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WP Cycling - What were you thinking?


Grease_Monkey
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So, I didn't post this yesterday because I didn't want to do it in anger, but a day later and I still feel it's worth a mention.

 

A friend of mine lives in Piketberg and talked me into doing a road race this weekend - The Piketberg Community Road Race by the Sports Trust. We are both mountain bikers, but both relatively fit and able to complete a 100km ride comfortably. So although we knew we are able to do the even we didn't really know what to expect. The event did form part of the WP champs series so we knew it would be a race and not a fun ride. None the less we weren't sure what category to enter and just chose 2 because it seemed right - we very quickly found out we didn't belong there and I got dropped quickly, my friend hung on for a bit longer. Anyway, that's not the issue - so on to that.

 

I packed two water bottles, roughly 1.3l. This is enough to last me on the hottest of days at least 1 and a half hours. Anyway, not knowing where water points would be I rationed myself, and made it last to the 50km mark. Now I must mention at this point I was riding a comfortable pace at 28km/hr average and felt I could maintain that to the end (way off the pace of the contenders, but still just under 4 hours for 100km is by no means terribly slow). At the turnaround point at 50km to my surprise there was no water and my bottles were dry. Some other riders around me also were out of water. At this point my Garmin registered 35 degrees, so it was hot. 

 

I started dropping my pace knowing this was going to be tough to get to a water point. At 60km I really started struggling and started to dehydrate, still no water. At 65km I see my friend sitting under a tree waiting for me - he says he though I would be in trouble because of the water issue (thanks for waiting!!).

 

Now again, I have to digress. At high school I was competitive at road racing, and even at this point I drank alot of water (some people just do). At all the races there were ample water points. I mention this now because the general attitude I have experienced from riders who I asked about the water point issue ranged from "It's a race, not a joyride", to "None of the other WP races had water points". Funny how a race suddenly means people don't need water??? I know the guys in front had support vehicles that supplied them (I saw a chap hanging onto an SUV sipping water after they had turned around - I was still on my way to turn around point). 

 

Anyway, back to my day, at the 70km mark my friend says let's take a shortcut home - he lives in the area. We do that because at this point we realise there will be no water points along the route - ended up doing just short of 90km, 40km (2hrs at the pace we were going because of cramps, and dehydration) of which was without water. 

 

Today, I am at home, sleeping mostly, my kidneys feel like they have been beaten by a cricket bat, I am still seeing double, and only now starting to feel human again. 

 

So I just want to know, what the hell were the organisers thinking organising a race in near 40 degree heat, with no water points at all??? It is completely irresponsible. Let me make it clear, we did not expect a full spread with pom pom girls at water points, warm water on the back of a bakkie at the turn around point would have been fine. Not everyone can do 100km on a very hot day with 2 bottles, and that has ZERO to do with fitness of how prepared one is for a race.

 

The very least that could have been done is to communicate to riders that there will be no water points on route so they could be prepared (hydration pack) - even though I don't think that is really good enough. And before I get told again that none of the WP races have water points - that's not a reason, and I have not done one before so how would I know that?

 

Rant off.

Edited by Grease_Monkey
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That is quite bizarre. Unless you're supposed to be so pro you have a car following you with bidons handed to you every so often.. :-)

Strange enough that's the attitude most people have had that I spoke to. It's mind boggling to me.

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Only a few of the teams have support vehicles.  Most participants just finish the race with their 2 water bottles I think.

 

I agree it is irresponsible, WP should be held to some kind of standard for hosting an event open to the public.  Anyone can enter, all are welcome.  If you invited cat1 racers only and everyone knew there would be no water it is understandable.

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Only a few of the teams have support vehicles. Most participants just finish the race with their 2 water bottles I think.

 

I agree it is irresponsible, WP should be held to some kind of standard for hosting an event open to the public. Anyone can enter, all are welcome. If you invited cat1 racers only and everyone knew there would be no water it is understandable.

Exactly my thoughts...

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Interesting, I have done a few WP races including the Piketberg one (not this year), I have never seen a waterpoint at any of them, nor do I expect to see one. But I can imagine it being a nasty surprise if you are a first timer relying on a waterpoint to get you through the race.

 

Maybe communication could have been better but I do think that if you enter a 100km league race you are expected to be able to do the full distance without stopping at waterpoints.

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Interesting, I have done a few WP races including the Piketberg one (not this year), I have never seen a waterpoint at any of them, nor do I expect to see one. But I can imagine it being a nasty surprise if you are a first timer relying on a waterpoint to get you through the race.

 

Maybe communication could have been better but I do think that if you enter a 100km league race you are expected to be able to do the full distance without stopping at waterpoints.

