About 2 weeks before the Coronation Double Century, Claire asked me if I would be interested in joining the MTD team and of course I said yes!
I hadn't truly realized what I had gotten myself into until the night before when we were talking about doing 200+km in under 7hours! This sounded crazy.I had never cycled more than 120km in a day and earlier this year, I cycled the 99er (less than half the distance) and that had taken me 5 and a half hours!
While the others were making sandwiches and freezing 3 bottles, I was panicking and calculating how many calories I had to eat on the bike. Luckily Brent was there to help me cut my bananas and calm my nerves. Before climbing into bed, I slipped my study notes into my lunch bag (because I really didn't think I would finish being part of such a fit team).
We woke up to such a beautiful morning and it was so great seeing all the teams dressed in their matching outfits. The excitement was real! 5 minutes before our start, I had minor mechanic issues and Aaron had my bike in multiple pieces. Luckily, I was still able to get to the start line in time (Thanks Aaron!)
We made sure to start the race off relatively chilled. Fred (our team captain) kept checking what our heart rates were and didn’t want us to push just yet. Just before Helshoogte, Fred paired each girl with a strong male cyclist. I was lucky to be paired with Craig, who has completed the race 13 times. Craig cycled next to me and pushed me up the climb. When we got to what felt like the top of Helshoogte, I thanked Craig for the help and his reply was 'Don't thank me yet, we're not at the top!’ I couldn’t believe we still had over 160km to go!
At the hour mark Craig asked me if I had eaten anything yet. I said “yes” but, to be honest I didn’t know how to eat my food on the bike! A skill which I quickly learnt how to do. I also learnt about drafting and was able to sit in different positions within the group and feel the difference.
Our next big climb was up Op De Tradouw. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to keep my heart rate low and was reaching max HR going up what felt like a never ending climb! Once we reached the top, the race was pretty free flowing to our first water point.
At the water point we were met by Sam and Brent, who had nicely laid out all of our bags and were ready to help us where ever they could. The team work, by both the cyclists and from Sam and Brent, was awesome.
We managed to eat some food, fill up our bottles and headed for our next 40km before we would see them again. At the second stop we were given bottles of Coke and Mariella's INCREDIBLE date balls. I think the stops were great and made the race a little more do-able.
Throughout the cycle the scenery was beautiful and the team work was great! (I even managed to get a couple pushes from Price up the hills – still wondering if it was planned for the cameras or not).
The last 30km were tough for me. Fred pretty much pushed me the entire way! The feeling of accomplishment, firstly when seeing Swellendam and then when crossing the finish line, was overwhelming.
We managed to finish in 6 hours and 24 minutes. The scenery, atmosphere and team work made it a pretty amazing day out. I learnt so much about cycling, team work and about pushing myself. DC is possibly the best race I have ever been a part of. I loved every minute riding DC with the MTD team and looking forward to the next one.