After the last edition of the Coronation Double Century the men’s team saw a fair amount of movement in the team as Aaron “The Bottle” Borril moved over to the UK, we believe so he would have more justification for riding the indoor trainer due to the weather. Neill ‘Hungary’ Ungerer also left to go watch a Crusaders game in New Zealand and never returned. Garth ‘Engine’ Ennion was looking in fine form by winning the Transbaviaans but then he got bitten by the Cobra and had to recover from some broken bones in his back.
This means that Savage would have some new recruits for 2019. As local is lekker we roped in Dan “Quadzilla” Sass, Ben “The Beast” Nortier and Mark “Player 23” Shonrock from our morning ride group. There was a late inclusion into the team after another injury which saw Deano “The Dean of Pure Savage“ Hopf after his months of secret training overseas. On many of the training rides some of the veterans tried to warn the new recruits that the start at the Double Century is fast and brutal out of Swellendam, which was met with a shrug and an eye roll from the uninitiated.
The threads from Ciovita this year were particularly banging and fit like a glove thanks to their new sizing system for 2019. Along with the matching kit the amazing gents from Cadence nutrition came on board to make sure the teams were fully stocked with nutrition and had matching bidons! We really appreciate the support!
We were seeded 10th and therefore the Double Century would be the latest start to any ride the whole year! Once we were all kitted, had the obligatory photo for the gram we went down to the start where we started spotting some regulars, Freewheel Cycology, Hartlief Deli and the Cyclopaths. Sitting in the start chute, the joking subsided replaced with fleeting looks between each other and our Garmin’s. The clock ticked down and we were off, Brenda could still see the 30 second team and steamed off the line. As the team turned onto the N2 they had passed the team ahead and hammered down the N2.
This is where the details start getting sketchy as a slight tailwind and the hum of carbon wheels initiated the frenzy. Player 23 started getting paniced as he was sitting in a common position for him near the back with his heart rate racing at 175bpm. Cannonball was regretting his life decision of sitting behind “The Dean” in the paceline having to hang on to Dean having flash backs of his podium Double Century. This put an end to Cannonball’s day and once we hit Tradouw he was off the back.
As the rest of the squad tapped away up Tradouw we caught the Daiken boys and sent our two lads with broken collarbones ahead so they could descend Tradouw with their training wheels on. When Deano found out what was happening there was plenty of chuckles! Once the rest of the team had caught up with the Quadzilla and The Beast the Hartlief boys came thundering past, they were the only team to pass us on the road the whole day! We settled into a rhythm winding up to the Barrydale T-junction and had managed to listen to the advice of John Wakefield and arrived here with 11 riders. (Unless you ask Waldo, then we were 10 as he doesn’t count himself)
This numbers were crucial as we set off into the headwind towards Op Tradouw barrelling down on the teams up the road. Brendon called for a double pace line into the head wind to keep the pace high into the wind, we are sure if Willie, Kevin or Mark could breathe they would have had a few four letter words for Brendon. The hammer was down and with our tail in tow we started picking up bunches on the road until we reached Op Tradouw.
The group was large and the pace was starting to rip holes in the Savages legs as the bunch started thundering up the climb stringing the group out, straight away Nardus and Kevin were distanced, down to 8. The Op de Tradouw climb is a cruel beast, one cannot spot the top from the bottom and when against the ropes the never ending summit hurts. Near the top there were glances around near the back of the group where Willie, Brendon and Mark were lingering, the unrelenting pace by Waldo was being taking no prisoners.
Once over the top the “Will and Dean show” Act 1 could begin unfortunately Mark was not going to get to see the performance as the pace of the first 60km had forced him to finish both his bottles and implode just before the top of Op de Tradouw. Nardus on the other hand had self administered a heroic dose of pain to his legs to claw himself back to the team just as the first Act was about to begin, back to 8.
The run to Montagu is an undulating road with a lingering headwind, perfect for our units on the front, the team returned to a single pace line as the group had swollen with more groups passed and sitting on. While the monsters at the front like Will, Ben, Willie and Waldo took turns pounding the pedals into the wind, Brendon made sure that when the elastic snapped the Savages were on the right side of the elastic and that the team did not arrive in Montagu with 5 riders. (Yes, of course Savage has done this before)
Stopping the clock in Montagu at 2:43 Savage was 2 minutes ahead of schedule. We had arrived in Montagu with 9, probably a Savage first. Only minutes later did the Bus pull into the station ready for a splash and dash before the next stint. Klyde had picked up Mark after his Picnic in the feed zone on Op de Tradouw, also probably a Savage first. We met the Pure Savage Average social mixed team in Montagu to find out they had finished with 6, appropriate Savage.
Unfortunately this year there would be no splash and dash for cannonball as the train left the first stop 10 strong and ready to hammer into the block headwind. In waiting for our lost souls we exited the stop behind all the teams we had entered the feedzone with this meant we had some gaps to close. This made Ben Happy.
