“To be able to say you’ve ridden a 100 miles off-road is something special to add to your cycling resume.” (AMARider website)
Well, I tried. On a normal day, a 100 mile mountain biking race would have pushed me into the survival mode for about the last third (i.e. being in pain, nursing cramps but still moving towards the finish line). So I thought I could manage this race, which is organized by the team around Meurant Botha, the founder of Amarider. It takes place on the open farm roads around Malmesbury, is non-technical and therefore ideal for me, someone who is not to great on technical and rocky climbs, but prefers endurance off-road events. So the theory went like this: “I’ll be easily OK for the first 100 kilometers and then nurse it to the finish line in time for the cut off.
I knew it was going to be a mind game of knowing the route and what to expect, so I spent time reading the detailed route description, and even went into the trouble of editing my own top tube sticker with the important sections of the route. All in order to not push it too hard too early and know what was coming after the next waterpoint.
Then my alarm clock went off in the morning. I was feeling sick, my throat hurt and my head was pounding. Something like “maybe it is the lack of sleep” went through my head instead of “there is a cold on it’s way and you should turn over and forget about racing today!”. Packed my car, had my breakfast, of I went. At the start I had shivers, but surely that must have been the early morning cold… A beautiful sunrise sent us off, following the farm roads of the Swartland. I never found my rhythm, started severely sweating way too early, but the cold mist sort of cooled me down and made me believe all was fine. After 40 kilometers and a long climb I had my first cramps, something I usually only get when extremely exhausted after a long day of riding.
I expected wonders at the first breakfast point, but the fresh fruit, muffins and selection of energy drinks couldn’t save me at that point. My race plan said “very strenuous 5 km of climbing” right after the water point. At the top of this climb I said good bye to “Niels”, a friendly Dutchman and “Springbok”, a lady from said town, as I had to take it slow. At that point the beauty of the scenery wasn’t enough anymore to keep me going – suddenly the Swartland milk cows seemed to be staring at me… it wasn’t going so great and I made the call to get to the half way point, another 20 kilometers of “fast open riding”.
Those must have been the longest 20 kilometers I have spent on a bike in a long time. I knew my body wanted me to stop, I didn’t want to hurt myself unnecessarily but had to make it to the next stop, to catch the shuttle I somehow imagined to be waiting there for me. Somehow I made it to the stop, relaxed under an ancient shady tree until the cramps subsided and managed to catch a lift to the start in Malmesbury.
The AMARider 100 Miler is a beautiful and an amazing challenge – but only do it if you are 100% healthy. Even though I didn’t have a flu or anything serious that could have caused real damage, my body just wasn’t ready for a challenge like this. I will be back next year, and tackle this again! Thanks to AMA Rider for the great event, wonderfully friendly people and beautiful route!
- Preparation for the Amarider 100 miler (dicarolin.wordpress.com)