Thursday 17 April 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 08:25 | 6 comments

Cape Epic - Stage 2

With the events of the previous day still fresh in our minds, we lined up for the start of Stage 2 in Saarsveld, a little nervous of the day ahead of us. Will our bikes make it? Will Craig's legs make it? With 137km ahead of us with 2518m of climbing we had every reason to be nervous.

We had discussed a plan over dinner, and the idea for today was to ride conservatively at first, stay in our zones, and see what happens. We still had another 6 days to go.

Having the wives around made things seem a little more bearable - at least we knew there were people looking out for us.

The view from the back - our new start position

The stage started off at a rather brisk pace yet again, but we quickly got found a comfortable pace as we meandered around the outskirts of George. Before long we were nestled between two mountains, with the Old Montague Pass ahead of us as the only way out. Quite a long pass, but by no means a tough climb - I went to the front and set a reasonable tempo - having learned our lessons from the previous day. Before long we climbed over the summit, and got to enjoy a fair bit of downhill. I took up my position on the front, and proceeded to hunt for any targets up the road.

The closer the chopper, the closer the leaders. We very rarely saw the chopper today.

It is often quite amazing how alone you can feel in a race like this. For about half an hour, the only other cyclists we could see were two dots in the distance ahead of us, and no one in sight behind. Yet they must be there. Somewhere. Eventually we were caught my a rather large bunch, and we slotted into the back - enjoying a bit of a rest as we traveled across the rolling hills towards Calitzdorp.

That roadie was still hanging around! Wasn't he embarrassed yet?

We eagerly awaited spotting our rent-a-crowd supporters, but at every vantage point we passed they were nowhere to be seen. Were we that slow? Did they have a problem?

After yesterday's mechanical issues, every odd sound that my bike made had me thinking it was about to fall to pieces. Craig was adamant that it was just the lack of lube on the drive train that was making the noise, but I preferred to think it was far worse. At the second water point we got some lube, and my bike breaking sounds vanished - I should have listened to my older and wiser Epic partner. While the bikes got lubed, we indulged in some fruit and juice at the water point, and I don't think I have ever eaten a banana that tasted so good, even though it was brown and squishy and warm. I would make a point of having some bananas every day at the waterpoints.

Chaos at water point two. We were already long gone by this stage though.

Things were going ok - we had been dropped by the bunch, but we were still making good progress towards the big hill. The temperature had climbed to the mid 30's, and I was starting to feel sorry for the real back markers - it was going to be a long, hot, tough for them. Turned out it was a long, hot, tough day for us too!

As we neared the third waterpoint which marked the beginning of the big climb, the road meandered next to a refreshing looking river. I could see Craig was getting distracted by the river, and with temperatures now near 40C, it took a lot of focus and self control to resist the urge to stop and swim. By now we were starting to experience similar problems to the previous stage - nothing mechanical, just physical. Craig was taking strain again, and so the pushing and pulling began.

While the climb might have been ridable, we walked most of it. I was still feeling good, and so would ride on up ahead, leave my bike, run back down to Craig, ride his bike on up ahead (that bike climbs fantastically), and then repeat. I hadn't worn my "walking" MTB shoes, so walking was giving me blisters.

After several "You're almost at the top" comments from spectators we eventually got to the proper top, and a nice long downhill awaited us. The organisers had put everyone off this descent by saying how dangerous it was, and so in addition to having to deal with the tricky descent, we had to negotiate slow riders as well (who had all passed us on the way up). We had chosen to wear Maverick kit today, and on the descent I was passed by a lady who knew the Maverick people in Natal, and proceeded to have a massive one sided conversation with me. When she realised I couldn't keep up, and was struggling to talk and concentrate at the same time, she just upped the pace and disappeared down the hill. A little humiliating...

On the descent my rear brakes overheated, and I lost them completely. That didn't bug me as much as the thought that I might lose the front ones at any second, and so I took it a little slower until the rear brakes cooled down. Speaking to people afterwards, several people suffered from the same thing, and quite a couple had rather serious crashes.

Once at the bottom of the hill we had about 20kms to go to the finish, and I hoped we could knock them off quite quickly. Unfortunately, by this time Craig was finished, and was suffering quite a lot. I told him to hang on to my camelbak, put my head down, and rode for the line - trying to get another bad day behind us.

The excited and cheery faces of our wives had been replaced by ones of concern and anguish. If they didn't have an ulcer yet, they weren't far away from getting one. The wives did a fantastic job of feeding and watering us, pampering to our whimsical needs, and stroking our rather bruised egos. Craig was feeling nauseous and dizzy, and in hindsight should probably have gone to the medical tent. I was beginning to wonder if we were going to arrive in Lourensford together.

Nikki managed to get Craig to squeal. I don't think she was the only cause though - the waves of cramps up and down Craig's legs were doing a good job on their own.

We didn't discuss the next day's stage at all, and preferred to focus on the tasks at hand. That was tomorrow's challenge, and we would deal with it then.

STG 2 122. Cat, 171. GC


  1. shit dude.
    that partner of yours has a thing for pain...
    craig you crazy bastard!

  2. Finnished ?!! very polite - I was so far passed finninshed I had no idea. I found new limits that day

  3. That reminds me - didn't you make some not so manly sounds while we were approaching Calitzdorp. It was only then that I realised you were in serious trouble!

  4. I know you guys were suffering in the midst of trying to make it to the end of the day's ride... the supporters suffered too - getting updates and worrying more with every update (worrying about you two and the wives). Trust me, if my colleagues don't hear about the epic until next year they'll be stoked! There will be a next year won't there???

  5. Of course - we are already starting to plan for next year's Epic. We will write this one up to experience ;)

  6. Remember when I said at the start of the prologue " ..imagine if we could take this fitness as a base into next years Epic...." Well here we go !!