snakes into two teams, partly due to the high numbers of international pro riders that were on the squad for the event..

Both teams were incredibly well balanced and matched, with a good blend of fully fledged pro bike riders and a bunch of serious amateurs.

I found myself in notable company once again with Ben Swift from Sky Pro Cycling, as well as James Cunnama-iron man champ, Dan Halksworth, another iron man champ, Nic Dlamini who has just signed a pro contract with MTN Qubeka, Jaryd Haley, pro MTB rider from cape town, and Shameeg Salie who just won the one toner in cape town…..no pressure!

The team plan was laid out swiftly by Ben himself the night before…we were riding for the “sacred six”…the last survivors who have to cross that finish line together for the team’s time to be official.

The race started well…12 machines and their bikes in perfect harmony and synchrony…there is something about riding together, not saying a word, feeling that rush of air through the helmet, that gush of adrenaline through the veins, and listening to the rumbling of our wheels as they eat through tarmac..

We blistered through the first 120km in just under 3 hours….I was feeling good….way better than I did one year prior to that…the thought crossed my mind…perhaps I could make it to the end with the pros??

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Then it was on towards Robertson..by then our riders started feeling the miles seeping into their weary legs, and one by one we started falling off the pace….with 7 riders left at 150km, I knew that I may have no choice but to be there for the finish..

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When our Captain Craig was the 6th rider to leave us, the writing was on the wall….4 pros, and 2 amateurs left…I was going to have to dig deep!

But still, the legs were feeling great….that is part of the reason why cycling is such a great leveler, and why when you enter the cave of pain, you need a serious spot light to illuminate your way..

At 195km in,I felt it…that unmistakable squeeze of lactic acid in the calves….but closing my eyes I tried to forget that I was inducing ischemic damage to my muscle fibres…I held on, and with everything left in my body crossed that finish line for team Hotchille 2..we had blown last year’s time out of the water…we had climbed onto the 2nd step of the podium in a time of 5 hours 9 minutes, 7 minutes off first place.

What an unbelievable team effort, a fantastic bunch of guys, a back up team that got us home, and a feeling of mutual commitment and suffering that strangely enough makes the sport of cycling so amazing.

Thank you Hotchillee for another wonderful experience…So looking forward to the next one!

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