This year we selected quite possibly one of our strongest teams to date and the mettle among the ranks has been nothing short of astonishing. Everybody seems to love Pure Savage – it appears the notion of a group of amateurs with day jobs dishing out pain to their mates, is what appeals most to everyone. The cheers of support from other teams we passed during the race on Saturday was amazing! It spurred us on to hammer harder and felt amazing. Thank you for your support guys.
As a result of the awesome vibe several sponsors have come on board for the 2016/17 season such as USN, Ciovita, Bike Hub and Volvo. Volvo kindly sponsored our team entry for the Double Century and XC90 support vehicle, a car so stunning it made us one of the most envied teams in the race. It is a belter right? Kitted out here in our team livery, Thor’s Hammer (that’s his name) epitomises everything about Pure Savage and the hammer philosophy.
This year’s Coronation Double Century was one of the toughest days on the bike for the team. It wasn’t so much the pace and intensity but rather the heat and wind that wreaked havoc over the 200 km route. At one point the mercury touched 40deg Celsius! As a consequence the hurt locker was frequented many times as heart rates soared, cramps pulsated through our legs and sweat stained our kits in a salty crust. It was rough.
It’s hard to explain what it feels like out there, especially when you’re going full gas, but this quote by Marco Pantani fully encompasses what we experienced out there on Saturday – ‘I love the mountains, but in the moment of exertion, I’m filled with a deep hatred. So I try to shorten the suffering.’ Marco is of course referring to the hurt locker – the bastion of pain that every cyclist experiences some time or another. As you can see from the pictures we spent a lot of time suffering out there and as much as it was painful it was also pleasurable.
See, we had a specific goal this year: to beat last years’ time and possibly dip below 5h20m, a pretty realistic goal considering the untimed 10 km neutral zone. We took a measured approach at the start of the race and rotated pulling duties on the front in a double pace line to keep our progress swift and economic. It worked. Jarred and Brendon helped call the orders and soon we were barreling along at 42 kph and passing team after team without unloading too many unnecessary Watts.
Of course, there were the loafers – you know, those freeloaders who enjoy slipstreaming without returning the favour on the front. Anyway those who tried didn’t last very long and soon our blue and red train reached the open expanses of the R324 and were fast-approaching the first climb – Tradouw Pass.
At this point, Jarred took up marshaling duties to ensure we burnt as little matches as possible up here but still kept a decent pace. It worked – despite Will attempting to chase down every faster team coming through at pace. We made it to the top with 10 riders and enjoyed the exhilarating 4 km descent, weaving down at an average speed of around 72 kph and maxing at 86! Scary stuff!
Our measured approach paid off and we made it to the first compulsory stop in 2h48m at an average speed of 37 kph. We lost Nardus and Jon to injuries – a real loss as both these champs are real characters in the team and this signaled the harsh reality of being dropped from the bunch.
The next 60 km after the first stop were pure torture and as we hooked a left exiting Robertson a stiff wind met us head-on. It proved tough work. Some of the stronger riders in the team made it look easy – like William. Will I. Am. as he affectionately became known during the course of the race was ridiculously strong. I don't think he even broke a sweat and rightfully so, this man has completed the Giro del Capo. In fact, I'm pretty sure riding with us was tantamount to Grade 2 maths for him. See, Will is not only a mathematician – he's a cunning tactician, too.
Generals among front-line expendables Jarred and Will knew exactly what to do in the head/crosswinds yesterday. Some of our smaller and less experienced guys struggled through this period but we all made it to the second stop bang-on target.
The heat really ramped up at the stop at Bonnievale as did the Swellendam fan, and the notion of another 40 km at threshold was looking less appealing with every passing second. The team looked drained but our amazing support crew of Olivia and Marlee along with Nardus and Jon helped boost the morale.
As usual Aaron was winging about the breeze, Calvin couldn’t really speak and Klyde was giggling like a Cheshire cat because he couldn’t believe he’d lasted this long. Brendon quashed the murmurs about riding to the end “within myself” and “own pace” as that is just not savage. Like dehydrated mummies unable to talk we limped around delirious and confused in search of anything edible to stuff our faces with.
Except Will. Did I mention how freaking strong this guy is? Carl, Calvin, Marcus and Aaron looked in pretty bad shape leaving the final stop but the last 40 km stint brought a resurgence of confidence to push on. Surprisingly we left compulsory stop 2 with 10 riders but the pace and surging from the groups that merged with us began to take its toll on Carl and Aaron. We lost sight of them at around 185 km with Klyde popping at 187 km and Calvin atomically blowing at 192 km.
This meant Jarred, Will, Brendon, Marcus, Waldo and Brenton were left to push towards the line as quick as possible. Jarred and Will took turns riding up front and held the team together despite the unrelenting wind and heat. The days hammering started to catch up to the boys and our once sky train like pace-line started to look more like a half dead snake. Will and Jarred just rotated together for the last 10 km as the rest of the boys hung on for dear life.
Those three Ugly Sisters truly are hideous pieces of work but we crested them one by one. This left the final climb – we don’t remember it being this tough. In fact, it felt like one of our Everesting challenges but Waldo the Colossus came to the party in a big way and helped push Marcus while Jarred helped Brenton. Will? Well, did you have to ask? He was doing just fine as was Brendon.
The team had done it. We achieved our goal of sub-5h20m and stopped the clock at 5h18m which also secured us 18th position overall. Further back Aaron and Carl started to claw back some time and picked up Klyde and Calvin on the final climb where they finished 4 minutes later in a time of 5h22m. Everybody did their turns on the front during the day until they popped and played a pivotal role securing this time.
This is what the team is about; this is what Pure Savage is about – suffering with mates and enjoying a beer and exchanging war stories afterwards. Special mention goes to Nardus and Jon. Pity what happened but there's always next year chaps – chin up. Not forgetting Jarred and Brenton, our pistons from PE as well as Marcus, Waldo, Aaron, Carl, Will and Brendon our captain.
Seeing how the team has grown in popularity and strength this year is so lekker. While we really get great pleasure from hammering every ride in the face it’s the vibe around the team that really makes mashing pedals so much more enjoyable. Our awesome kit partner, Ciovita has agreed to another run of our current kit, if you would like to get your hands on a set pop us a mail at email@example.com . Hammer!