Thursday 24 June 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 21:27 | 2 comments

Cape Epic - Stage Six

Date: 26 March 2010
Start/Finish: Worcester to Oak Valley
Distance: 123km
Climbing: 2240m

With the end almost in sight, the Epic was slowly heading towards Lourensford, one stage at a time. Today's stage was going to be a long one, and just to make sure that we couldn't accuse Dr Evil of being soft, we would be venturing over his favourite mountain in the whole world - Groenlandberg. The Terrier was in a good mood, and looking determined. If we survived this stage, the Epic was practically over.
Even the Pro's look nervous.
As always, we started off on tar, and I had be on the alert as The Terrier dodged and weaved around, between and, given his lack of height, under other riders.We hopped from group to group, finding the best possible people to wheelsuck. With some clever moves, we managed to put in some distance between ourselves and the rest of the bunch, so that when the bottlenecks came, we were, for once, on the right side of the bottleneck.
The view from the back, where we started.
I had been hatching a plan in my mind to ride my new 29 inch bike - Nelly the Niner - for the next two stages. Svalbaard, my Maverick somehow got wind of my plans and on several occasions tried her best to through me off. On one occasion I had pretty much resigned myself to a high speed crash, when, just inches from the ground she relented and kept me upright. I should have taken the hint and banished all thoughts about Nelly, but I didn't, and Svalbaard would make me pay later.

The high speed nature of the first 30kms also brought another problem to light - I had no legs. For whatever reason, I wasn't riding nearly as comfortably as I had been for the previous stages, and I was feeling quite uncomfortable on the bike. I couldn't let The Terrier know as he might have used my sudden weakness to seek revenge for all the pain and terror I had inflicted on him up to this point. It was a case of putting on a brave face and gritting my teeth, and secretly hoping that either I got some legs, or that The Terrier lost his before he could exploit his advantage.
Go Svalbaard Go!
The only secret weapon that I had was that I don't mind hills that much, whereas The Terrier is hillophobic (my request to add hillophobic to the Oxford dictionary is currently pending). And thankfully Dr Evil had obliged and given us a hill to climb that we'd both ridden before - The Terrier and I rode it in 2007, and Craig and I rode it again in 2009. I think its unofficial name is Cow Patch Hill, and from the top you get a good view of Villiersdorp. Previously, The Terrier had ridden several minutes into Julian and I on this hill, but that was when The Terrier was younger, fitter, and stronger. He put up a good showing again, climbing well, and the hill was just what I needed to get the legs going. On the way down the other side, as I was enjoying the tricky technical descent, Svalbaard acted up again, and this time she didn't relent at the last moment. I went down in a cloud of dust - nothing too serious, but enough to take the skin off my elbow and knee, and let me know who the boss is. I made sure no thoughts of Nelly entered my head for the rest of the stage.

We made good progress over the rolling hills of the middle section of the stage, riding with people we'd never seen before. The Terrier was still doing a great job - gritting it out on the climbs and riding with more and more confidence on the descents. We eventually arrived at the foot of Groenlandberg, and faced a 17km climb. The mood on the route had changed, and everybody slowly withdrew into their shells as they prepared to face their demons for the next hour and a half.
Mountain bike heaven.
The Terrier and I had worked out a way to ride the hills - it really came down to both of us riding at our own tempo and pace, and we'd "reconvene" every now and then so that the gap didn't get too big. A snack stop a quarter of the way up the climb went down well with The Terrier, and once again he had to be pried away from the Woolworths rice cakes. Slowly but surely we inched our way up the climb, always half expecting a steep section at every turn. But it never materialised. The second most talked about climb of the 2010 Cape Epic turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. After all the hype and fear scaremongering that had been going on, Groenlandberg passed us by like a damp squib. At least we had some great downhill to look forward to, and boy did we fly down that hill. It's always easy to spot the roadies - they are the guys who really can't go downhill fast, and using this classification, The Terrier was no longer a roadie - he flew down that mountain!
A pretty boy doctor TV personality - aka The Competition!
With a handful of kilometres to go, we entered the single track at Thandi. I kept looking over my shoulder for The Terrier, and couldn't see him behind me. Where was he? I eventually spotted him - I was looking too far back - he was right on my wheel, and being so small, I was looking right passed him. Try as I might, I couldn't go fast enough to ride away from The Terrier.
Our final tent town.
A couple more hills and descents, some single track in Oak Valley, and the finish awaited us. Once again, we rode past the finish, which drained the last drop of strength from The Terrier's legs and cracked his moral, but it didn't matter - we had not only survived Stage 6, but ridden one of our best stages so far.
Another stage, another finish line

Stage 6 finishers - a job well done.
With two relatively short stages left, the mood had changed quite considerably in tent town - the Chill Zone was full, beers were being drunk, people were relaxing. After she had been cleaned, I took Svalbaard aside and thanked her for behaving for 6 days of rather tough riding, and for the 3 previous Epics I had done on her. Yolanda had brought Nelly through, and I was going to finish the rest of the Epic on her.

Tired, weary, but one stage closer to Lourensford.

148. Cat
207. GC

Overall: 38:01.55,9



  1. dude
    is this not a few weeks late?

  2. It is, but at least I update MY blog. It's almost as tiring writing up a stage as it is riding one - takes me a while.