Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Restless Nights

Uninterrupted nights of sleep are a distant memory. I just can't stop dreaming about the race. Judging from conversations with other entrants for this years race it seems to be a common problem. For the first timers the dreams are a bit generic as they have no idea what the route entails. Preceding the race in '07 I have weird dreams about riding around in some indistinct forest passing other competitors going in all directions. This years dreams are more vivid. I am now riding around lost in familiar looking country side - not familiar enough to know where I am but typical landscape for the various parts of the race. In one dream I am condemned to riding endlessly without ever stopping! We all wish we could ride forever until it is all you can ever do!

Glenn had a rest this past week owing to having a flu jab. His idleness had him resorting to a multitude of strategies conveyed via sms - "If we ride....... then we can.......... and be there in xx number of days!!" Thankfully his rest week came to an end before we had a chance to shake hands on a 3 day strategy to Capetown.

How long will it take? We have been asked by a few people how many days we expect it to take. Last time I finished on day 21. The record set that year ('07) was a day 17 finish. Tim James smashed that record last year by finishing on day 15. He did have at least 2 ordinary days (by his standard) so a day 14 finish should be easy enough for him this year. I suspect that he would not be satisfied with that and will be looking to finish on day 13. This is a huge undertaking but not out of reach of an athlete of his calibre. So how long will it take the Tandem Wranglers? To be quite honest we have no idea how we will stack up over the varied terrain. We know the bike is very fast over flattish undulating ground, such as the 170km stretch between Willowmore and Prince Albert. But, this speed does not come without a price. While we are able to rip across this type of terrain we do get rather tired. We have shown that we can ride technical stuff at a reasonable pace but cannot match competant solo riders. Portaging is another question mark. How fast can we move the beast up and over hard portages... we don't know.

It will come down to how long we can spend on the bike each day. Tim James in setting his 15 day record averaged 10km/h measured as distance covered each day from start to final stop. This is not that fast by normal standards but this is not your normal race. The tandem is tiring to ride as you are not at liberty to stand and pedal as on a solo bike. While pedalling you remain seated for 95% of the time. This is tiring on your butt, back and body in general.

Another problem is that everyone has bad days. You can also have good days which then have the effect of smoothing out your overall performance. 2 guys on a tandem having unsyncronized bad days and good days results in just loads of bad days. Loads of bad days = many days in the saddle.

So how long will it take? We would like to finish inside of my 21 day finish in '07. How much inside that time? Here is the dilemma. If we said 17 days and finished in 19 we will be viewed as having gone soft. If we say 20 and finish in 18 we will be over achievers. I think being an over achiever is better than being an underachiever so we hope to finish in just under the 26 day cut-off.

1 comment:

steve said...

making a finish prediction in FC??? there are so many variables!

I think you guys are good for at least 19..but there's only one way to find out!