Is the night before, the calm before the storm?
01 January 1970
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Gerald de Kock: Hello and welcome to another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast where all matters mountain biking are our topic of conversation and there’s so much to discuss. At this time of the year, it’s summertime and there’s a great vibe around mountain biking. Particularly with the great trails we have to ride in this country. We really do have the great privilege of riding all these trails and so many different events.
What I’ve decided to do this event, it’s a stage race once again we’re at. I thought we’d get to know what riders do the night before, the day before a stage race. What are the nerves like, what are the plans, what do they eat? How do they go about preparing for the first day of a stage race?
It’s all very tense for some, for others very relaxed and I suppose that’s what it’s all about. What I’m going to do is I’m going to walk up to a few riders, they don’t even know I’m going to have a chat to them. Ask them how they’ve been preparing. How have you been preparing for the race?
Answer: I heard Wednesday I must ride, so I didn’t prepare that much.
GDK: Clearly you do ride because that’s two days ago, actually not, it’s yesterday.
A: Yes, I was training for the Sky Run, I was running a lot. So I didn’t prepare that well, but I’m looking forward to it.
GDK: Are you nervous then before a ride like this?
A: No, we’re going to enjoy it.
GDK: Who’s your partner?
A: This man.
GDK: How did it happen, that you asked him yesterday?
A: Same story, yesterday he phoned me and we said: Let’s do it, it’s a nice ride.
A: They won it last year!
GDK: They won it last year, so they know what they’re doing here and you’re riding?
A: I am riding.
Nerves of steal
GDK: Tell me the day before a ride here, how do you feel, are you nervous, what’s the vibe going on?
A: No pressure, I’ll ace it, I’m pretty good on a mountain bike! I’m pretty fantastic actually.
GDK: You’re quite modest as well about it.
A: That’s my second best quality, first is mountain bike riding and second is my humility.
GDK: Would you have a glass of wine or a beer before?
GDK: You take it too seriously, far too seriously. Do you take it seriously?
A: I’m going to have a few beers tonight.
GDK: What time do you wake up? What batch are you going in?
A: I think G.
GDK: What time would you get here in the morning for the start?
A: What time are we going, I don’t know.
GDK: What are you going to have for supper tonight?
A: We’re going to have a big steak and a few beers.
GDK: Is it important to have steak and beer before a ride like this?
A: I think so.
GDK: How many beers?
GDK: Breakfast tomorrow, do you have a big breakfast?
A: Yes, a big breakfast, bacon and eggs.
GDK: Looks like you’re going to have to help your partner a bit tomorrow because he doesn’t know what’s going on here, thanks guys, good luck. Some know exactly what’s going on in a race and others don’t. So it’s all part of how one gets around the FNB Wines2Whales, which is where we are now. There are some riders sitting down here, you guys all riding?
A: They are.
A few to calm the nerves
GDK: I’d better move across there. They’re certainly doing their pre-ride carbo loading. How much training have you done for this? It’s a three-day stage race, how much training have you done?
A: About half of that, about 1.5 days in total.
GDK: That’s not bad if you do it spread over a few months.
A: Yes, most probably over six months’ worth of hard work and dedication to get to about six hours.
GDK: You’re clearly quite relaxed about all this or are you trying to numb those nerves?
A: I think a day of drinking has got us to the point of relaxation.
GDK: Is that good preparation?
A: I’m not riding, it’s these two, but no, it’s not good preparation at all.
GDK: You’re not nervous, you’re quite relaxed. What’s the plan for the rest of the day, this is the day before the ride?
A: I don’t actually know, what are we doing after this? Trying to find our bikes. I see they have shooters –
GDK: Oh dear, shooters, wine, beer and bikes.
A: Wine tasting sounds good.
GDK: There is a problem when the registration is at a winery and you start by drinking beer, I suppose that’s all part of the strategy?
A: It is, to get more carbs in, because the wine doesn’t have enough and it’s a small glass.
GDK: It’s quite important to maybe eat before?
A: I’ll think about that just now.
GDK: What do you eat tonight?
A: Pasta most probably would be the right strategy.
GDK: What would you have?
A: More beer!
GDK: Guys, enjoy the ride, if you get there! Do you know what time you’re starting?
GDK: What batch is that?
A: H I think or G.
GDK: You have a long day, enjoy it, thanks guys. It’s a problem when the registration for an event is at a winery and you’re drinking beer. It doesn’t really matter but is this part of your relaxation strategy before things get serious?
Training in the Karoo is pretty flat
A: We’re from the Karoo so we’re allowed to bend the rules a tad.
GDK: You definitely are. The day before a ride like this, has there been lots of preparation put into an event like this for you?
A: My partner is sitting across the road looking at me, so I’ll lie and say yes, heaps of k’s.
GDK: I’m a bit nervous, I know I couldn’t have a beer or a glass of wine before because I’m just terrified, but maybe it’s the right thing. In terms of your training, is this part of the year, it just fits into all the riding you do?
A: Look, we’re from the Karoo so we’ve got lots of time there, we do lots of training in the Karoo. It’s a bit on the flat side though. We get to the mountains here and we suddenly realise we’re not as well prepared. That’s why we come back for more year after year after year.
GDK: You think it gets flatter every year don’t you?
A: It does, it depends on how much beer you drink the night before.
GDK: It’s G batch?
A: G batch.
GDK: What time would you get here tomorrow morning?
A: An hour before, I’m looking at my senior –
GDK: You’re looking at the captain very carefully.
A: I’m nervous.
GDK: The pressure is on, do you feel pressure?
A: Heaps, yes.
GDK: During the ride?
