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The hardest part of the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century isn’t the three hills in the final third. Nor is it David’s Folly, the swine of a climb to the finish line. Either of the Tradouw’s? Nope. The hardest part of any Double Century is picking the perfect team…
We’ve been doing this a while, here in the event office. Not just as organisers, but as riders and cajolers of some of the most enjoyable ‘social’ teams the event has seen (with a few fast ones thrown in over the years, too, for good measure). Every team has a leader (or two), and every team has its foot soldiers. And, then, somewhere in-between, you will find these characters, a mixture of loveable rogues who will enrich the 202km journey to and from Swellendam, and frustrating fellas who will drive you to distraction. The key is finding your happy medium, a mixture that works for your best day out on the bike.
You wait for the entry portal to open, team list in hand and credit card waiting to burn. This is the most thankless of roles. Don’t expect any reward for getting any of this right.
The other leader
There will always be one person on your team who knows it all. It is unlikely to be the person who did the hard work getting you to the start, and their leadership skills disappear pretty swiftly up the first hill out of Swellendam – not that you would know it, volume-wise. Nod, agree and revert to the actual plan when they need help.
Every team needs a spreadsheet, and every spreadsheet needs an operator. Embrace the nerd – your survival on the last Saturday in November might well depend on their organising the right treats at the last feed zone.
Yes, it is possible to finish the Old Mutual Wealth Double Century weighing more than at the start. Make them a personalised bowl of snacks at each feed zone, and guard the others’ nutrition with a pit bull or three.
04h58: “What? I need a timing chip?”
The silent assassin
The three ‘rollers’ after you turn right towards Swellendam are littered with teams who fail to bring these essential workers. If you can, find more than one; you might not see them for the first 150km, but when push comes to shove – literally – these are the heroes of the team.
He’ll be in the pub the night before, and when he says he hasn’t trained as hard as in previous years (which he has said every year for two decades), he is not lying. Technically, he will be in the pub the morning of the event, unless you arrange accommodation out of town with no chance of making the pub. But… every year, without fail, come the final stretch he will be one of the leaders of your pack with his quiet confidence and occasional cussword.
If you are staying out of Swellendam, make sure The Organiser accounts for the following before you set out on the dark drive to the start: Shoes, chips, numbers, helmets, bicycles. You will be amazed what people can forget at 3am; even highly respected captains of industry can be levelled by sleep deprivation to sheepish beggars of a quick trip back to the accommodation to fetch something critical.
Part of The Organiser’s role should be making sure everyone’s bikes are ship-shape for a 202km trip. That isn’t always possible… and there will be at least one bike on the team that rattles and shakes, whistles and creaks. Generally, it is ridden by the most motivational and talented rider in the team, so practise tolerance and maybe offer a tune-up for next year.
And then there’s the rest of us, the wonderful soldiers that make up every Old Mutual Wealth Double Century cohort without triggering the radar. We get on with eating like champions, riding where we are told (by The Leader, not The Other Leader) and keep the fines masters guessing as to what deed is worthy of a tequila later that night as the team celebrates one mighty impressive day out on the bike, however well it went.