I’ve only ever done the Double Century once before – last year. On a mountain bike. A mountain bike with thick off-road tyres and suspension. It was tough but it was an amazing race. We averaged 31kph on those heavy horses and as much as I enjoyed the camaraderie in the Rawson team I secretly wished I was on a road bike instead. – By Aaron Borrill
In fact, some of you may recall reading my 2015 race report. Anyway, soon after last year’s event I met the guys of Pure Savage at the Stellenbosch Cycle Tour – one of my first races on a road bike. I like to think I impressed them. I rode my guts out, averaged 41kph for the race and a few days later I joined their ranks. There’s something truly special riding in a team. The guys at Pure Savage live cycling and the culture that accompanies it. Everybody seems to love what they’re about and the team’s popularity is largely attributed to its fanbase and awesome followers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Without the fans it wouldn’t be worth hammering every ride. As members of Cape Town’s better-known amateur cycling teams, we’ve become pseudo-cycling-celebrities in our own right and this means a lot to us. Our followers understand what we represent and the cheers of support shouted at us during races (even by other teams) spurs us on to ride even harder – which hurts. And while this hammer-like approach can be detrimental to the overall result, it’s the ethos upon which the team was founded.
This year’s Coronation Double Century (CDC) was one of the toughest days on the bike for me. I’m still new at this skinny wheel thing and have learned a lot from the team over the past 11 months. It was not so much the pace and intensity but rather the heat and wind that wreaked havoc with teams on the 200km route. We had a stellar start averaging 37kph to the first compulsory stop and still had most of our team in tact. The next 60km were pure torture and as we hooked a left exiting Robertson a stiff wind met us head-on. It proved tough work. Some of the stronger riders in the team made it look easy – like William. Will. I. Am as we affectionately named him is ridiculously strong. I don’t think he even broke a sweat during the entire ride and rightfully so – this man has completed the Giro del Capo. In fact, I’m pretty sure riding with us was tantamount to Grade 2 Maths for him. See, Will is not only a mathematician – he’s a cunning tactician too. Will and Jarred were the generals among front-line expendables and knew exactly what to do in the head/crosswinds. Not me. I had no clue, but we made it to the second stop bang-on target.
The heat really ramped up at the second stop at Bonnievale as did the Swellendam fan, and the notion of another 40km at threshold was looking less appealing with every passing second. The team looked drained. Like dehydrated mummies unable to talk we limped around delirious and confused in search of anything edible to stuff our faces with. Except Will. Did I mention how freaking strong this guy is? I was in pretty bad shape at this point. If there was a hole to crawl into I would have jumped in as quickly as possible but the amazing support from our crew lifted our morale for the final 40km stint. We left compulsory stop 2 with a complement of 10 but the pace and surging from the groups that merged with us began to take its toll on Carl and me. We lost sight of the group at around 185km and teamed up to finish as hard as we could together. The remaining six rode an unbelievable final 15km to the finish. Special mention goes to Nardus and Jon. Pity about the injuries but there’s always next year chaps – chin up. Not forgetting Jarred and Brenton – our pistons from PE as well as Marcus, Waldo, Will and Brendon our captain.
Klyde and Calvin popped before the final climb and crossed the line together with Carl and me in 5h22m, 3min40s behind our first six. We got 18th overall in a time of 5h18m. I’m not disappointed. I’m proud to be part of this team and witnessing it grow in popularity and strength every passing month brings me great joy. You know what? We’re more than just a bunch of guys that ride bicycles. We’re living proof of what can be achieved if you believe in yourself, so to those who think they can’t – yes you can. And who knows, next year you could be riding with us at CDC. We’d love your company.