Tuesday 15 April 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:50 | 8 comments

Cape Epic - Stage 1

Although we had already started our Epic adventure, Stage 1 signaled the real beginning of the Epic. After the success of the Prologue we were quite confident that we were going to do well. How wrong we were.

After some last minute checks, several nervousness induced toilet stops, and last minute goodbyes we headed off to the start chute. The Epic started with its usual break neck speed, with all our prearranged plans of taking it easy being chucked out the window. We pretty much flew up Simola hill at full tilt, and I was already getting used to seeing the back of Craig. The first hour was fast and tough, through the spectacular forests around Knysna. We had 123km of riding with 3091m of climbing to look forward to. Stage 1 was being described as the toughest stage of the Epic yet.

We made good progress, and eventually got into a comfortable rhythm. The first surprise of the day was to hear Craig's bike make a terrible sound whenever he tried to freewheel - there was a very unhappy bearing somewhere in his rear wheel. As a result, he had to pedal on all the downhills just to keep the bike quiet and in one piece.

Crazy road cyclists!!

The route meandered around the Kynsna forest, and eventually popped out in the Homtini area, the sight of Brenton's brush with death at the hands of a rather large tree. I took it a little slower on the downhills, but this didn't stop Craig at all as he flew down the hill - I just hoped he would be in one piece at the bottom.

And we are off!!

We skipped the first water point, preferring to get the jump on the people we were riding with. In hindsight - this might not have been such a good idea. Things continued to go well, we were still passing riders, Craig's bike hadn't fallen to pieces and before long we were at the second water point. We had a rather quick stop as we spotted some competition arriving just as we were getting some juice. Yet again, this was going to cost us. It was great to see the wives, although I think we caught them by surprise with are speed.

That was soon to be rectified though, as the earlier efforts caught up with us, and Craig bonked quite suddenly and quite spectacularly. Five minutes later, and I would have been the one to bonk. We quickly went into survival mode, and tried to get to the finish in one piece - the hopes of doing well quickly slipping away.

To add to the misery, it was now Svalbaard's turn to have mechanical issues. The bearing in my lower dérailleur wheel had seized, and each pedal stroke caused a blood curdling noise. It sounded like my bike was about to break into a thousand pieces, but there was nothing we could do. We would have to fix this at the end. By this time Craig's legs were in constant cramps, and if you have ever experienced muscle cramps, you will understand the agony. Same thing - not much we could do here. Hopefully we could fix his legs at the finish too.

After several rather annoying uphills and downhills we could sense that we were rather close to the finish at Saarsveld, but in true Epic fashion, we would not see the finish right away. We would have to meander around the forest for just a while longer.

We we did eventually see the finish line, the excited faces of our wives had been replaced by ones of worry and confusion? What had happened in the last 50km that had taken us so long? We had literally been "left for dead" out on the course, and I don't think we thought we could have a bad day. At least we didn't end up on our backs in a ditch!

Russell whisked away our bikes and got them cleaned and serviced - replacing all the dodgy bearings and giving the bikes some TLC. Yolanda and Bonte got us fed, and nursed our wounded egos. We also got lots of TLC, and they did all the chores for us - clean the water bottles, mix the juice, made our beds, carried our bags. I could tell that there were many cyclists that were jealous of all the attention we got.

Nothing like a farm stall for breakfast.

I got my first encounter of Nikki and Karen - our masseuses, and what a proper full-body massage felt like. Craig promised me that by the end of the week they would have me crying like a baby. They almost achieved that on day 1!

Saarsveld put on a good spread, and the spirits in tent town were still rather upbeat after a grueling day on the bike. I managed to bump into Amanda and Sarah Wielopolska - people I had gone to school with, and they seemed to be having a great time.

STG 1 85. Cat, 125. GC


  1. Seriously dude?


    sheesh. and you actually wrote it down... its allright calling it that name when you are alone but this is in the public. next thing we know you will give your car a name.
    you are one point short of getting an honorary chick name!

  2. I didn't name my bike - it was born with a name, and the good people in the Maverick factory named my bike Svalbaard. I know it sounds like a hairy lesbian name, and is not one I would have chosen, but that is what my bike is called.

    But you don't ride - I can't expect you to understand.

  3. Hey a name for a bike is perfectly normal! And with Svalbaard being an island off Green land that makes it extra tough!

    Just ask Olive, Annie, Stumpy, Alf and Noodle if they have problems with their names!

    Harsh luck on the mechanicals though.

  4. Looking forward to your posts on the other stages. Glad you guys made it in one piece. Nice pic of Bonts.

  5. still dude... that is just wrong... Svalbaard.... hehehehe. you should tell the people that make your bike to give the things better names. Svalbaard is not good! It sounds like something from the LOTR books.

    And mr Anonymous: Noodle???

    To what depths can one person sink!

  6. and i'm sorry that i dont seem to understand dude... you should maybe try and explain it to me next time... i am sure i will listen...

  7. Don't you name all your chickens? Probably not. But my bikes have far more personality than chickens anyway...

  8. of course we name the chickens, all 1/4 of a million of them. and every time one dies we have small memorial service. it might sound nuts but that is just the caring type of people we are.