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

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

Friday, 4 June 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 19:55 | No comments

Cape Epic - Stage Five

Date: 25 March 2010
Start/Finish: Worcester
Distance: 27km
Climbing: 860m

The Pocket Rocket looking good in blue
Stage Five was a bit of a strange day for most people. It was time trial day, which for most people meant a rest day, unless of course you were a pro and your life depended on winning the Epic. For the rest of us Stage Five was just another way of saying "A chance to sleep late and then go for a bit of a ride, and then spend the rest of the day chilling in Worcester". That's exactly what The Pocket Rocket and I had in mind for today.

Blue kit, blue socks, blue gloves, blue bike - where are the fashion police now?
Queuing for our 9:30am start 
 As usual, we were going to take it easy, I was going to follow The Pocket Rocket blah blah blah, but really, who were we kidding? We both knew I would stick to the plan for about 10 minutes, and then my competitive nature would get the best of me and I would end up making The Pocket Rocket suffer on the climbs.
 Looking cool, calm and focussed.

Dr Evil had found another perfect location for an impossibly tough route, 860m of climbing in just 27kms was going to be a killer. This was going to be mountain goat heaven with short steep climbs and crazy descents. I couldn't wait, but I could see that The Pocket Rocket was nervous.

And we're off.
Stick to the plan!
After getting a Tour de France style send off down the ramp we quickly got into a good rhythm. We had both neglected the option of a warm up ride - what is the point when you are sitting in 300 and something-eth position. As I expected, The Pocket Rocket set the pace initially, and I just latched onto his wheel. As the road started to tilt up, I started to get a little restless, and when we spotted the team that started 2 minutes ahead of us my will power crumbled. I had to chase them. The one thing about the Epic is that no matter how bad you are feeling on a bike - there is ALWAYS someone worse off, and today we found that someone quite early on. At about 5 kilometres into the ride we road past a team that had stopped by the side of the road. My initial assumption was that they had had a mechanical, and as I was about to mumble the obligatory offer to help, the paler of the two riders looked across to us with desperation in his eyes and proceeded to projectile vomit while his partner looked on helplessly with fear and trepidation written all over his face.

At least The Pocket Rocket hadn't tested our partnership like that yet...

Up up and more up
The "flat" part of the route.
The course for the time trial really was brutal - really steep climbs, loose descents and washed out corners. The technical nature made the riding tough, and a lapse in concentration could easily have ended the race right there, but both The Pocket Rocket and I made it through successfully - The Pocket Rocket's technical skills improving with each descent, as well as his resolve to suffer up the climbs.

Like a moonscape
Getting ready for the downhill.
Me - making lots of dust as I fly down the hill
MTB Heaven.
Our spectator was on hand to take a some photos and videos of us as we neared the halfway mark - I am always amazed at the lift a friendly face can provide.

After initially just wanting to survive, we ended up putting in quite a good effort and moved up several places. Whether or not we had been a little silly would be answered by our performance in the following stage.
Racing for the day almost done.

I think The Pocket Rocket had a good day.

178. Cat
247. GC

Overall: 31:03.04,7

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

170. Cat
245. GC

Overall: 29:16.30,1

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Posted by Velouria Posted on 20:12 | No comments

Cape Epic - Stage Three

Date: 23 March 2010
Start/Finish: Ceres
Distance: 115km
Climbing: 2280m

Stage Three was supposed to be Dr Evil's masterpiece, his pièce de résistance, the tour de force of his ability in devising torturous cycling routes for mountain bikers. From the day the route was announced the only thing on many people's minds was the obstacle that Dr Evil had found for us - affectionately known as Mt Evilrest. Survive the stage today, and the rest of the Epic would be a stroll.

Dr Evil's magnum opus
Thankfully, some enterprising mountain bikers had pulled a fast one on Dr Evil and had somehow convinced the land owners to demand payment for access to Mt Evilrest. Never before in the history of cycling have so many owed so much to so few. Whoever you are - we salute you. Without Mt Evilrest, the route looked a lot more manageable, but still by no means did it look easy.

The revised route
The Target and I had once again had a team strategy meeting - we had flip charts, presentations and performance evaluations before we settled on a new strategy - go very slowly and survive the stage. It wasn't a strategy that differed much from the previous day's, but we had tweaked it here and there. Once again we set off through the not so glamorous neighbourhoods of Ceres, but this time I was on the back as the Target set the pace. We made good progress, and when we hit some tar I could see the Target cheer up quite considerably. It wasn't long before we took a left turn and started the first climb of the day.

The Target's date with destiny awaits
Our nemesis - The Girl in Pink - was sighted briefly as we slowly climbed the dirt roads outside Ceres, but before long had once again left us for dead. I was beginning to think that I needed to find a new nemesis - someone that we might stand a chance against, but none of the riders around us were nemesis material. There was a guy on a 29er, just like Craig's, but he was too friendly to be a nemesis. There were some foreigners, and they just wanted to know more about South Africa - certainly not nemesis material. Yolanda had pointed out some guys she knew with horns on their helmets, but we had yet to see them on the route. They would be suitable, if we could just up our game.

On the front and ignoring the Plan!
Back where I belong.
After what seemed like an age of climbing we finally made the first water point. The Target was struggling, so I  gave him an extra minute or two to scoff down the Woolworths rice cakes. We were near the back of the field, so not that many people would upset if he finished them off. My dad had made the trip out to the water point, and was one of a handful of spectators cheering us on. We had done 30kms, and had another 90kms to go. At our current pace we would be in for a 9 hour day!

