March 25, 2014
The weekend before last was one I won’t be forgetting for some time, if ever. It was an experience in every sense of the word, but with one key theme holding all of them together; bicycles...and more specifically, Cervélo bicycles.
There are certain sporting events which, for many endurance athletes, have carved themselves something of a bucket list status, and the Cape Argus in South Africa is certainly one of those elite few. So it was without hesitation that we accepted the offer when Cervélo announced that they would be inviting a few members of their European community – including Simon and myself (Lawrence) - to ride this monumental event.
Throughout my sporting life, I’ve held a regard for these ‘iconic’ races that encompasses excitement, respect, fear, ambition and achievement – the ratios of which I’ll leave out! Take the London Marathon back in 2006 for example, a truly iconic race, which I went to expecting great things on the back of a half marathon PB and perfect preparation. As it turned out I simply had a terrible day, such is the nature of sport, and the performances preceded a work-family-injury dictated hiatus from any sort of real physical endeavours.
It took another icon, the Nike Hood to Coast in Oregon, to get back out there and get involved with a mass participation sports event. As someone who worked for Nike, doing such a race in its state of origin, Oregon, was something I couldn’t pass up, and the experience was enough to recapture the host of emotions tied up in doing such things.
That was in 2007. Needless to say some time has passed since then, and perhaps indeed why such a chord was struck upon the opening of Cervélo’s invitation email.
The Cape Argus, for those who don’t know, is the biggest sportive in the world with over 35,000 entrants every year. From its base in Cape Town, the 160k loop circles the beautiful African Cape, and provides countless vistas of the rugged coastline as the route toils up its climbs and sweeps down the well-earned descents, making every kilometre an absolute pleasure.
My training for such an esteemed event was fairly moderate, or rather frankly bordering on non-existent as my colleagues here at The Tristore will begrudgingly testify. I had rightly or wrongly been adamant that my laurels could be safely rested upon, but come race morning, and a terrifyingly strong wind due to afflict the entire outward leg, my confidence was left waning. When a rider in front of me was blown off the road, into the side barriers, and finally left as a tangled mess on the floor, it had all but dissipated. But this was merely the fear element of the emotion myriad, and once out on the open road it was forgotten.
As it was, I rolled over the finish line a few seconds under the 4 hour barrier; the achievement box could thus be satisfactorily ticked – at least by my own standards, anyway. This was my first ever bike event, and I consider myself unbelievably lucky to have been granted the opportunity to have had such an event christen my induction to sportives. But it’s given me an insight to why so many of us do them so religiously; for the buzz, the effort, the scenery, the achievement, the self-contested race, and that’s something I’m equally grateful for.
Now, as I said before we were granted the entrant’s ticket by Cervélo Europe, who had gathered a few dealers, distributors and managers for their annual ‘Brain Bike’ gathering, at which Cervélo roll out the new year’s bikes, technologies, and talking points.
After Cervélo's senior cycling technologist Damon Rinard had personally asked The Tristore’s resident bike whisperer Simon for corroboration on a certain aerodynamic detail, the fleet of S5 and S5 VWDs were majestically rolled out for us to ride the Argus on.
And what a ride it was. I’ve religiously ridden an RS for years; afraid maybe of the aggressiveness of the S range, and the possible comfort they might compromise. But my fears were proved increasingly superfluous throughout the 108k, as the massive increase in speed that comes with the S5 came at a price that the ride’s comfort accommodated for with complete ease.
So this blog is a thank you, really, to Cervélo, for making it all possible; from recapturing an inner sporting mojo, to highlighting what a fantastic bike the S5 is, and finally for giving me my first dodgy cyclist’s tan lines.