and down the escarpments towards the Zimbabwean border. We simply turn around at the 75k mark and ride the same way back.
After yesterday, however, I am having second thoughts.
We did basically just that. A 150k ride down the race route. Up until 115 kilometers I was feeling great. But as we turned around at the bottom of the escarpments I immediately started to suffer. As we climbed up the hills the wind practically stopped and it was steaming hot. I was sweating like never before, a continuous dripping from my chin.
Rick took off and I could not follow. Tom dropped back and pretty soon I found myself in no mans land. The water in my bottles did not cool me off anymore, it was that hot. It was probably good that I was alone as if our follow vehicle had been behind me I would have climbed in and called it a day.
After about 30 kilometers of gradual climbing and with no water left I saw Rick who had decided to wait for us. We waited for another few minutes and Tom and the car also caught up. More water. Cold water. I started coming back to life.
By then we only had about 18 kilometers to go and I was starting to think that I would actually make it. After another 8 or so kilometers, however, I started feeling a bit dizzy and nauseous. Why push it? I thought and flagged down Peter in the car, climbed in and my day was over after 153k.
It was by far the hardest 150k ride I have ever done. Not because of the speed (we averaged a very reasonable 30.5), but the heat. My heart rate monitor showed that the average temp during the ride had been 39 degrees and peaking at 48.
So: How the hell will I manage next Sunday? Well, I guess next weeks course will not be exactly as tough as we will turn around earlier and hence skip some of the steepest climbing. But then again, the pace will be higher for sure. I really hope that the rains will have started by then as that will bring the temperature down significantly, and looking out the window today chances for that are good. On the other hand, plenty of rainfall will make the two gravel sections very very interesting indeed.
I am getting nervous.