This along with two other team members out due to family commitments we were down to only seven riders and the thought of a 170km team time trial seemed a little daunting.
The low numbers coupled with the fact that the team manager was too busy on Instagram and forgot to enter us as an actual team, we started in the lowest seeding, M-Z. This was due to our latest import’s last PPA event being the 2004 Double Century where he podium-ed with Will. This saw Pure Savage see off all the other teams of Savage on the morning!
When the flag dropped the boys spent no time hanging around and by the circle, we had already broken away from our start group, so far so good. Turning onto the Hellshoogte road we started passing the J-L group where one lone soul latched on for the day. We caught and passed the majority of H-I by the top of the climb making sure not to put too many Savages into the red! We even had time to shout a little “Hammer!” to our ladies team just before the top of the climb!
The team got to work quickly after the descent into a well-oiled pace line and just set to work ticking off the kays to the sound of deep sections bouncing over the Chappies-like surface of the R45. As we turned off the R45, we had picked up the leaders of the H group. As the train rolled onto the R44 the boys could see two big carrots in the form of groups ahead which upped the ante and the pain in the legs until the first call of steady was uttered by Brendon.
As the team tore through the ever-warming morning, the groups on the horizon got closer and closer after each rotation, not much was muttered but the looks on some of the faces going back up the paceline were proof that we were not on a coffee ride. As we crested the Windmeul climb we had caught the front of the F group. We started to have people try to join in the paceline on the front, but whenever they found themselves near the front a panic would ensue with the next Savage having to pass the dead wheel to keep the train steaming ahead.
The Savage train trundled towards the second major climb of the day with quite a large number of carriages and happy passengers on board. Just before Bothmaskloof, we passed the front of D and C groups. We tapped a steady pace up the climb for our diesels and after a quick refuel, the train was back on track. As we entered Malmesbury we had caught back up to the group that did not stop at the water station.
Only having eight riders started to take its toll on the pain train, the dual rotating pace line was hurriedly replaced with a single pace line with those with a little more in the tank doing longer pulls and those on the limit now with the heat picking up sitting on the back with the other happy but hot passengers.
The mammoth turns on the front were being taken by Ben “The Beast” Nortier, Waldo “Watts” Zvenster and Brendon “Slammed” Stevens into the hairdryer-like crosswinds out of Malmesbury towards the Silos. This took its toll on both the passengers of the express and the team, with the temps creeping towards 38 degrees we made a rookie error not stopping at the Paardeberg water point. The boys started checking the same bottle for water with the same result of hot air being squeezed into their mouths.
This lack of water was the last nail for Sean “The Rock” Newbery as he popped, so much so he even stopped his Garmin, Savage. The next to fall victim to the heat was Willem at the water point just after the N1 we stopped at to refuel. Once we were all ready to go we all jumped onto the bikes and rode off, except Willem, his legs decided they were going to stay at the water stop. Not long after Willem’s pin being pulled Will “big blade” Robinson pulled the rip chord allowing the five upfront to solider on to the finish.
Through all the carnage of losing half the riders in the last 5km, the pace line was about as efficient as Metrorail’s central line. Ben forged on throwing a revived Stuart, Brendon, Waldo and Kevin onto his wheel and dropping the hammer. This hammer lasted till the railway line where the sudden jar sent Kevin “the Bus” Dolley’s legs into cramp and uncoupled him from the final four.
This left the remaining Savages to grind out the final kilometres catching all the riders that had carried on at the water point. The communication had degraded to grunts as the next Savage rolled through to up the pace on the run into Stellenbosch. The boys came in just under 5 hours and the last Savage home rolled in 10 minutes later to find a pile of bikes and bodies in the shade of one of the small trees on the finishing straight!
Having scrolled through the Strava flyby the winner of each of the groups from C to L spent a fair chunk of time holding onto the boys' wheels making good use of the tow! Well done to all those that finished the event, the temperature and the hot wind made it really rough getting back into Stellenbosch
A massive congrats to the Pure Savage mixed racing team for claiming the third spot in the team competition in a time of 5:22!! All the Savage team's preparations are on track for next months Coronation Double Century!