Stage 5 is going to be a fun one. Not an easy one but fun.” is what Kevin the race organiser said in the meeting yesterday and a hell lot of fun it was but it probably could have been even more if I hadn’t died twice today.
Right out of the gates the tank was empty – not ideal with 1000 meters of climbing in the first 25km but thanks to taking it easy and steady we could kind of still see the guys we usually ride with in the distance. After about 20km I started to feel a lot better and we enjoyed the hell out of a stage that had 34% single track. The bikes were dancing and so were our spirits until “boom” I died again at the 40km mark.
This one wasn’t fun. I was struggling on every little hill and my head went into sleep mode only to be woken again when hitting a tree with the handlebar and coming off the bike at KM60. A quick rush of adrenaline and suddenly I was wide awake. We flew through water point 3 with just a really quick refill of the bottles and I probably should not have mentioned to Stefan that I was feeling better as he apparently had the best legs of his Cape Epic yet and the race was on proper.
Those final 20km were probably some of the most joyful I’ve ever had on a bike. Flying past the other teams and flowing down some of the nicest single trails. Now the big question is – will we pay for it at the King Stage tomorrow? 103KM with 2700 meters of climbing.
We’ll see tomorrow.
We are 25km into Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic and my heart rate is near maxed out as today’s stage is not only one for good riding but also for race tactics. 2 kilometers ago we head to make the decision to ride up a climb with a group way faster than what we should be riding and therefore have a train to ride with in the long 5km flat bit to water point one or go easy on the climb but therefore face the headwinds on our own. It all sounds so nice and pretty but at this point we had already ridden 25 kilometers above our usual speed as it was a flat start to the stage.
Now I am sitting here with 5km to go until the first water point and while my pulse is beating through my eyeballs Stefan clearly has a moment of great legs and decides to attack the group ahead of us. He is on fire like a race horse chasing the carrot and while he is slowly closing the gap I decided to not yet throw in the towel but after a quick calculation of potential energy reserves I decided I can hang on by a thread until he catches the group. As he rides up to the rear wheel of the group I have this brief moment if relief and happiness. Just a split second though until Stefan pulls out to the right and decided to destroy this group as well….
It must be about 5km later that I finally regain vision and see other things than just dust and a wheel and we head on at top speed to water point 2 at KM60. A quick refill costs us our group but the following climbing and single trails – today’s stage is 112km with 2100 meters of climbing brings the other riders back in sight and with a strong push on the final climbs we pass another roughly 10-15 teams before descending into Oak Valley to finish an awesome day on the bike. The longest I’ve ever ridden on a MTB.
3 Stages left but with the King Stage still waiting for us!
Stage 2 of Cape Epic 2017 will go down in the history books as the first stage in the history of the race to be shortened due to the severe conditions the past days. With up to 45 Celsius out on the course and more than 115 drop outs at yesterdays stage alone the only sensible decision race organisers could make.