Thursday, 17 March 2016

Of tortoises and hares.

The Race To Cradock delivered a race that contrasted two different strategies. Anthony Avidon and his ilk made up the hare brigade while Casper and I fell squarely in the tortoise creep. Alex was a hybrid tortoise with hare tendencies.

The hare's moved quickly between support stations and enjoyed bedding down for good sleep between efforts. The tortoises forewent sleeping at support stations to move continuously down the trail with the occasional power nap next to the road.

The standout hare for me was Anthony Avidon. His speed on a bike is simply phenomenal. He easily rode about 33% faster than us. On day one he had tyre problems and had a faulty Co2 inflator. I gave him mine to use and rode off. In no time at all he had inflated his tyre and was alongside me. After giving me my inflator he rode off at speed and was soon out of sight. He is the fastest rider I have come across on the Freedom Trail.

If you look at the times to Slaapkranz you can see the different speeds of the riders. At that stage no one is sleep deprived and you can see who the fast riders were. If Anthony didn't have tyre problems I have no doubt that he would have beaten Alex to the first support station. I arrived there with Casper. We caught up to Janine a few hundred metres before. Anthony and Fjord were leaving as we arrived and Alex had left 40 minutes before. The rider register and revealed that Anthony had arrived 45 minutes earlier. If the race was simply about speed I would have been looking to ride hard to hang onto 4th or 5th place.

It is the endurance format of the race that makes it interesting. I can't ride fast but I make up for it by riding long. A consequence of riding long is riding even slower when fatigue sets in. It's a tricky calculation figuring out how to take on the faster riders. You need to catch and pass them when they stop to sleep.

When you have a good appreciation of your strengths and weakness you are able to custom build a strategy that will prevail over the multi-day format of the Freedom Challenge events. Tortoises need to be self sufficient for power to run their lights and trackers, and phones as they cannot afford the luxury of being Eskom tethered. That means using a dyno-hub or replaceable batteries.

Another key is efficiency through support stations. My plan allowed 15 minutes to move through support and interim stations with one or two 30 minute stops further into the race. Our shortest stop was just 10 minutes at Chesney Wold where we managed to get tea and a good chunk of food into our bellies. It helps that the support station hosts are tuned into the needs of the racing snakes and do what they can to facilitate a fast turnaround which is greatly appreciated.

As it turned out, I was able to hold Anthony at bay. Mostly because he wasn't racing anyone but himself. Like me, he was looking to race his age. Fortunately for me he is one year older.


Daleen said...

Hi Mike, Thank you for the write up?

Which Dynamo hub are you using and is it the same one that you used for the Munga? If so, what was wrong with it and how did you get it repaired?

I am looking to buy one and need to decide between the SP-8X (Supernova and Exposure) and the more expensive Son 28.

For a light I am looking to get the Son Edelux II.


Mike said...

I used my Supernova hub the same one I used on the Munga. Problem was the small plastic plug that connects the wires to the hub, it was cracked. If I had taken a bit more time to look at it on the Munga it would have saved me a lot of grief. I simply put a cable tie around it and it's working fine now. If ordering a new one I would ask for a spare plug.

Daleen said...

Thanks, I am glad the problem was not more serious than that and I am going ahead to order the SP-8X (with spare plug).

David Kruger said...

Thanks for a great writeup. This was my first "freedom ride". What a blast. I cant wait for the R2R In June!!

Johann Rissik said...

Great read, thanks Mike.