Next month's dinner at the supporters accommodation
We continued to climb - nothing particularly steep, except for the odd technical climb strewn with loose rocks, ruts, and struggling cyclists pushing their bikes. I found these climbs quite enjoyable, the challenge of picking a line,  staying upright and avoiding obstacles (rocks, ruts and cyclists) made for some good riding. It also gave me an chance to show off my skills and boost my ego as I showed off my impressive skills to the walking cyclists. At least that's what I thought. As I stood at the top of a particular climb waiting for the Target, ego puffed, Craig came along with his DayTripper board and rode the whole climb as well. Suddenly I was just another rider who could ride up hill like a DayTripper. Damn him!

The Target wasn't far behind - I could hear his throat clearing noises getting louder and louder as he walked up the hill, his hill climbing reserves completely depleted. A quick Gu at the top and we were off - I was keen to follow Craig down the rather technical descent. On the way down we passed Mr Stander, and while in previous years I have passed people like Christoph Sauser, David George, Max Knox and Brendan Stewart (they all had mechanicals), this wasn't the famous Mr Stander - it was his dad. I think the technical bike handling gene skips a generation.

Even the supporters were getting hot, waiting in the sun
It wasn't long after the bottom of the climb that Mr Stander once again passed us, and so I found my new nemesis. I don't think we saw him again that day, but in the coming days would see quite a bit of him. With the  major climbs for the day behind us, we meandered around on the Swaarmoed plateau. Interestingly, the Target seemed to be suffering from a "Swaarmoed" (heavy heart), as well as heavy legs - he was really suffering, so much so that he wasn't even making his throat clearing sounds. It was around this time that the crazy talk started. He wanted to quit. Not even seeing the turn off to the Mt Evilrest that we were supposed to do, and then not taking it, cheered him up. Throw in some sandy patches and the Target was in a very dark place. One particular sandy patch got the better of him - he had approached it at speed and as his front wheel hit the sand his bike came to a complete stop, but the Target kept on going - a perfect Super Man impression. Thankfully he was in one piece, but his hatred of sand was growing.

After wanting to quit several times (I think I counted six times in total), and lots of pushing and encouragement, we made the water point at the halfway mark. We had been going for 4h30, and I was suddenly quite worried about the cut off. Any mechanical issues and we would be cutting it fine. We only had 10 hours to finish the stage. Being told by the announcer that the leaders had already finished didn't do much good either. After depleting another water point's Woolworths rice cakes, getting some chain lube from Speek (my local bike shop's mechanic) and saying hi to my dad we set off for the second half of the stage.

Ambulance == Danger!
We were immediately rewarded with 10kms of  fantastic downhill, although extreme caution was required - it was fast, loose and had a couple sharp corners. Several riders around us came short, and we later heard that Craig did too. Once back on the valley floor we hooked in behind Schalk Burger Snr ( a former Springbok rugby player) - a mountain of a man with the strength of 100 oxen, and a very quick temper. Another team had also hooked on behind Oom Schalk, and we let him do all the work for about 5kms. The other team then tried to pass him as we entered some farm land -  I thought we were about to witness some cyclist on cyclist aggression. Oom Schalk let the two riders know that he didn't appreciate their tactics, and judging by the way his arms were flying about was busy giving them a demonstration of what he would do to them if they didn't retreat to a safe distance behind him (my spidey sense had been tingling, and I had made sure that we were already a safe distance behind Oom Schalk, along with his partner).

What a fabulous downhill!
The temperature by this time had risen to around 43C, and there wasn't a breath of wind. The Target was taking strain in the African sun, having left the cold climate of his flat (and sandless) island not that long ago. We had a bit of a climb ahead of us - only 200m of climbing - but given the climbing we had already done, and the temperature - it felt like 2000m of climbing. It was at this point that the Target declared once again that he wanted to quit, and that he wasn't having fun. I told him to look around - to look at the faces of the other riders and see how much fun they were having. Each and every rider wore a grimace on their face, teeth clenched, sweat pouring off them. No one was having fun. And yet this was why each and every one of us were here - to suffer, to push through it, and make it to the finish. I had wanted to remind him of our team name the previous year, but diplomacy was needed.

A kind farmer had erected a shower of sorts - cold water flowing from a hose pipe - and the Target made a bee line for it. I don't like getting wet, and so had ridden around it and was waiting under a tree. While I waited I dished out some Mule bars to the locals, did some stretches, and have a conversation with a rider who had complained to me that the Target wasn't letting other riders use the shower, and that he reckoned the Target might be there all day. After what seemed like an age we were off again, and we had finally turned in the direction of home. That is usually enough to trigger white line fever in me. Throw in some tar and flat farm roads and all I want to do is get to the finish.

White line fever!
With the Target tucked in behind me, we made great progress - catching and passing several teams. Suddenly the day didn't seem so bad at all. And then the Target got hit with an apple. Some kids had been sitting on a dam wall. I had waved at them, and they had waved back. I was puzzled by some apple pieces on the road, as I was about to say something, the Target got hit by an apple on his right shoulder. If he had had his way, he would have stopped right there and possibly killed the apple thrower. Today was not the day to mess with him. I managed to get the Target to keep on cycling, but about 500m on we hit some sand. Not a patch here and a patch there, but about 2kms of continuous soft sand. Being so close to home I had hoped the Target would have gritted his teeth and pushed on through, but the Apple Incident had taken it out of him - he wasn't even going to attempt to ride the sand, and told me as much, using several words that aren't suitable for this blog.

Another one down.

he Target - alive, but only just
We eventually cleared the sandy section, but the damage was done. We limped home to an enthusiastic welcome from our supporters - completely knackered both physically and mentally, but in once piece. That night the Target got a special massage on his apple bruise, and I got a special massage on my arm that was cramping from all the pushing. Team Burger Kings were battered and bruised, lying way down the overall placings, but we were still in the Epic. The next stage was a transitional stage, and hopefully we would start to improve.

197. Cat
291. GC