Terra Firma Race Report:

terra firma

One of the iconic multi sport events of the Cape. A must do.

 Outline:

The Terra Firma is all the land based activities of the 7 discipline of the Total Sports Challenge.

50 km Road Bike

13 km Road Run

25 km Mountain Bike

9 km Beach Run

My Race:

We arrive in Gordon’s Bay and the wind is blowing. Not desperate but strong enough for me to think that my sub 5h might not work out. We will have to wait and see how conditions change. Logistics is sorted out and I go for a 10 minute warm up just to feel the legs.

The siren goes off for the start and I find myself in a group of about 8 including HAnlie Booysen and Ann Harrison. I am by no means the most experienced in pack riding so I keep my wits about me for what is going on. I make some mistakes and touch somebody’s wheel. This is definitely something I will need to work on! I feel strong and do my bit of work. I am pleased that I can match the pace and am strong on the hills. 1h24 and we turn sharp right into transition. I have a 6 minute lead over where I thought I would be. Pleased but too early in the game to celebrate.

T1 is madness, Sean Falconer’s words are drowned out as I grab shoes and hand over bike to Roger. I settle into a nice pace for the run. Initially I have to throttle back and I sit on a guys heels and we run at low 4 min kays. There are a couple of teams that pass me but otherwise things seem to be ticking along. I settle into between 4:30 and 5 min pace. We hit the dirt road towards the end of this section and I am looking forward to the MTB. Gloves on while I run and then into T2 with a 55:26 split for 13km. Quite pleased with that too.

I hop on the saddle and cycle out of transition only to be faced by a monster hill. Dismount and push. Then cross the road and up Highlands. Head down and give it what I can. I don’t have the power I thought I would and as Roger said this is where the race starts. I get dropped by a few guys but I do what I can, the turn off gazebo is in the distance. Now onto jeep track and more up! Nothing technical but we follow a trail of oil. Obviously somebody has broken their sump and left a black line up the middle mannetjie. Tony had warned me about the descent so I was cautious and two guys flew past. Glad that I knew about it as consequences of getting it wrong would be nasty. The route is very well marked and I recover a little before the final sting. Grossvater gear is used and then the view to Kleinmond. I love the last km or so into transition. Such fun!

T3 in 1:25. By now I have 15 min in the bag. I feel I might need it as my calves are fried. I am over sugar by now but grab a gel anyway and head out onto the beach. I look for the hardest sand immediately, others run in the soft sand. I manage to hold onto slow 5min pace. Keeping cadence up is all I can concentrate on. The turnaround comes very slowly. I struggle to hold a sub 6 min pace and it drops to below that for a couple of km’s. I see the end and claw back. Finish in 53 min and total time of 4:38 and 11th overall!! See results here.

Very pleased with the outcome!

I sit in the Rehidrat zone for a while and drink the lovely ice cold juice.

What could I improve on:

My nutrition was always going to be tricky with the fast pace and high effort from the start. I stuck to my plan but having a gel so early in the day made me not want to touch anything sweet by the time I hit the beach. I would like to experiment a bit more with 32GI and see if I can use it in a more concentrated form instead of a gel. I think this might stop my stomach turning against sweet things early on.

I was strong on both run sections but I lacked power on the MTB. I would have to train this more and by getting stronger on the road bike. Not to get faster here but to feel fresher!

The beach run is always hard. Practicing this a bit more might help.

Useful info:

* You will need at least one dedicated person to second you. We initially thought that one person could perform that task for two of us but this is not possible. Traffic is busy and parking at transitions is not always super convenient so this puts a bit of pressure on. Get your second to leave Gordon’s Bay BEFORE the race starts to avoid having to drive past all the cyclists.

* The Terra Firma is no easier than a 70,3 event. I spent a similar amount of time on the combined bike as in 70,3. The combined run legs are harder.

* The road run is hot: hydrate and cool yourself down appropriately.

* The atmosphere is very relaxed and certainly more easy going than WTC events, especially in transitions.

You will have a blast! I will certainly be back to see if I can break 4:30!!

Overberg cycle tour 21 to 24 Dec 2013

The idea of doing a cycle tour has been in my head for a long time. I did not find the right degree of challenge and manageability for our plan until a few months ago.