I'm not a 100km league racer, and nowhere on the entry form did it say that only league races should enter. If it did I would not have entered the race. It was open to the public and as such they should cater for the public (or just not make it open to the public).

 

Even so, when I was a league racer (13 years and 20kg less ago) there were always water points in the KZN races - which I used. On 40° days it's necessary. It was never expected of us to complete a race on limited water, in fact my coach at the time drilled us when we didn't drink enough water. Maybe things are just done different here.

 

But like you said, communication would have gone a long way here - whether that was to say there is going to be no water, or to say that this is not a race for the general public.

Edited by Grease_Monkey
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My team mates also complained about no water before the pass since their bottles were empty at that point and in the sweltering heat it really would have helped.

 

I think more than half of the Cat3 entrants decided to quit and not do the pass because of the lack of water and heat. So you were not the only one suffering, I was also.

 

Half way up the pass I phoned my girlfriend waiting on top of the pass to bring me some water/coke else I would have quit also. Drank some coke and used the water to cool my head down which did wonders...

In the end I did not care about my time I just wanted to finish it.

 

PS: I was in Cat3 and saw you guys (I was wondering what is two mountain bikers doing in Cat2) around the +-60km mark!

 

Edit: The temp prediction were something like 29 and not +-35 so perhaps WP Cycling also did not expect the heat.

Edited by DJTerblanche
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My team mates also complained about no water before the pass since their bottles were empty at that point and in the sweltering heat it really would have helped.

 

I think more than half of the Cat3 entrants decided to quit and not do the pass because of the lack of water and heat. So you were not the only one suffering, I was also.

 

Half way up the pass I phoned my girlfriend waiting on top of the pass to bring me some water/coke else I would have quit also. Drank some coke and used the water to cool my head down which did wonders...

In the end I did not care about my time I just wanted to finish it.

 

PS: I was in Cat3 and saw you guys (I was wondering what is two mountain bikers doing in Cat2) around the +-60km mark!

 

Edit: The temp prediction were something like 29 and not +-35 so perhaps WP Cycling also did not expect the heat.

Good to know we weren't the only ones! I was wondering how some of the faster guys were coping.

 

My friend and I were on gravel bikes (but started with the 2 guys on mountainbikes). We definitely did not belong in Cat 2 (or 3 for that matter) haha won't make that mistake again - but that was just a lack of knowledge of how the categories work when we entered. There was a description but we interpereted that wrongly...

 

Well done on making the decision to tackle that pass in that heat and without water!

Edited by Grease_Monkey
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The main mistake here was that there was a lack of info during the entry process. It should have been stated that there would be no organised water points.

 

For league races it is just understood that you will have your own support (this does not help a new comer who doesn't know what to expect). Quite often the format of these races is a shorter lap and then you have a wife/friend at the start/finish who can hand over a bottle when needed.

 

The other mistake is that you must stay with a group in this type of racing or you will be too slow and will battle to finish.

 

The main thing is that you are okay.

 

I hope this doesn't put you off permanently, try one of the lap format races in the future. They are a lot of fun.

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I remember reaching the top of Versveld pass in 2016/2017(?) in 30 degrees plus heat, my last drop of water was finished halfway up the pass, only to find out there is no water at the finish line and I have ride the 10km back to the venue to get something to drink.. 

 

I was not mightily impressed to say the least so I have some sympathy for Grease_Monkey...

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The main mistake here was that there was a lack of info during the entry process. It should have been stated that there would be no organised water points.

 

For league races it is just understood that you will have your own support (this does not help a new comer who doesn't know what to expect). Quite often the format of these races is a shorter lap and then you have a wife/friend at the start/finish who can hand over a bottle when needed.

 

The other mistake is that you must stay with a group in this type of racing or you will be too slow and will battle to finish.

 

The main thing is that you are okay.

 

I hope this doesn't put you off permanently, try one of the lap format races in the future. They are a lot of fun.

Yup, agreed, info would have made a world of difference!

 

But I am not put off, will definitely do some events next year and know what to expect so I can just wear a hydration pack (or have some extra bottles in the lap format).

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Good to know we weren't the only ones! I was wondering how some of the faster guys were coping.

 

My friend and I were on gravel bikes (but started with the 2 guys on mountainbikes). We definitely did not belong in Cat 2 (or 3 for that matter) haha won't make that mistake again - but that was just a lack of knowledge of how the categories work when we entered. There was a description but we interpereted that wrongly...

 

Well done on making the decision to tackle that pass in that heat and without water!

 

Cat3 might have been fine.

This is the speed differences:

 

Avg speed before turn-off to pass: 

Cat1: 40.5

Cat2: 36.8 

Cat3 breakaway of 3: 34.5

Chase group: 33.6

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