Believe it or not, there is comedy to waking up at 3:30am.
Not only is it ridiculous to try to sleep at 8pm the night before (read: stare at the ceiling), but once your alarm goes off you almost have to convince your body that “Yes, it’s time to open your eyes and get dressed to race.” The negotiation continues as you attempt to have breakfast, and I say “attempt” because it’s more like an act of force feeding rather than a morning ritual of replenishment.
Once off to the race you again realize how early it is. The sun hasn’t come up, the streets are empty, save for a few varsity students still enjoying last night, and the only things open are 24hr petrol stations. I once even saw a guy with a black eye in party clothes holding one shoe, walking practically sideways…oh the life of a student. Thankfully, as you get closer to the race venue, some City Golf flies past you with a bike some how jammed in the back seat and you realize there are other crazy people who wake up just as early as you do to avoid the summer heat and traffic in order to suffer for 100kms.
The race ahead was pretty much flat except for Botmanskloof about 40kms in. Attacks began right off the start and the bunch was quick to react to each one, but it was more about the collective speed of the bunch that made every attack fail.
At the base of the climb I moved forward and set an aggressive tempo. I managed to split the bunch leaving only the key players in my wake but I had to pay for burning my matches as I watched them kick to the top without me. Thankfully, the descent was long enough for the bunch to reform and pick up speed and the break was paced back.
With the climb behind us, it was clear the race would be decided in a bunch sprint. A few individual attacks were launched but no one had the legs to survive in the headwind solo. The final stretch was an uphill drag so I pressed my luck and attacked. I wasn’t able to shake the bunch and in the last few moments the sprinters moved forward to battle for the line.
Safely back at the venue at 8:30am I was finally ready for breakfast! I was also already thinking of Sunday’s race which is more my terrain. I calculated I would have to set my alarm for 4am since the race was over 45min away. Yes….an extra half an hour of sleep!