The pause in the sufferfest meant hammering into the wind soon started to take its toll on the Savage’s and once we had caught the Cyclopaths and Hollard we were down to 7 with Brendon keeping a close eye on the Dr having lost the bus, Willie and Sean. The “Will and Dean Show” had started Act 2 and were taking turns to see who could string out the 14 teams sitting behind them the most and snap the most elastics.
The tailwind after the circle in Robertson did not offer any form of respite to the screaming legs in the Savage paceline, the speed and humming of carbon wheels just increased in intensity. The dead wheels and snapping elastic bands started to get served up after the red bridge and Brendon was making sure Nardus and Dr D did not pull a parachute out the back together leaving only 5 Savages up front.
Ancedote about a chat at 152km – Dan goes pop
Brendon was starting to turn delusional giving kudos to Willie and Kevin for their massive turns before the second stop, 5km after both these riders had departed. It turned out he thanked Ben and Waldo who were just happy that Brendon was still breathing. The paceline was in full stride with other teams coming to the front taking a turn to pull the group along towards the second stop. The group came hurtling across the line into the refuge of the Bonnivale stop. We had come in 1:01, 2 min ahead of schedule. It was coming together!
The atmosphere in the support zone is electric, as you pedal up the ‘tunnel’ of support teams the shouts of “Savage” and “Hammer time Savage” hit you like a gladiator in the Colosseum. This brought a wry smile to the salt caked faces of Ben and Waldo, Deano popped off to chat to the 147th person that greeted him, Will kept a heyna’s eye on Brendon and Nardus making sure the two battered gladiators got to the support crew.
The look on the support crew is always priceless, that look of, “6, again, really?”. The ladies were amazing, whipping cool towels around, bottles onto bikes and making sure Nardus had a constant supply of bananas. The battle worn troops rolled in, well besides Kevin, he walked in as he had punctured at the top of the neutral zone climb. He did not appreciate Dean announcing his arrival as the “Park running Chris Froome”
As we sat around on the baking tar and hard cooler boxes, we remembered thinking last year at this same point, that we should really organize ourselves some shade. The glances started to get dished out, who still had legs for the final 40km? It was a tailwind, it was going to be fast. Panic struck and magnesium tablets and Cadence gels started getting popped.
We were back into the trenches for the final 30km sprint home, Kevin pulled a staggering 5 minute turn on the front of the train pulling us straight up to the teams that had started minutes ahead of us. He was spent, there was no hanging on, he rode his legs off. This story repeated itself with Willie, then Sean and finally Dr Dan as Savage laboured up the never ending drag to the R602 T-junction. We were down to the final 6, Brendon had not been the number 6 for 4 editions, but he knew exactly what hell awaited him. He had a front row seat for the “Dean and Will show guest starring Ben and Waldo” Act 3. Every now and then there was a quick look under the arm by these turbo diesels to make sure Brendon and Nardus will still strapped in.
The first sister was dispatched without a bruise being left on Brendon’s back by Waldo’s hand, over the top Nardus came back to say a prayer for Brendon’s legs and banish the demon’s within. Pity the demons did not speak Afrikaans.
We were racing Daiken with their group climbing as hard as nails which led Dean and Will to light it up over the top of the climbs while everyone else held on and drilled the pedals as hard as they could to close the gap. The last sister, the curviest one, bit hard and the team dug in and closed any gaps over the top with Waldo and Dean trying to fix the pins on Brendon’s back pocket, yes that’s what they were doing. The final run in was incredible, with shouts of hammer and everyone now rolling through for a chance of a little more suffering!
The final punch to the line was made that much easier when the sub 5 was in the bag, a three year goal for the lads complete. The squad crossed the line in 4:53, cutting 7 minutes off their personal best and coming in 10th overall, kudos to Racetec for the perfect seeding. Sean and Dr Dan danced on the pedals up the final kick to cross the line just under 5 hours after all their suffering. Willie came in next with Kevin followed by Klyde and Mark.
We had a quick stalk on Racetec and Strava and analysed just how we had done throughout the day, we had come in 9th at the first section, 13th on the second and 16th in the final section. Which is pretty much expected when your plan is to hammer till you have 6 remaining. There are some interesting movements on the graph, especially to see how the podium was decided. The new recruits still cannot believe how fast the start was and have therefore signed up for Killarney for the next year to try and get used to the taste of blood in the mouth for the first hour.
The racing this year was some of the best, the teams around us raced hard and there were no competitors just sitting on for a tow. This is a really special event made even more so by the shouts of “Savage” as our train barrels passed deep in the pain cave. (You thought Savage was not going to make a pain cave reference in a race report?) The organisation again was incredible, from the rolling support, to the feed zones, the rider chill area, hospitality from the Rotary club of Swellendam, the effort to promote the ladies race and the world class MC. Cyclists Christmas is now over, every ride now is just a training ride for the Double Century 2020.