Arriving at the water point I literally drop my bike in the shade, stumble to get my water bottled refilled and grab some more jelly beans. It’s frikkin hot and all my enthusiasm for a 100km cycle has gone out the window… I just want to finish this bloody thing now. I rest for about 5min but because I know that there is a cut off time at the finish line, I don’t want to waste too much time here. 21 km to go. I’m feeling….
Back on the bike and now I’m heading home, I see quite a few riders giving up and the pick up bus is getting fuller every time I see it. By now I am pep talking myself, I’m just focusing on 1km at a time. Before today the furthest I’ve cycled was 85km, my goal now is just to break that. 84 comes and goes, 85 and then after an eternity of mindless legs turning over and over I reach 86km. I celebrate by gulping down a energy gel, the gel is hot and super sweet and tastes crap, so is the water in my water bottle… I’m tired. Only 16km to go.
I’m struggling, my legs are weak and the heat is unbearable at this stage (some one told me after wards it was way past 36 Degrees) but I carry on. In the distance I see a red flag but can’t quite figure out what that is, I know there are no more water points. Eventually when I get close enough, it’s a marker stating only 10 km to go to the finish line. As I read it and my mind comprehends it’s meaning my left legs starts to cramp, I’ve never ever experienced a pain like this. I want to cry and scream – but don’t have the energy to do so – I remember that they said if you cramp you must switch to a higher gear and stand. Well I did just that and it actually works, it takes everything I have but at least now there is 8km to go. I remember saying to myself ‘I haven’t come this far to quit’
In my mind I am working out the last bit of the route and mentally psych myself up for the final assault. I’m counting the red KM markers as I go, 7 left, 6 left, 5 left.. It feels agonising slow, I’m hurting and I’ve never been as drained in my life. Somewhere in my agony I must’ve missed the 4km to go marker cause the next one I see is 3km – my spirits lift ever so slightly.
Then I get to the 2km to go marker and there is a bit of a change to the route as I worked it out, about two blocks of frikkin uphill – this now feels like climbing Kilimanjaro and I’m actually swearing at the organisers for doing this me but I carry on at a snails pace. Eventually there is a slight downhill and a right turn at the bottom for the last 1km to the finish line.
As I reach the 1km flag I realised my pain and suffering is not over, it’s uphill and it lies like Everest before me. If I tell you I have nothing left it is an understatement – I’m finished, my heart is racing, I see spots and am light headed, my legs are jelly, my arms and shoulders hurt… I’m beyond tired.
But.. it’s only 1km to go, I keep on pushing, slowly I make my way up to the 500m to go marker and all of a sudden… I start puking my lungs out, it’s just water… but none the less I’m just letting it go and can’t help it, my throat is burning but it just keeps on coming… wave after wave… and to be honest I’m too tired to care and to stubborn to stop… (couldn’t have been nice for anyone watching).
200m to go, I stopped puking at last and with everything I have, I push for the finish line, 100m to go. I cross the timer mat and hear the beep that confirms I’ve made it – 102km done!
I ride into the showgrounds and dismount, my legs cave in. I find a spot against a tree and just close my eyes, I don’t have the energy to get to my car. One of the riders who finished behind me tries to make small talk, I can’t even talk back. After a couple of minutes I get up, stumble to the loo’s to hold my head under the tap but this doesn’t help. I shuffle outside and sit against the wall, I’m too tired to move. Luckily one of the passers by saw me and helps me to the medics, they quickly put me on a glucose drip. After about 5min or so I have the energy to phone my fiancée to ask her to come fetch me, of course her first reaction is to panic (so sweet) but eventually we get my bike loaded and head home.
I am glad I’ve done it, but for now I’ll stick to my sup and surfboard – till next years Cape Town Cycle Tour comes around again…