Tuesday 13 April 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 13:55 | No comments

Cape Epic - Stage Two

Date: 22 March 2010
Start/Finish: Ceres
Distance: 90km
Climbing: 1625m

Just like Stage One - Stage Two promised to be a bit of a killer. We were going to be riding the holy grail of mountain biking - single track, and lots of it. However, like life in general, Dr Evil believes you have to earn the rewards, and so before we got to enjoy the fast technical single track, we would be made to suffer for several hours as we climbed relentlessly up.

Day Two underway 
The Apprentice and I had agreed on a new strategy - we were going to ride conservatively at first, and then see what happened. We believed that the melt down from the previous day was a once off thing (we are definitely a glass half full kind of team!). The first hour of racing (from now on I shall use riding - we weren't really racing) passed us by in a cloud of dust and patch after patch of loose sand as we headed off in the direction of the mountains. So far, so good - the Apprentice was quite perky, the pace was good, my morning banana went down well. And then we hit the single track.

Look at that view
This wasn't the beautifully flowing, mountain biking utopia kind of single track. This was the tax we had to pay - technical uphill single track. Nothing kills the legs (possibly with the exception of sand) quite like uphill single track. And to make it worse, it felt like we were riding around in circles - we could see where we had to go, yet we were going in the opposite direction, which doesn't do much for the morale. The Apprentice and I had agreed that we would ride/walk our own pace up the hills. This gave me a bit of time to stop and appreciate the view which was quite spectacular, to chat with the other riders, and very importantly, to rest.

Up, up, up
Before long, we had made it to the top of the first loop of single track, and some fast technical single track awaited to take us to the first water point. We did have a problem though - the Apprentice doesn't have any mountain biking skills, and was going to have to learn quite quickly if he wanted to get to the bottom of the mountain in one piece. And learn he did. Before long, we were catching and passing real mountain bikers, and I think I even caught the Apprentice smiling. He is a quick learner.

We grabbed some drinks and snacks at the water point - the Apprentice discovered the Woolworths Rice Cakes. I had to use all my powers of persuasion to get him back on the bike - he was attempting to eat ALL the rice cakes he could lay his hands on. We eventually got going again on the second loop of the day that would take us up and over a mountain, and then back around it, returning to the very water point where the Apprentice was currently feeding. Talk about motivation. The next couple of hours were filled with lots of pain and suffering as we slowly inched our way up the mountain through a combination of riding and walking. The Apprentice really doesn't like going up hill at all. I have submitted a proposal to the Jersey Government that they investigate the idea of importing a hill or two to better prepare their athletes when competing against the rest of the non-flat world. I am awaiting their reply.

DayTripper Edwards with Support Crew Betts
The great thing about the Epic is that no matter how tough you are finding it, you don't have to look very far to find someone who is suffering a little bit more. I think the Apprentice was that someone today. With the temperatures rising, so did the intra-team tension, and I witnessed several riders suffering from sense of humor failure. One rider was particularly annoyed when his partner who had been waiting at the top of a hill for several minutes whipped out a camera and proceeded make a video of him while asking such questions as "Are you having fun yet?", and "What took you so long?". Since this is a family blog, I cannot write his reply, except to say that it contained several four letter words, and a suggestion about someone's mother.

We got a pleasant surprise when my partner from the last two years, Craig, disguised as a DayTripper, caught us as we finally started to go downhill. We put his fresh legs to good use as he gave the Apprentice a good push as we approached the beginning of our reward - the single track. It was like old times - Craig was on the front, and I was right on his wheel as we flew down the technical single track, the Apprentice not too far behind as he grew in confidence. We caught and passed so many riders - this clearly wasn't going to be an Epic for people that couldn't mountain bike, and where we were in the field, there were lots of people like that.

DayTripper Edwards had fun
After an exhilarating descent, we found ourselves back at the water point we had last seen 3 hours ago. My Dad was waiting in the baking heat, cheering us on. I think the Apprentice thought he was cheering on his rice cake eating world record attempt. Woolworths will make a loss this year, stay away from their shares. Freshly fed and watered, the three of us headed off for what we thought would be a quick 30kms back into town. How wrong we were. Dr Evil had us messing around as we rode in circles up, down and around any little piece of single track that he could find. I had given a quick estimate to my father that we would be back in town in about 90 minutes, yet after 90 minutes we were back at the same water point, with 15kms to go!

The twist turny sandy bit near the finish
The Apprentice was starting to fade, the Dr Evil inspired pointless single track detour sapping his concentration and will to live, so much so that he successfully managed to ride over himself. Perhaps the Apprentice was becoming the Master, as this requires considerable skill. I am still not sure how he did it, but he got the tyre marks all over his kit to prove it.

Sixteen kilometers and an hour and a half later we were back at the same water point for the third time. By now, the Apprentice had had enough. I was suffering quite badly from White Line Fever, and so for the next 15kms tried to push and pull the Apprentice as much as I could. My plans were foiled once again by Dr Evil and his insane love of inflicting both physical and mental anguish on cyclists when we encountered patch after patch of soft sand. Nothing destroys morale quite like sand. We limped on, slowly inching toward the finish line, through one of the less glamorous neighbourhoods of Ceres - in fact, I think it was the rubbish dump of one of the less glamorous neighbourhoods. Not a great impression to leave after what had been quite a scenic day's riding.

The Apprentice, with me close behind
We had the same approach to the finish line as the previous day, and I had quietly warned the Apprentice that we would be riding it all - no walking was allowed, and to his credit, we rode it all the way, finally crossing the finish line.

As tough as the stage was, the massage was tougher, and by now a crowd would gather to watch the Apprentice squirm and writhe in pain as his aching muscles where prodded and poked. Quite a good laugh actually.

STG 2252. Cat
375. GC

Overall: 15:36.15,1



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