Coronation Double Century: All the Tips and Tricks
The 27th running – cycling – of the Coronation Double Century is upon us, and on Saturday 23 December, 281 teams (3 300 riders) of varyingly nervous cyclists will line up in Swellendam for the world’s longest team time trial.
Swellendam has hosted the event for over a decade, with the small Overberg town overrun by cyclists for the weekend, as teams and supporters swell the accommodation coffers by snapping up every available bed, and more, up to a year in advance.
So what is the Coronation Double Century? In a nutshell: a 202km team time trial, for professional and amateur riders, that requires a minimum of six riders to finish from up to 12 starters, to qualify as official finishers. The route runs anti-clockwise from Swellendam, through Suurbraak and over Tradouw Pass, Op de Tradouw, Montagu, Ashton, Robertson and back to Swellendam.
TAKE A TRIP BACK TO 2018: Double Century Wrap: Race Report and Best Pictures
By now, your training is hopefully done – although we are guaranteed to see some long panic rides on Strava this week. Realistically all that is really left to do is eat properly – before and during – drink like a fish, but only water, and forget nothing…
Eat right and shorten your Coronation Double Century
Gone are the days of the bowls of pasta, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the build-up to a big event like the Double Century. Science has caught up, and we are all better riders for it. Riders at the DC tend to be relatively experienced, but we can all learn a little from the experts. Here is a great 24-hour eating plan to get you to the start line raring to go, with a breakdown of what to eat at each meal the 24 hours before your start.
READ MORE: Your 24-Hour Pre-race Meal Plan
Water, water, everywhere
It looks like we will have mild weather for the 2019 Coronation Double Century.. for the region. Expect temperatures in the low 30s, and drink accordingly. Dehydration is not just bad for you, it makes you slower! Below is a quick guide to pre-hydrating properly, but on the day, it is fairly simple, actually. Carry two big bottles, one with water and one with your favourite energy/electrolyte drink. 500ml an hour is a good target, upped to 700ml if it is especially hot, alternating between the two. On the Coronation Double Century, there are refilling options at 32km and 65km, full team stops at 145km and 160km and a final watering hole after 176km at Drew, just when you feel like giving it all up. Stick to water and your preferred jungle juice at these stops; leave the Coca Cola Red Recovery Rocket for the final stop; with “only” 26km to the finish, the sugar rush should just about see you through.
READ MORE: The Secret to Effective Pre Race Hydration
Food. Glorious food.
The first rule of endurance riding is to stick to what you know and get in as much of it as you dare. unless you are racing, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping down real food, alongside the carb-rich energy products you will be tempted to survive on. These – generally – are designed for short, fast events, to be and an easily-digestible way to get in the 60-90g of carbs you need to keep fuelled. For the five-hour finishers, gels and bars are the bomb. But for us mortals, the prospect of seven or eight hours of cramming all that hyper-processed gloop into our systems is often too sickly-sweet, so we end up just not eating. Which, obviously, is a bad thing… so make sure you pack ham-and-cheese sandwiches, banana bread, a bit of biltong, rice cakes, date balls and other ‘real’ food into the catering for your team at the two major stopovers, and you will find the variety palatable enough to actually want to keep eating, no matter how broken you are.
The stress of a 200+km event, combined with getting up way before the birds, fuddle the brain of even the most paraat cyclist. Don’t be the guy who makes the Camp Mom turn around, ten minutes into the shuttle to the start, because you still have your slippers on. True story, names and places have been changed to protect the guilty. Here is a shortlist, to avoid a long drive:
- Your timing chip – you can buy one at registration, but that is not ideal.
- Putting your bike into the car? You won’t be the first to leave the thru-axle skewer on the bumper…
- Ditto, your front wheel. Double-check, before you leave home.
- Water bottles – remarkably easy to leave in the freezer at your B&B.
- Your cycling shoes, if you are driving to the start.
- Ditto, your helmet.
- All the identification bits you need for the day – stickers, bike boards, numbers.
- SUNSCREEN. TIA, people; even if you start in the dark, the Robertson Valley looks like it will be sun-burn central later on.
- A notebook, for Saturday evening’s team fines meeting. A mental notebook will do.
- Food for your pockets, to get you to the first refuelling stop at 65km. Again, remarkably easy to forget.
- Your sense of humour. It is an early rise, followed by a long day. Enjoy it!
- A spare sense of humour, for each of the Three Witches, and for David’s Folly, that final beast up to the finish line.
About the author
Journalist and author Tim Brink has completed 10 Coronation Double Century events.