My final weeks in shorts!!

Tuesday 30th March 2010

by catherine williamson

Am currently on my way home having being promised that spring is on the way and England is out of the horrendous winter I’ve managed to miss. The last two weeks have been 2 of the best probably which, considering I’ve had a great time since I arrived, has being the icing on the cake (which is all too often missing on Nicolene’s fab cup cakes!)
The weekend 13th and 14th of March saw the two most important events on the calendar, my birthday and the Cape Argus Pick and Pay race! We had travelled down on the Wednesday, had had a lovely ride round the course, had had a terrifying ride on the highway, and with my parents over on holiday I’d even managed a boat trip round the harbour. My birthday itself was very non eventful, nothing worse than having a big race post birthday. My romantic husband had sent a book (which actually was one I’d been after for ages) and my folks left a huge chocolate cake in my room just to torment me! The girls were great, knocking on my door at 6.30 and making me extra late for our group ride by giving me loads of goodies and a lovely card signed by them all which I’ll treasure!!! The ride was all part of the Argus experience with thousands out on the beach front even that time of morning. The rest of the day was spent in the hotel, resting and watching TV which isn’t hard when the hotel is so nice.
On race day the wind had really picked up and getting to the start in the dark was a mission in itself. Though not a patch on the hurricanes of last year it all added to the nerves as we waited in the pens and once going you had to be constantly aware of where the next gusts were coming from. The wind was a headwind on the way out which made sitting in the bunch fairly easy. I was ready for the attacks up Boyes Drive and stayed near the front though with the wind back in our faces it soon bunched up. Eventually as we turned to the right up the next climb the wind pushed from behind and suddenly the bunch was lined out. Over the top the speed was pretty high and my bike with carbon wheels along with the uneven road was so frisky at one point I’m sure the whole bike and me were side on! I stayed near the front out of trouble and followed the attacks up and over the pass. With a number of guys chasing 3 men who had got away I didn’t see the use in attacking alone, theres no way I’d stay away if I had got a gap especially as we turned back into the wind. The finish wasn’t as crazy as I’d imagined as most of the men let the woman sprint it out since 3 men stayed up the road. I got slightly boxed in and missed grabbing the wheel of guys who looked like they were leading some of the woman out. I realised I was in 4th and made a last minute desperate attempt to come through. I knew I was either 3rd or 4th but as I’m always 4th got the knives out ready for my wrists! I was pretty chuffed then to hear I was 3rd and proceeded to treat myself for the rest of the day on kooksisters (terrible spelling I’m sure, but the best thing to come out of SA!!), and of course chocolate cake while laying on the grass watching some of the thousands finish. Being Mother’s Day the podium was a nice present to my mam, which was a good job as I’d left her pressie in Bloem!

My last week in Bloem was a nice one and it was pretty emotional leaving everyone. Me and Arien were invited to a braai of lobster tails by one of the guys we ride with and my new mates in the bike shop were extra nice to me even though the cake I’d promised to make ended in disaster! (I blamed the altitude). Leaving Betsy and Arien were partially hard, like leaving my second home, I’ll really miss those warm evenings having dinner outside and putting the world to right, meeting each other half asleep at 4.30 to ride in the dark, and I’m not sure how I’ll survive without my weekly dose of Grey’s Anatomy!!

The weekend just gone we raced in Peter’s Bay, North of Durban. I’d travelled from Bloem and spent a night on the sea front in Durban in ‘Faulty Towers’ Hotel. Durban was a whole new experience and culture I found fascinating. I did get a bit lost riding and found myself saying a few prayers as I rode though the taxi ranks but, as everywhere I’ve being, I found the people so friendly. Sitting on the beach recovering from a near drown experience where I lost my goggles, bobble and dignity trying to ‘surf’ the mammoth waves, I started chatting to a guy in his 40s who was looking at the sea for the first time in his life! He asked me if you could drink the water and having had half the ocean up my nose and mouth I advised against it!
The race itself was a fast 80km with the men. No one was letting anything get away and even though one of us was either creating attacks or jumping on moves it came down to a technical sprint finish. I narrowly avoided a crash and chased onto 3rd wheel round the last bend just to see another girl flying round the outside and winning the whole thing. I was 2nd, 4th overall. While the girls had a long drive back to J berg I had the treat of joining my parents back in Durban for a few days of holiday: with some painful jogs on the beach replacing the riding, another battering in the sea, and plenty of kooksisters and meaty braais!!


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