TV cameras everywhere, blinding lights and lots of microphones all around me, fans calling my name or holding out pens so that i could sign on their cycling shirts ...
no, it didn't happen quite like that - and being a geek, i would have been very uncomfortable if it did :)
I read about the Cebe 12hr event on the hub, and figured it would be good training for the Rogaine the end of the month. I haven't done much since Transbaviaans - a sprint here, a coffee-ride there - so would have been way too slow to enter in a team. There's much less pressure if you ride solo - you can swim if it's too hot, stop for any excuse like lubing the bike, altering seat height, cleaning the gear cables, putting lights on. Much less pressure and hopefully a lot of fun.
The venue was originally going to be at Teak Place, one of my all-time favourite playgrounds, but it was moved to avianto (muldersdrift). 'Twas a boring-ish route with a few steep turns on loose gravel, a niiiice downhill, a climbie that i took in granny from lap one, a stunning piece of singletrack in a forest on an old railwayline, and some short steep technical-ish climbies before you enter the transition zone again.
There was enough space to pass, but the first few laps we had to share the tracks with the 22k funriders and the 5k juniors. I thought the track was a bit rough for the size of the kiddies on the course, but it didn't seem to phase them - the future of South Africa's mountain biking looks great! I knew i had all day to cycle, so did't mind waiting my turn to get past them - but it must have been scary for the youngsters when they were passed by the racing snakes :(
Race started at 9. About 8.5 kays per lap. I did a few laps (4, i think) before stopping to refill for water. Noticed the leaderboard but didn't stop to figure out how it works - i wanted to complete two more laps before a lunchbreak. So 3 hours into the race i got to see what was going on - liked it, and didn't like it at the same time. I was first female - but i was also second overall. My strategy changed: i know i'm not fast, so if i wanted to hang onto that 2nd position, i simply had to continue cycling.
I'm getting too old for this. Wrists were very sore after a few hours. Then my feet started complaining. Then my back, and finally my neck. Good grief, it's not like i've never been on a bike before!
Afternoon was very hot - i never stopped to jump in the pool. I did stop to refill with water/ice/usn on every lap - was consuming more than a litre per lap during the midday-laps. The huge ice tub in the transition zone never ran out of USN.
Agteros came to say hi and cheer me on a bit :)
Finally the sun went down. Stopped, fitted lights, lubed the bike, ate everything i had in the car, relaxed a bit at the Graham/GuyP/Wheelsuck/Deon/Albert gazebo, and got on the bike again.
(did i mention that Deon did the morning's trailrun, then the 12hrs, and interrupted it for the evening trailrun?? ouch!!)
Ahhh there's just something about nightriding. The big light didn't work, so I had the princeton tec helmetlight only - but that was good enough. Fairylights on a small bridge where we had to go under, glosticks on all the directional markers. Climbies, downhills, steep off-camber turns that i did 15 times or more in daylight, suddenly came alive. That's why i cycle!
Wheelsuck waited for me so that we could do the final lap together - he was the winner and the guy whom i chased all day. thx that was so sweet! but my gears were not playing along, the headlight was fading fast, and i was tired - so i declined.
So i still haven't finished a race with people cheering and tv cameras capturing the moment.
I'm getting too old for this! I slept the whole of Sunday, getting up only to eat or drink. Sore wrists, feet, ankles, neck, back, good grief!
I see there's a 10-hr coming up in November :D