10 Ways To Save Your Old Mutual Wealth Double Century
So, we’re almost there! The Old Mutual Wealth Double Century is a few disrupted sleeps away. This week can make your DC a pleasure or a pain, depending on how silly you are about getting in some last minute training (please don’t, there is zero benefit you can miraculously find now) and how gentle you are on your body and mind in the final few days before you join 3 000 brothers and sisters on the roads around Swellendam.
There’s still quite a lot you can do on race day, though, that will make the 200km more manageable and, hopefully, fun.
1. Get up early. Give yourself time to eat a good breakfast, have some coffee (no, there’s no such thing as too much), use the bathroom (likely multiple times), and get to the start in time to line up.
2. Check the weather. Make sure there are no surprises on the horizon. (We always carry a light shell layer just in case.)
3. Keep moving. Limit your refuelling stops to five or 10 minutes max, even if there’s a 30 or 40-minute clocks-off allowance. And avoid sitting or lying down in the aid stations unless you’re in a really bad way, because honestly, it just makes it worse as your legs stiffen up even quicker than stopping for too long. Better to roll out slowly and recover on the bike than to spend a half hour hanging around.
4. Plan your aid station stops. Do your future, completely brain-fried self a major favour by planning your refuelling and aid station stops in advance. Organise your drop bags in an orderly fashion with easy access to your electrolytes, preferred food, spare parts, chain lube, and whatever else you may need. Make sure the support crew has a game plan so everyone knows what you’ll need and how to take care of you and your bike to keep you rolling.
5. Share the work. But not too hard or fast – taking turns at the front, pulling in the wind is fine, but the wise heads in the Old Mutual Double Century field know to tap it off a kilometre an hour or so, even if they are comfortable, in the first half so they have some legs left for the finale. Today is not a day to be a hero – if you feel uncomfortable on the front, if the pace is too fast for you, speak up, roll back and shelter.
6. Stick to your pace! When the gun goes off a lot of people go off fast—too fast. Especially on that lovely road to Suurbraak on the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century. Don’t be one of them. Yes, it feels like you’re being left behind, but you’ll see them later when they crack during the second half of the race. This is where training with a heart rate monitor really helps. You can keep an eye on your heart rate during the event and keep it where you know it’s sustainable. communication with your team mates is critical. Nobody will look down on you for a conservative start (if they do, choose your team mates better!), especially when you are all fresher on the final climbs.
7. Conserve your matches. It’s inevitable that you’re going to have to go into the red a little here and there to crest a steep kicker or get through a rough patch. Keep those moments when you’re burning matches to an absolute minimum.
8. Expect the unexpected. A race like the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century is an extremely long day out over sometimes brutal terrain. Mechanicals are common. You may run into unpredicted weather. Keep your chin up and deal with whatever problems arise without flipping out about them.
9. Stay cool! The DNF rate soars when the temperatures rise. It’s hard enough for your body to maintain a reasonable core temperature over an effort of 12 or more hours when it’s 25 degrees and sunny. Raise the temps 10 degrees, and it can be nearly impossible without assistance, which makes heat illness a real risk. Have a plan to keep your fluids ice-cold (thermal bottles help). Pour cold water over your head at refuel stations (or when a nice roadside farm stand offers you some). And riders have been known to pack nylon socks in their drop bag, which they fill with ice and tuck into the back collar of their jerseys to cool their core.
10. Remember the laws of endurance. Keep in mind, no matter how bad you feel or how good you feel, it won’t last. The tunnel is dark when you’re in it, but there’s light at the other end. Make forward progress, no matter how slow, and take care of yourself with food, fluids, and positive thinking. It’ll get you to the finish line.
If you can’t hold a decent conversation anywhere on the route before Ashton, you are starting too fast. Start chatty, finish fine!