I got my bike out of transition and headed for the road. My goal for the bike was to average about 26 km/hour. The course is 3 loops each of 60 km. The first section is a “gentle” climb to the highest point on the course. There is then a very nice down hill, and the rest of the course is relatively flat.
I was feeling great!!!! The first two loops of the bike went fantastically well. I saw quite a few spectators along the way that I knew and it was awesome to get their support. My heart rate was higher that I would have liked, but nothing to cause too much concern. My average speed for the 1st two laps was just under 30km/hour and I could not believe it. I had never been that quick before. I did help that there was NO wind, which in Port Elizabeth is unheard off. The only problem with having no wind was there was nothing to cool you down and it was HOT!!!!!! I was enjoying myself though, and was making sure I drank LOTS of water. At every Aid Station I would grab a bottle of water, drink some of it and pour the rest over myself. I also had 3 bottles of sports drink on my bike, but for some reason it tasted too sweet? I did force myself to drink it, because water alone was not going to work. The drink on the course was Infinite, but I had never tried it before and had heard that if you weren’t used to it, it could cause problems. I steered clear of it, just in case.
I stopped a couple of times along the way. The first time was on the 2nd loop. I pulled over and covered myself with sunscreen again. The second time was also on the 2nd loop. My feet were burning!!! It felt like I had a whole swarm of bees in my shoes and I could not figure out what was wrong. Eventually I realized that it must be the plasters I put on my toes to stop blisters during the run. With the heat and stuff my feet must have swollen and now the plasters were too tight. I pulled over, took my socks and shoes off and pulled of all the plasters – what a relief!!!!!! The 3rd time was at the Special Needs Station. I had put a meal replacement shake in my special needs bag so I stopped to drink it. I am not confident enough on my bike just to grab it and carry on cycling, so I stopped to drink it. During both of these laps I was feeling confident. My average speed was excellent and I was starting to do calculation in my head. What would my cycle time be if I could keep this up? What would my overall time be? I did say to myself to calm down, it was a long day, and I still had 60km left on the bike. ANYTHING could happen. I must just be thankful I am where I am so if I get a puncture or something at least I have time to play with. I was not really expecting what did happen to happen though.
As soon as I headed off up that hill for the 3rd time I hit the wall. I had been feeling great and then suddenly I just could not climb. It did not look like I was the only one though. I think the heat was beginning to get to most people. I put my bike in the easiest gear and tried to not to stop pedaling. All I wanted to do was get off and push but I knew it would not help, and I could not push my bike up that entire hill. I just kept saying to myself, just catch that guy in front of you. It did not help that almost every time I caught the guy in front of my he would stop, get off and throw up!!! I have never seen so many people throwing up in my life. I think on that hill alone I saw about 8 people. There were also people lying next to there bikes at the side of the road in every shady bit?
My internal dialog went something like this; “Just catch that guy, yay, crap, what’s he doing stopping, you just keep peddling! What the hell are you doing? You have nothing to prove, you have done this before. Don’t kill yourself, just get somebody to call Andrew to come and get you. Don’t be a woes, you can do it. Just get to the top of the hill. If you still feel this bad at the top then stop. Just get to the top then stop.” At the top of the hill there is a large FNB sign, and I have never been so happy to see one of those blowup arch things in my life. I got to the top of the hill and pulled of the road. I put my bike on the ground and sat down next to it. I got out some food; I had packed a honey and peanut butter sandwich which I ate. I also had a GU, some of my energy drink (which I think had gone off in the heat as it was disgusting), lots of water and 2 salt tablets. I also poured two bottles of water over myself and then covered myself in sunscreen again. I spoke to one of the guys at the aid station and they said they measured the temperature there and it was 38ºC. BLOODY HELL, no wonder we were all battling. My average speed had dropped from just under 30km/hour to just over 26km/hour after that hill. At least I was still on target and the rest of the course was pretty flat. I got back on my bike and headed off….. I was VERY glad that I had stopped though. I think it did me the world of good. I felt fantastic for the rest of the cycle, and managed to get my average speed back up to just over 27km/hour by the end of the cycle leg. It did cross my mind at one stage though that if I slowed my cycle down I would not be running in the heat of the day? It was only a brief thought and I did the cycle to the best of my ability.
So that was 2 legs down and just one leg to go. Once again the internal calculations were starting. It looked like I would make my goal of 14 hours 30 if nothing untoward happened on the run. I had learnt from the bike that you just never can tell though.
So my time for the bike – 6:47:17