The annual Pedal Power Association One Tonner event rolled round a little earlier than previous editions arriving in the first week of October along with a new route. The new route now incorporates the iconic Bainskloof pass which was part of the original Double Century and very few events conquer the pass.
On the morning over a thousand cyclists were welcomed by some of the best cycling weather, with slight cloud cover and little to no wind. This led to a little extra banter in the start chutes between all the Double Century teams.
Both the men’s and mixed Savage teams started in the D-E group to avoid having to descend the pass with other riders in the mix. Once we set off up the pass the group quickly whittled down to around 15 riders. As the team snaked up the pass with the mist below keeping the temperatures in the group low while looking on over the sleepy valley below.
On the way down Sean “the Rock” Newbery dispeared down the pass while Ben “Just back from a broken Collarbone” Nortier was having flashbacks of the hard tarmac on Chapmans peak. It was great having the PPA marshals warning of the more dangerous corners on the descent. Although the surface is graded a black diamond for road surfaces, the road closure made the pass a pleasure to descend! Once the twists and turns were dealt with the train left the station with Ben keen to keep the hammer down so as to not hear the comments about his descending the pass.
The pace line started ticking over nicely as we crossed the Bree river and headed to Wolsely. We were never far from the watchful eyes of the bike marshals keeping the cars at bay and letting them through when it was safe to go through. Soon after exiting Wolsely Will spotted the carrot of a group up the road. This caused the level of froth in the pace line to increase and by the time we went through the Nuwekloof Pass we pulled past the C bunch and set off after the remnants of the B bunch.
The catching of B was made just before the turn off to Hermon as the race dived right into the stop and go. We were waved through only to find oncoming cars in the stop go area, luckily the cars slowed down when they saw Kevin “The Bus” Dolley was sitting in the pace line and the cars didn’t want to take any risks.
Bothmanskloof was dispatched without too much drama until the top when our Sub-vet and Vet status surfaced as our riders started pulling over at the top of the pass for nature breaks. This poor bladder planning led to a split in the team, Sean slowing the pace of the group down and a ton of fines being issued to Waldo and Willie. Brendon decided this lost time would best be made up by skipping the planned water stop at Malmesbury, Nardus did not let Brendon forget for the rest of the ride that we had missed the planned stop.
One of the toughest sections on the current and previous routes is the 10km coming out of Malmesbury normally into teeth of the South Easter. Fortunately this year the wind had slept in and the slog back to Wellington earned everyone PB’s on that segment. This allowed those Savages that had burnt a few too many matches earlier to start appearing again in the pace line. The Savage pace line also had a few other rides appear in it, this was until they found themselves in 3rd wheel at which time they would go into panic mode and pull the ripcord to get out of there as the front was looming. This often ended in Nardus “Waar is my Piesang” Matthysen closing the gap in an Eeyore esque effort.
After the interesting tactical decision to not stop in Malmusbury the plan was to stop at the next water point, the only problem was the one Brendon “Steady now” Stevens spotted from afar happened to be on the medium route, which led to a slight detour being taken for which a fine was duly handed out by Kevin.
As we approached the actual water point at Pederberg everyone pulled over for water except for Will I AM who decided to control the group till the rest got back on, we never did. After a heroic dose of Savagness in the final 10km from the Savage train we caught back up to the group on the finish line. Will having ‘controlled’ the break saw at 1,5km to go the rest of us were not catching fast enough so set off to make sure a Savage took line honours in a time of 4:28, coming in the middle of the A bunch on Ractec.
15 minutes later the Savage mixed team rolled over the line having pulled a train of riders behind them into Wellington. Great to see the Savage puncture protocol was followed to the T by the mixed team.
The new route we feel is a great addition to the road calendar, the inclusion of a long climbing pass without cars is a proper treat for cyclists. The handing out of stickers on the morning in the start chutes for those that had the SMS was great, kudos. The field and tents at the end were a lekker place to hear how deep everyone got in the pain cave during the ride. It was great that there was the ability to pay via snapscan, card machine or cash for the Bings Bru afterwards. This event is a must for all cyclists in Cape Town.