The final day of the Cape Epic was great! Thankfully the stage was shortend to just 47km. I think that all of the competitors had spent enough time on the saddle to forgive the organisers those 30 odd kilometers extra that we missed out on.
Three stages ago Anke and I were in the lead of the mixed competition, and with the final days we tried to enjoy the ride. We went through many different feelings in those three days, most of which were aches and pains, and sore on the saddle. Although there was sense of humor failure on an occation or two, there was still good competitive spirit and fight.
We had a great day 6, which was really tough, as we had to ride through some thick beach type sand and do plenty of mountain hiking up rocky slopes. Due to some good team work, Anke managed to get a head start through to the front of these sections, as I did the water fetching, and as I caught up, we enjoyed a good lead over many teams.
We kept things solid over the flat sections, and even with a slower final climb, we comfortably managed to finish in the top 25 teams for that 115km stage - with no bungee cord since the 3rd day! Anke was really solid and tough, she was able to suffer along behind me as we caught and stayed with some groups in the final 30km. This effort of ours would not have been possible without her fighting spirit!
This is, however, a really tough endurance event, and for ladies, it takes it’s toll eventually. Day 7 was our most testing of the tour with sore knees, saddles that no longer offer any comfort whatsoever, and very tired legs.
The stage started very fast on tar, and eventually a dusty sand ’highway’ that led to the start of the biggest climb of the whole event (1000m +). It took us a long time to reach the summit above the mist and clouds - with some walking, and slow biking. The view was well worth the days of suffering, and this climb, as the Francshoek mountains ringed the lower clouds. This was the most spectacular sight of the tour.
I hung on down the rocky descent, and later our emotions and fatigue were tested. Thanks as well to the little loops that we went through within spitting distance of the finish, we had a tiresome finish to the penultimate day. But there was nothing a glass of wine could not fix, and with only a 47km ride to look forward to on the final day, our spirits were lifted! We had a very comfortable lead in our mixed competition, and Anke was hoping for a good start to the final day of technical riding.
I was not all to excited for the jumps and dropoffs, I had come this far with out major crashing, so I hung back. We had a terrific start, and that was thanks to our leaders jerseys. We started every day at the front with Paulissen and Brentjens, and this day it really counted.
We got through the river crossing in the top ten, and then it was just me surviving the twists and turns, and pushing Anke to keep her and the sore legs in a good place to get over the steep hills.
She cruised the descents, and I picked my way down, and all in one piece we approached the finish line. Top 25 of everyone again! With our arms raised to a magnificent crowd at Spier, we won the stage for our mixed cat, and the tour by a convincing margin. But most of all we had finished the route, intact, happy, and puncture free, in 29th overall!
This has been a fantastic experience, riding through some of the Cape’s most beautiful landscape. Every day had something different to offer, and being a massive endurance event, the long streches of sand and tar road were just what was needed to test the character!
I think that everybody who was able to finish the Cape Epic should be really proud of themselves, and hopefully be able to still enjoy the bike.
Also thanks to all the support people, masseurs, mechanics, and sponsors, this is not really possible without good help.