There are those mountain bikers who say cycling uphill is the real deal and those who say cycling downhill is the real deal. Today both versions sucked. In the nicest, most terrible, fun, exhausting and arm cramping way….
Today was the day for the first ‚real‘ Cape Epic stage with 101km and 2300 meters of climbing. We started off in badges according to our prologue time and boy oh boy did our group charge out the gate like it was just another prologue. Stefan and I went fairly hard as well but also steady. At some point I had to laugh about myself. No matter how much I tell myself before a race that I will take it easy, once the gun goes off I tend to forget that. Not at Cape Epic though. Half way through the stage I catch myself laughing as I realize, I am riding scared or better with a hell lot of respect.
Around the 60km mark we hit a climb like I have never climbed on the bike before. The heat was brutal, the wind not existing and the climb was one switchback interval after the other just to make it up that long, long climb. A climb we were not rewarded for with a beautiful descent but punished with some of the gnarliest stuff I have ridden on a cross country mountain bike. A brutal loose rock and sand single track descent that made hands and triceps cramp…and many riders leave the course!
I was surprised how well things were going for the first 70km after dehydrating badly yesterday and then I went ‚boom‘. Boom to a point that I though poor Stefan had to cycle backwards to not lose me. Rarely experienced something like it. Dizzy, the eyes just wanted to shut and all I tried was to focus on Stefan’s back wheel. The heat was killing me and for 15 kilometers it was an inner fight of ‚you need to continue versus I just wanna lie down in the shade and sleep. Maybe puke a little‘.
With 15 kilometers left I started getting rid of the clouds in my head and Stefan and I were able to pick up the pace a little again and we managed to rescue me across the finish line.
We later found out that at least 10% of all teams dropped out today already and the suffering was so bad that a shortened stage is considered for tomorrow. Not going to complain a few bad kilometers in between.
Catch you tomorrow!