Monday, 10 May 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 19:21 | No comments

Cape Epic - Stage Four



Date: 24 March 2010
Start/Finish: Ceres to Worcester
Distance: 86km
Climbing: 1640m




The funny thing about the Cape Epic is that no matter how bad a day you are having, someone will be having a even worse one. At supper the previous evening we were greeted with the news that a rider had died the previous morning. James Williamson failed to wake up, and the medics were unable to resuscitate him. James was a former World 24hr Champ, and him and his partner were lying in 22nd position. The problems that Team Burger Kings had had on the previous day seemed quite trivial in comparison.

The forth stage of the 2010 Cape Epic was a transitional stage from Ceres to Worcester. There weren't any massive climbs, there weren't any super technical sections, and there was even some tar. The Survivor and I had once again had our team talk with the new focus trying to recover a little, and if possible, perhaps challenge some of the nemeses we had built up. From the start The Survivor was like a man possessed - chasing down wheels and bridging groups while I had to do my best to keep up. I really need to find a partner that doesn't go like a bat out of hell in the first hour! The reason for The Survivor's sudden turn of speed was because the first 15km of the stage were all on tar, up and over Michell's pass, and there is nothing that gets The Survivor's blood going like a bit of tar (there are possibly several other things that get The Survivor's blood going, but once again - this is a family blog. I am still trying to figure out a way to harness those other things to make The Survivor ride faster).

Goodbye to tent town in Ceres
Clearly we weren't the only tar lovers, because as soon as we had turned off the tar onto the dirt we encountered several of the "All The Gear - No Idea" type of riders. These are the riders that are under the mistaken impression that by spending lots of money on cycling equipment you can get faster and stronger without actually having to train. Now you can imagine the joy I felt when we passed two such riders on a slightly technical, washed out downhill section. They were both walking  as both The Survivor and I came flying past. Perhaps a bit more time riding their expensive bikes was required.

Off the tar and into the vineyards.
I continued to let The Survivor set the pace as I followed closely behind. As I ate a distinctly unripe banana (isn't it funny how an unripe banana can coat your whole mouth for hours with that dry bitter floury feeling), The Survivor powered us along until, surprise of surprises, we caught the Pink team. We hadn't seen them since THE railway line, so either they were having a bad day, or we were having a good day. We flew in and out of the first water point, keeping a close eye on our number one nemesis (the Pink lady). I thought that we might have turned a corner and that The Survivor was ready for some racing, so I slowly started setting the pace on the front, riding across to the group ahead with The Survivor in tow. And to keep morale up, Dr Evil had kindly provided us with several long stretches of tar.

Just after crossing a river
Unfortunately, I might have over estimated the ability of The Survivor to recover after 3 days of hard riding, and it wasn't long before he started to pay the price for the first hour's exuberances. However, I was determined to stick with the bunch we were with and so offered up my pocket for The Survivor to grab a hold onto. We had also turned slightly towards Worcester, and with the change of direction we were now riding into a stiff headwind. The road was also starting to tilt upwards - not horribly so, but enough to make you mutter some things about mothers and illegitimate children under your breath. This is exactly the kind of riding that I like, and I was in my element, but unfortunately The Survivor had discovered another weakness. He even wanted to know if he had upset me in anyway, and if I was trying to be nasty to him on purpose.

Finally, some downhill!
The rest of the stage was memorable by its total lack of memorable sections. We went up, we went down, we went through some sand, we went over some rocks. We repeated the last sentence several times, crossed a river and went through a water point before arriving on the outskirts of Worcester. Now, anyone who thought that the day's riding was over was in for a lesson from Dr Evil on how to draw out a stage finish to ridiculous levels. We had come over a hill and could see the whole of Worcester in front of us. We were heading straight for the race village and my guess was that we would be finished in about 5 minutes IF we were to continue on our present heading. But being the Epic veteran that I am, I knew better. I smelt a rat and when we saw the marshal waving her flag and pointing to the left I just knew what was in store. We spent the next 20 minutes going around in circles as we did our best to avoid Worcester and the end of the stage. Thankfully, we had gotten into a little bit of a tussle with two other teams and so the racing took our minds of the totally pointless detours we were taking through the Worcester outskirts. The Survivor was even energised by the tussle and put in a good showing of keeping up with and passing the competition. For once, the playing field was level - it was quite obvious that the other riders were roadies as their technical skills were worse than abysmal. The Survivor looked like a pro in comparison, and if it hadn't been for one of the riders having a crash right in front of The Survivor and blocking him, we would have put in quite a bit of time over them.

We finally crossed the line, much to everyone's relief. For the first time in 3 days we actually had some free time on our hands - we hadn't taken 9 hours to finish a stage. We had a shower, ate some food, got a massage and then The Survivor took us out for pizza. I think we all overestimated just how hungry we were - I was quite convinced that I could eat a small Italian village's pizza supply for a year, yet I barely managed to make half a large pizza. Perhaps the extra double thick chocolate cookie milkshake was to blame. After dinner, I deserted The Survivor and left him to fend for himself in the race village as I went to sleep in the guest house with my wife. Apparently he had to fend of hoards of thieving Portuguese cyclists who were intent of taking whatever they could lay their hands on. No wonder The Survivor was a little tired the next morning.

The Survivor survived another stage


STG 4
170. Cat
245. GC
5:50.11,0

Overall: 29:16.30,1
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