Wednesday 30 June 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 18:31 | No comments

Cape Epic - Stage Seven

Date: 27 March 2010
Start/Finish: Oak Valley to Oak Valley
Distance: 99km
Climbing: 2160m

We awoke on the morning of the second last stage of the Cape Epic and were greeted by some cool, cloudy, windy weather. It was hard to believe that just a couple of days ago in Ceres we were dying from temperatures well into the 40s. I think everyone was quite relieved to be riding in some cooler temperatures. In addition, there was a general buzz about tent town as we were heading towards mountain biking Mecca - Lebanon - home of some great single track. While the idea of doing a loop of 99kms didn't appeal to many, the thought of the single track and party atmosphere afterwards was enough to get everyone motivated, including The Islander.

A grey and chilly tent town
First hill of the day
Getting to grips with Nelly
I had said farewell to Svalbaard, my Maverick mountain bike, and thanked her for the 4 Epics that she survived with a near perfect record of reliability. It was time to ride Nelly the Niner. In hindsight, this wasn't such a good idea, particularly on this stage. There were just too many hills, and my legs didn't have the power required to climb them comfortably. This levelled the playing fields for The Islander a little.
Team Burger Kings
With all our warm weather gear on, we set off for the penultimate stage of the 2010 Cape Epic. I had to pay particular attention to what The Islander was wearing, as we were no longer wearing our 5339 tops, and he is quite easy to lose, being small and all. The first 30kms passed by quite uneventfully, except for a highspeed fall that The Islander had, and a slow speed topple over that I had.
Keeping an eye on The Islander
Single track heaven on Oak Valley
After reaching Botrivier and stocking up on some snacks, we turned onto some district road and this is where Nelly came into her own. We had caught a largish bunch of riders, but as there was quite a stiff headwind no one was really prepared to sit on the front and do any work. I made sure The Islander was nicely tucked into the bunch, and then went to the front. For the next 10kms or so Nelly and I pulled about 20 riders along, not one of them offering to help. As we pulled off the district road and onto some jeep track, one rider thanked me at least.
I am smiling - inside
With the "fun" part of the stage now over, we had to pay our dues and started climbing. This climb was The Islander's worst nightmare - it had several steep sections, and was littered with lots of sandy patches. Just imagine the swearing. Luckily, the steep sections soon quietened him down. After what seemed like an age of climbing, we finally made the next water point on the top of the mountain. The Islander had requested a extra long break - he was taking strain. Since we weren't going to catch the leaders any time soon we had a nice leisurely stop - snacking on muffins and rice cakes and enjoying the coke and Energade on offer. We had 40kms to go, and some great single track ahead of us.
Leaving the final water point
The stop had done The Islander good, and we made good progress towards Lebanon. Just like on previous days - no matter how bad you think it is going, there is always someone a little worse off. Today we passed a guy running next to his bike - his free body had given up the ghost and so he could only free wheel on the down hills. And there is nothing much that us fellow riders to do - he was all alone in his private hell, so close to the end of the Epic, with only his partner for company.
When we finally made the single track of Lebanon I was expecting The Islander to ride like he rode the previous day and be all over my back wheel. Unfortunately, the climbing and the Epic in general had dented his enthusiasm. It was just as well, as I was still learning how to ride Nelly, and had some rather scary moments where I overcooked some corners or misjudged some obstacles.
1200 riders and all alone
After leaving the single track of Lebanon, we had the gradual climb back to Oak Valley and the finish to look forward to. It was around this time that our new nemesis caught and passed us - The PrettyBoy and The Scrummie. The Scrummie was amazing - towing The PrettyBoy up all the hills. If he could do it, so could I, and so I started to push The Islander at every opportunity I got. We made such good progress that we ended up catching The Coach. Hill after hill we struggled on, The Islander digging deep and doing a great job of satisfying my competitive streak. And before we knew it, we were once again at the finish line. Seven stages down, one to go.
The Giant and The Dwarf?
Crossing the line
Nelly had performed well for her first Epic stage, but not nearly as well as The Islander. It hadn't been an easy stage that we were all expecting and he had done a great job in ticking off the kilometers, one by one. We had 60 something kilometers to go to Lourensford - and for the first time since the third hour of Stage 1, I think The Islander believed he could make it.
Thoroughly exhausted from the day's riding

174. Cat
253. GC

Overall: 44:44.46,7

Lights out on Stage 7


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