M and I were cycling in Grabouw and loved it. A plan was coming together for our December holiday. I love this time of year when you can forget your work routine and return to the basics. Bike, eat, sleep, repeat. In many ways last year’s big bike week was prep for this adventure.

Villiersdorp, Groenlandberg, Grabouw

Villiersdorp, Groenlandberg, Grabouw

Day 1: Groenlandberg 60 km 7h
Villiersdorp was the obvious staging point. We left at first light and followed the tar road to Twaalfontein: Our access point to the big green mountain. It was crucial to get navigation right here in order to avoid unnecessary effort on our first (and most likely hardest) day. A short push through soft sand led onto a long straight jeep track into fynbos fields. Sean greenberghad warned us of a portage section

higher up due to the path being washed away. But soon enough that was behind us and we knew we had cracked the worst. A celebratory snack at the top and down the long jeep track to the top of the Viljoen’s Pass.

More sunscreen was applied and we

bike clean and braai action

bike clean and braai action

headed through the forest. With filled up water bottles. Into the heat of mid day. Thankfully it was mostly down so we did not have to work too hard. Exit the forestry gate and roll into a town stocking up on festivities.

Refuel at Peregrine and cruise to Belfield wines just down the road. Our hosts were superb and the Acorn Cottage offered the perfect shelter for two tired bodies.
The owners had sourced braai packs for us for dinner and those went down a treat. We quickly had to readjust our energy consumption as there were no left overs for the next day.

Grabouw, Higlands road, Arabella, Sandbaai

Grabouw, Higlands road, Arabella, Sandbaai

Day 2: Highlands 60km 5h
Starting with fresh filter coffee is always a treat.
The morning was not too hot and we made good time to the base of the pass. Views were spectacular. Iona farm on top has the most stunning position and a very inviting looking dam. We will be back.
The long down towards Arabella. We practiced building sand castles on the new single track starting at the Arabella gate. Well done on the resort to set this up. Certainly improves your sand riding skills! Lunch under the trees. (We won’t be that leisurely when we do the Total Sports Terra Firma in a few weeks time). Tar into Sandbaai. Shop at the Engen and roll down to the coast and the Sandbaai Country House. Luckily they had tv and this kept us amused.
An early night.

Sandbaai, Hemel en Aarde, Tesselaarsdal, Caledon

Sandbaai, Hemel en Aarde, Tesselaarsdal, Caledon

Day 3: Chocolate and Beer is all you need: Hemel en Aarde 70 km 7h
Our host had packed us sandwiches to die for so bags were heavy as we signed in the the logbook at Euodia Cycles. Up the black route we went into the super pretty valley. Can only recommend this! At the top we hit the district road and continued through dust clouds. A lucky water stream by the side of the road and we continue on to Tesselaarsdal. The hidden gem.

highlands road

highlands road

Super pretty surroundings but the hamlet is a bit disappointing. We find a bottle of liquid gold to refresh and we are off on the last bit to Caledon. Watching blue cranes a plenty.
Little Lotta Cottage was certainly spacious and the cracked tiles add to character.

Caledon, Villiersdorp

Caledon, Villiersdorp

windmills

leaving Caledon with windmills in background

Day 4 Sonderend 60 km 5h

We leave the windmills behind and head for the hills. Chasing herds of sheep and guineafools. Finally down to the Sonderend Rivier. Huge and impressive. The heat saps our energy as we climb the final pass. The freewheel all the way into Villiersdorp. Celebratory coffees and cake!
Well done to M who rode really well and always smiled even when things got hard.

Thanks to Sean McGuire of Eco Adventures for info.
Thanks to Mel and Mike of Belfield wines for superb hospitality. We will be back.
Thanks to Antoinette for the fantastic packed sandwiches.

Thanks to all other friends and supporters who encouraged us along the way.
The only logistical glitch we had was at Nature Conservation who only accepted exact cash for permits on the day. This is just infuriatingly annoying. Especially more so after we phoned several time to confirm details and visited the office the week before.

I can only recommend this trip to all. We had an absolute blast and it is very doable with minimal logistical headaches.