Tuesday 22 April 2008

Posted by Velouria Posted on 10:33 | 3 comments

Cape Epic - Stage 4

After another good night's sleep (I can't say the same for Craig as he wondered around looking for his tent until all hours of the night) we awoke to a quiet, still morning. The howling wind from yesterday was gone, and so were some of the memories of yesterday's 'epic' stage.

My wife had diligently patched up all my wounds, treated my blisters, and had even washed my helmet. True love. I was all ready to go.

Oozing wounds

Today we had 121kms and 2620m of climbing to look forward to on our way to Swellendam. By now I wasn't even looking at the profile of each day's stage, and wasn't really concerned with how long it was either. I would keep pedaling until either I couldn't pedal anymore, or we crossed the finish line - whichever came first. Secretly I hoped it was the finish line for both Craig and I.

Some wives made their husbands carry their own bags - shocking!

Craig was looking much better. By much better I mean he no longer resembled a walking zombi with skeleton-like features. He was even smiling. We had gone from "I am never doing the Epic again" to "I will let you know after the Epic" which I took to be a positive sign.

A bit of a smile

Once again we agreed to take it easy at the start, and just see what happens. We were now well entrenched in D, and so it was virtually impossible to have a fast start. After a short stretch on tar, we turned off onto the dirt and started slowly climbing out of Riversdale. An immediately noticeable difference was that we were not being passed on the uphills like yesterday. In fact, we were slowly riding past riders.

Looks way better than a tent!

Bonte had given me explicit instructions today to make sure that Craig drank his juice. He had to get through a bottle an hour, and so today my official role was naggy housewife - every ten minutes for 6 hours I had to ask/tell Craig to drink. I was worried not because Craig would dehydrate, but rather of the pain Bonte would inflict on him if he didn't drink. How would we finish the Epic then?

The first 2 hours passed by rather uneventfully, except for a rather serious crash that we saw the result of, until my stomach started acting up. I had had one spoonful of a rather dodgy and bubbly stewed fruit yogurt for breakfast, and now I think it was now starting to bubble in my belly. I found a burp every 10 seconds or so to be quite relieving, and so for the next hour or so I was not a very nice person to ride next to. Several cups of coke and a bunch of grapes (which took me about10 minutes to eat as I don't like grape pips) settled my stomach enough to at least do away with the need to burp.

Some encouragement along the way

We had been promised a South Easter today, and that would have made today's ride quite pleasant as the wind would have been from behind for most of the stage. But it failed to materialise. Instead we got hot, dry conditions and the parts through the fynbos felt completely airless.

Just one of the climbs that lay in wait for us

We were still passing people on both the uphills and the downhills and were making good progress towards the last waterpoint of the day at Suurbrak. We approached Suurbrak on the tar, and once again I was in my element. I went to the front, caught a couple of riders who tucked in, and proceeded to hunt down a bunch in the distance. One of the riders I was towing along came along side with a big smile on his face - we were flying along at 50km/h - possibly the fastest he had ever been on a bike.


At Suurbrak, Craig got rid of his Camelbak, and had one bottle to ride to the finish with. Unfortunately we had no idea how far the finish was from that watrepoint, or what the route was like. We couldn't be that far from Swellendam? We made good progress out of Suurbrak, with Craig climbing quite well. As is customary in the Epic, there is no such thing as an easy finish, and just when we thought we were going to be heading towards the finish, we went in the opposite direction into the forested hills above Swellendam. By now, the temperature had climbed to the upper 30's, and Craig and his one bottle of water were taking strain. We were faced with a series of short steep hills that really killed the legs. Even I was suffering, and had to be rather nasty and turn down a request from Craig for a pull up a hill.

A couple more torturous uphills awaited us, and I me lost my sense of humour with some spectators who told us we were "nearly at the top", only to be faced with several more short climbs. When a farmer told us were were on the last climb of the day I asked him if he was lying to us. Turns out farmers don't lie, and we had a nice downhill into town, and across the finish line.

Halfway - four down, four to go.

Epic partners

The roadie and his recovery drink

The rest of the day was spent doing the usual post race stuff, and we found a nice spot in the shade to laze about in. Before long, our spot had been converted into a field hospital with Yolanda dressing wounds (mine) and attending to saddle sores (strangers). She quickly got a bit of a reputation and very soon had several strange men showing her parts of their bums that I prefer not to think about. But she was in her element. It is amazing how people are prepared to sacrifice dignity for comfort.

The nurse having a great time

And another bum

After a good dinner we headed off to bed, where I got to hear about Johan and his partner's tales of day 4. Johan and partner were our tent neighbours that night, and insisted on having a conversation at full volume with from their separate tents. Not even my earplugs could drown them out. But eventually the sleeping tablet kicked in, and I nodded off to sleep.

Post stage relaxation of a different sort

STG 4 94. Cat, 128. GC


  1. Everyone loves a spot of Spam on the old Blog site.

    PS pls do mention what the heck was going on with the dodgy GPS trackng thing and website at some point.

    Thanks for another stage by the way ;-)

  2. as the tech back-up to the back-up (i had to inform the women how far the boys were every half hour using the site) i can tell you what went wrong. I think i know sort-of anyway, although it was explained to me by yo, and lets face it, what woman know about technology doesnt stretch further than the microwave... ( i am going to get it for that one)

    Firstly, it was not a tru gps system. What this apparently was was a small little cellular telephone transmitter. That means that the program lost the tracking when they were away from any cellphone towers and was also slightly inacurrate when they were close to less than three towers. Also, the women forgot the charger at their hosue one night and didnt charge the thing, which led the battery to run out on i think day 6just out of Napier. This made them look as if they expired somewhere in a kloof.
    Hopefully that explains it.

    And now for dane... Dude, take charge or your woman! you actually have footage of her publicly inspecting some strange mans crotch on the net! shocking stuff... but then we do know your wife by now... i think people not familiar with Worst-case-scernari-yo would not understand though.

    oh, by the way, just cos it looks like its the thing to do today, here is a hug.

    NOT! Get real dude! No hugs! NEVER!!!

  3. I was going to save this for stage 5's blog, but just to set the record straight - it is a GPS unit. It just communicates via cell phone to upload the infomation. If it isn't in cell coverage, it is still logging data, which it will upload when it enters coverage again.

    However, I do think they gave me a dodgy unit - it would take forever to fix onto the satellites in the morning, which is why it looked like we also started at a different point to where we finished. It also struggles to see the satellites and the cell towers if there was moisture about (as in a sweaty cycling top).

    And lastly, there was the saga of us giving up in Napier - the battery just ran flat.