A: Every tight single track, switchback I feel pressure. We’re not used to this kind of riding.
GDK: We’ve moved into the cavernous winery and it’s all rather quiet and chilled out here. There’s two gentlemen sitting drinking a glass of wine, are you registered?
A: Yes, registered.
GDK: What time are you starting tomorrow?
A: We’re not actually sure yet, but we’re later, H batch.
Registered and relaxing
GDK: Is this event part of your annual mountain biking? It just fits into your training or do you focus specifically and train specifically for it?
A: This is more a Bucket List item. We got our entry about six weeks ago and we thought let’s give it a go. We went hell for leather for the last six weeks and now we’re going to enjoy it.
GDK: The day before, what’s it been like today, what have you been up to?
A: We both took the day off, went for a spin this morning in Cape Town on our bikes. Been taking it easy, packing and now we’re just enjoying a glass of wine after registration.
GDK: It’s not a bad thing to do, and this evening you’ll have a big meal?
A: Yes, a nice big meal, I think we’ll probably find a nice Italian place, have a nice pasta and probably another glass of red wine.
GDK: Tomorrow morning you wake up, how far are you staying from the start? What’s the procedure ahead of the race?
A: We’re a couple of k’s up the road, we’re staying at a mates flat, he’s kindly given us for the evening. We’re about, I don’t know, about 6km, so it will be a nice warm up ride down to the start. We’ll come drop our bags off beforehand quickly and then come down, have a cup of coffee, soak in a bit of the vibe and take it away.
A: We actually haven’t decided yet, probably a big bowl of oats I think, to start with.
GDK: It sounds like you’ve got it all well sorted here, but there’s a while to go before the sun goes down.
A: This is true, it is Cape Town.
GDK: Go carefully here, good luck for tomorrow.
A: Thanks Gerald.
GDK: Guys still preparing for the ride here and strategising as to how they’re going to get around the first day of the race. A three-day stage race and here they sit, more riders. You guys all riding?
A: Unfortunately, yes.
GDK: Why is it unfortunate, have you not prepared properly for it?
A: No, not at all, three weeks’ worth of riding maybe.
GDK: Surely this is something you can do fairly comfortably anyway?
A: Maybe, we rode with you last time in joBerg2c. So absolutely, we can do it, just another day.
GDK: Three weeks, same with you?
A: Definitely not, I’ve been training the entire year and training for the both of us.
GDK: How seriously do you take this?
A: I take it very seriously and I’m very offended by my partners lack of commitment –
A: And the hangover from yesterday.
GDK: So the preparation has been a little bit extensive in that respect. What’s the plan from here, you’re sitting here at registration, done registration?
GDK: What does the evening hold and tomorrow morning? How are you going to go about the strategy and planning for all that?
A: I think we need to go find his bike and see what he packed and take it from there and see if it’ll be ready for tomorrow morning.
It’s about taking it easy and having fun
GDK: Everyone I’ve spoken to, there’s a clear lack of real strategy of thinking about these things. Ten years ago when we went to stage races, it was quite serious. Everyone was really nervous. Are we quite used to these things now and we can take them in our stride?
A: I think we’ve learnt that if you take it easy and you have fun, it’s really not that hard. We’ve done a few stage races.
GDK: You’re quite comfortable.
A: Pretty much so, as far as the strategy and preparedness. We’ve done a few, so it’s just like every other day now. Jump on the bike, go for a ride, enjoy yourself, just the racing side is now the problem, sitting in A batch.
GDK: Yes, okay, so you’ve revealed yourselves now, are you guys riding?
A: Yes, we are.
GDK: What batch are you in?
A: We’re not in A, we’re in G!
GDK: You’ve done a lot more training than them.
A: By the sounds of it I have, yes, so maybe I’ll pass them.
GDK: What are you going to have for a meal tonight?
A: Just normal lasagne, my wife has made lasagne, a bottle of red wine and then enjoy it.
GDK: Tomorrow morning you’ll rise what time?
A: 6:00, we’ll pedal down from home and start.
GDK: Do you have a big breakfast because you’re going to have a couple of hours out there or what’s the story?
A: No, I don’t normally have a big breakfast, just something small and then on the route I’ll have something.
GDK: Who checks the bikes?
A: Myself and Charl, everyone for himself.
GDK: Has it been done yet?
A: Yes, it’s been checked a week ago, serviced at Paddle Works in Somerset West.
GDK: A week ago?
A: I actually picked mine up yesterday, his was done a week ago, mine is checked, sorted, everything is done.
GDK: I batch guys, you clearly have your bikes sorted?
A: I do have my bike sorted.
GDK: A bit from across the table here.
A: I’ve still got to figure out if my bike is going to fit me or not. I forgot the pedals somewhere so I had to borrow some of his, it’ll be interesting.
A: It’s going to be a long three days, let’s just put it that way.
GDK: But it’s going to be a fun three days.
GDK: It’s all for fun.
A: Yes, definitely, we’re here to enjoy it.
A: We’ll try to be in A batch on Saturday morning!
GDK: Thanks very much guys, that’s what it’s about here, having fun, having a laugh at the start of a stage race. Actually before the race, it’s the day before, registration day, everyone is quite excited, quite happy and chilled. When it rains tomorrow it could be a different story, but they’ll certainly still enjoy that.
That’s how some of these riders are preparing for the Wines2Whales go about preparing for the three-day mountain bike stage race. I hope you’ve enjoyed that little insight, it makes it sound quite easy. It is, it’s fun as well, so why don’t you, if you haven’t taken on a three-day stage race, get down and do just that. Thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Bike podcast, until next time, cheers.