parable of pain and pleasure

Like most
ardent cyclists in Cape Town the Coronation Double Century is a highlight on
the racing calendar for Pure Savage – the team was of course founded because of
this event so it’s an auspicious occasion for us. While we’ve lost a few
stalwarts over the years, including some of the original Savages, we’ve gained a
slew of new riders and galvanised a solid bond in our ranks as a result.

This year we
selected quite possibly one of our strongest teams to date and the mettle among
the ranks has been nothing short of astonishing. Everybody seems to love Pure
Savage – it appears the notion of a group of amateurs with day jobs dishing out
pain to their mates, is what appeals most to everyone. The cheers of support from
other teams we passed  during the race on
Saturday was amazing! It spurred us on to hammer harder and felt amazing. Thank
you for your support guys.

As a result
of the awesome vibe several sponsors have come on board for the 2016/17 season
such as USN, Ciovita, BikeHub and Volvo. Volvo 
kindly sponsored our team entry for the Double
Century and XC90 support vehicle, a car so stunning it made us one of the most
envied teams in the race. It’s a belter right? Kitted out here in our team livery,
Thor’s Hammer (that’s his name) epitomises everything about Pure Savage and the
hammer philosophy.

This year’s
Coronation Double Century was one of the toughest days on the bike for the team.
It wasn’t so much the pace and intensity but rather the heat and wind that
wreaked havoc over the 200 km route. At one point the mercury touched 40deg
Celsius! As a consequence the hurt locker was frequented many times as heart
rates soared, cramps pulsated through our legs and sweat stained our kits in a
salty crust. It was rough.

It’s hard to
explain what it feels like out there, especially when you’re going full gas,
but this quote by Marco Pantani fully encompasses what we experienced out there
on Saturday – ‘I love the mountains, but in the moment of exertion, I’m filled
with a deep hatred. So I try to shorten the suffering.’ Marco is of course
referring to the hurt locker – the bastion of pain that every cyclist experiences
some time or another. As you can see from the pictures we spent a lot of time
suffering out there and as much as it was painful it was also pleasurable.

See, we had
a specific goal this year: to beat last years’ time and possibly dip below 5h20m,
a pretty realistic goal considering the untimed 10 km neutral zone. We took a
measured approach at the start of the race and rotated pulling duties on the
front in a double pace line to keep our progress swift and economic. It worked.
Jarred and Brendon helped call the orders and soon we were barreling along at
42 kph and passing team after team without unloading too many unnecessary

Of course
there were the loafers – you know, those freeloaders who enjoy slipstreaming
without returning the favour on the front. Anyway those who tried didn’t last
very long and soon our blue and red train reached the open expanses of the R324
and were fast-approaching the first climb – Tradouw Pass.

At this
point Jarred took up marshaling duties to ensure we burnt as little matches as
possible up here but still kept a decent pace. It worked – despite Will
attempting to chase down every faster team coming through at pace. We made it
to the top with 10 riders and enjoyed the exhilarating 4 km descent, weaving
down at an average speed of around 72 kph and maxing at 86! Scary stuff!

Our measured
approach paid off and we made it to the first compulsory stop in 2h48m at an
average speed of 37 kph. We lost Nardus and Jon to injuries – a real loss as
both these champs are real characters in the team and this signaled the harsh reality
of being dropped from the bunch.

The next 60 km
after the first stop were pure torture and as we hooked a left exiting
Robertson a stiff wind met us head-on. It proved tough work. Some of the
stronger riders in the team made it look easy – like William. Will I. Am. as he
affectionately became known during the course of the race was ridiculously
strong. I don’t think he even broke a sweat and rightfully so, this man has
completed the Giro del Capo. In fact, I’m pretty sure riding with us was
tantamount to Grade 2 maths for him. See, Will is not only a mathematician –
he’s a cunning tactician, too.

among front-line expendables Jarred and Will knew exactly what to do in the
head/crosswinds yesterday. Some of our smaller and less experienced guys
struggled through this period but we all made it to the second stop bang-on

The heat
really ramped up at the stop at Bonnievale as did the Swellendam fan, and the
notion of another 40 km at threshold was looking less appealing with every
passing second. The team looked drained but our amazing support crew of Olivia
and Marlee along with Nardus and Jon helped boost the morale.

As usual
Aaron was winging about the breeze, Calvin couldn’t really speak and Klyde was
giggling like a Cheshire cat because he couldn’t believe he’d lasted this long.
Brendon quashed the murmurs about riding to the end “within myself” and “own
pace” as that is just not savage. Like dehydrated mummies unable to talk we
limped around delirious and confused in search of anything edible to stuff our
faces with.

Except Will.
Did I mention how freaking strong this guy is? Carl, Calvin, Marcus and Aaron
looked in pretty bad shape leaving the final stop but the last 40 km stint
brought a resurgence of confidence to push on. Surprisingly we left compulsory
stop 2 with 10 riders but the pace and surging from the groups that merged with
us began to take its toll on Carl and Aaron. We lost sight of them at around
185 km with Klyde popping at 187 km and Calvin atomically blowing at 192 km.

This meant Jarred,
Will, Brendon, Marcus, Waldo and Brenton were left to push towards the line as
quick as possible. Jarred and Will took turns riding up front and held the team
together despite the unrelenting wind and heat. The days hammering started to
catch up to the boys and our once sky train like pace-line started to look more
like a half dead snake. Will and Jarred just rotated together for the last 10 km
as the rest of the boys hung on for dear life.

Those three Ugly
Sisters truly are hideous pieces of work but we crested them one by one. This
left the final climb – we don’t remember it being this tough. In fact it felt
like one of our Everesting challenges but Waldo the Colossus came to the party
in a big way and helped push Marcus while Jarred helped Brenton. Will? Well,
did you have to ask? He was doing just fine as was Brendon.
The team had
done it. We achieved our goal of sub-5h20m and stopped the clock at 5h18m which
also secured us 18th position overall. Further back Aaron and Carl
started to claw back some time and picked up Klyde and Calvin on the final
climb where they finished 4 minutes later in a time of 5h22m. Everybody did
their turns on the front during the day until they popped and played a pivotal
role securing this time.

This is what
the team is about; this is what Pure Savage is about – suffering with mates and
enjoying a beer and exchanging war stories afterwards. Special mention goes to
Nardus and Jon. Pity what happened but there’s always next year chaps – chin
up. Not forgetting Jarred and Brenton, our pistons from PE as well as Marcus,
Waldo, Aaron, Carl, Will and Brendon our captain.

Seeing how the
team has grown in popularity and strength this year is so lekker. While we
really get great pleasure from hammering every ride in the face it’s the vibe
around the team that really makes mashing pedals so much more enjoyable. Our
awesome kit partner, Ciovita has agreed to another run of our current kit, if
you would like to get your hands on a set pop us a mail at
teampuresavage@gmail.com . Hammer!