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Exhilirating & Exhausting

// September 4th, 2008 // No Comments » // cape town, mountain biking, night riding, table mountain

I went on a night cycle last night. We left from Valley Road in Hout Bay and crossed over Main up onto the dirt road that goes behind the houses on Bokkemanskloof. I went with Peter and Lionel. It hurt like hell! After 30 minutes my lungs were aching and I was wheezing and straining like an overweight chainsmoker on a flight of stairs, except I am neither overweight nor a chainsmoker. I think I have developed a little bit of asthma over the passed couple of years. I definitely need to ride more.

cape town at night
In any case after an hour we were at the top of Constantia Nek. Peter and Lionel were riding ahead and I was lagging behind. It’s easier after resigning yourself to letting everyone else ride away from you and you can ride at your own pace. We were heading up to the dams on top of Table Mountain. The view was superb, my lungs were opening up and I was feeling stronger.

At around 400m up I turned my lights off. The light from the Cape Flats was so bright I could see the grey, concrete road snaking up ahead of me. This is where the mountain starts to kick up. The gradient was averaging around 15% now, my heartrate 180bpm. Lionel and Peter were out of sight.

heart_rate_over_distanceelevation_over_distance

I wasn’t going to give up so easily. If I had stopped, the road would have been too steep to get going again. The climb increased to 17, 18, 19 percent. This is the steepest part of the climb. Its like having a concrete wall in front of you. My heartrate was pushing 193bpm. The highest its been in a long time and my maximum. I was feeling strong but I knew I could only keep this up for a few minutes longer.

Thankfully the road started to drop in gradient. I had gotten to the metal grating that covers a chasm running down the side of the mountain. Peter and Lionel were waiting for me just beyond that. I was feeling dizzy but invigorated. It’s moments like these you wish you could put in a box and take out when you want to explain to people why exercise can make you feel so good.

After a couple of minutes of recovery time we carried on further up to the first set of dams. It was freezing. We estimated it to be 3 degrees. Thankfully there was no wind and the sky was clear.

Time for the downhill. This is an experience every person should try out at least once in their lives. The only way to describe it, is that its the closest feeling I have ever gotten to flying on a bicycle. Everything is dark around you except for your bike lights. The icy wind freezes the sweat on your forehead. And there are a million little orange lights twinkling in front of you. Its so surreal and quiet, except for the whooshing sound of your brakes and tyres. If you go too fast you can barely see the road ahead.

We got down to the top of Constantia Nek. Checked Main Road was clear and let rip down hill toward Hout Bay. We turned off Main Rd at Longkloof and made our way back home along Valley Road.

2.5 hours total. It kicked ass.

Here is the Google Earth image of the ride: