Today I cannot help but to reminisce about my first Argus. It was in 2014. I didn’t want to ride it because I had an irrational dislike for the Argus, mainly because it always interfered with the birthday parties I planned for myself. However, 2014 was the first Argus to take place after meeting Jan.
Jan, being the handsome triathlete, outdoorsy, adventurous, rugged Camel-man type that he is (can you tell I’m freshly married?), has at that stage completed no less than 10 Argus rides, loved it and insisted on doing it with me because “You will have so much fun!”. I was not keen. Then one day, about 2 weeks before the Argus, I received an email confirming my entry and my starting time. I was completely devastated. Really. I was scared of drafting, I was scared of crashing… and legitimately so, as I couldn’t even have a drink from my water bottle without falling of my bike or stopping to take a sip, and at that point, I have never mounted a road bike before.
To add to the devastation and pressure, Jan’s mom was an avid sportswoman in her young days, completing 5 DC’s and 2 Comrades. Luckily, mom Jenny is also one of the kindest people I know, and let me use her full carbon road bike for the race, and kitted me out in a little Assos suit. I had all the gear, no idea and was full of fear!
So the weekend before the big race, I set off on my maiden road bike voyage. To say that I was uncomfortable and fearing for my life was an understatement. But I did a 55km ride and that was the full extent of my road training for this event. I decided that if I’m under trained, I might as well over prepare on the nutrition front. I did a lot of research of what to eat and not, and the night before the “race” I put out my kit – the food on top of it – and it looked like I was going on a picnic. There was no hope. The weather was also not looking good, as gale force winds were predicted all around the peninsula.
So on the morning of the race, me, Jan and his dad (Big Jan, who has done 23 Argus rides) set off to the start. Ooooplah! I was in serious company. So I set off on my ride, starting with Jan, and riding the whole race with him (which seriously screwed up his seeding ‘til this day).
On the Blue Route stretch I decided to draft the guys on mountain bikes. At Simon’s Town I had my first stop, completely amazed at all the snacks. (You can totally sell a race to me based on the quality of the water points.) Slowly but surely I chugged along, going tortoise speed towards Misty Cliffs. Going up the back of Chappies I started feeling the strain. So I stopped for a GU and a quick appreciation of the view of Noordhoek beach before falling back into the grind. The last few bends before the top of Chappies was torture, but I made it up with much pain, concentration and swearing.
I flew down Chappies, faster than I was comfortable with (which was objectively speaking still very tortoise-like), but I wanted this experience to be over with…and knew Suikerbossie was lurking. The sweeping gusts didn’t even deter me.
At the bottom of Suikerbossie I was greeted by excited crowds of spectators. The one shouting at me “Lady, do you want a poooeeeess?” At first I was terribly offended, then I realised what he was actually saying, and indeed I did need a push. So being the gentleman he is, I felt Jan’s hand on my lower back and the strain on my legs eased. He kept at it all the way to the top, and as I got sight of Llandudno I was met with a super strong head wind. I was sore, I was tired and I wanted to be done. I didn’t want to do this in the first place. All I wanted to do, was get off my bike, have a little cry, get back on and finish. But crying wasn’t an option, merely because stopping wasn’t. At that ill timed moment, Jan said to me “Baby, now you need to push!”. If I had any energy, I would probably have shouted something at him, but my face just made crying expressions and he knew, to shut up.
The wind got worse, the pain got worse and then it was over. I crossed the finish line, got off my saddle, but couldn’t lift my leg over the top tube of my bike. My chest was aching, I felt like I was getting a migraine, my back and shoulders were sore… only my bum was alright. Big Jan was waiting for us (probably for an hour already) with a beer in the hand.
I slept the rest of the day.
When the entries for the 2015 Argus opened, I was the first to remind Jan that we have to enter. We ended up not riding due to unexpected travels abroad.
But this year, I’m back – determined to do it better, faster, harder and without the help of Jan. I’m not much of a roadie, but I can give it a shot! God’s speed to all of you who are riding! (Pun totally intended!)