It has taken me five days, to be able to recover enough after a stage, and to write a short story of our trip in the Cape Epic.
It has been an adventure through all sorts of terrain, and I am finally coming to terms with the technical stuff, and am able to stay near Anke on the descends. This event is definitely not for the faint hearted, as many people are spending a full working day on their bikes. And that is before they have to fetch their luggage, find a tent, and wash their bikes.
We have been fortunate enough to have a personal mechanic, Shaun from the Microsoft Cycling team, to do all our hard work, and we have a motorhome to stay in. Luxury!
We are just Gypsying on the side of the road in whatever town we finish in. This race seems to adopt the inhabitants of each and every community that we enter, and the race just takes over the place. A fantastic spirit surrounds this international event.
We have just three days to go before the finish in Stellenbosch. There are many aching bodies, and mine is definitely on the list!
Our first day was difficult, as tours go, the first day is sometimes the hardest as you need to adapt to the surroundings. For us it was the first ride of decent length that we did together. It took 120km over 6 hours for us to get to the finish. We were pretty buggered, and surprisingly, we finished third in the mixed teams for the day.
The second day went a bit smoother, with a lot of climbing early on, and then some rolling sand roads. Anke and I worked really hard, with a push and a pull, to stay in a good group. It is legal in the rules of this event for teams to tow each other. We managed to finish the day as first mixed team, and take the leader’s jersey for that competition.
The next day was a fast and ‘flat’ day, and once again we did a great job to stay in a good men’s group, almost all the way to the end! This gave us a stage win, and increased our lead phenomenally in the mixed team event.
The fourth day was more relaxing for us; we started out slowly, and eventually reeled in, and passed all the other mixed teams. Through the real mountain biking sections - a nature reserve through some fynbos on a mountain side I got my first taste of what the serious stuff is like.
I had to try keep up with Anke, through rocky streams, and rutted, muddy jeep track. It was reasonable for me, for a bit, and then I got caught in a muddy section, and went into the bushes.
Anke said ‘follow my line’, which I did, but next minute I came around a bend and then she was on the floor! We got going again, and once into the swing of things, we went flying past teams in all sorts of difficulty over the rough stuff!
We had extended our lead in our competition, and were starting to have some fun - if that is what they call having your bones shaken up for 5 hours a day.
Today we had the same slow start, but through the little Karoo, and some game farms, things got a bit more difficult. We had to contend with really rocky, steep hills, which I managed to ride. All except two compulsory portages. I’m slowly earning my stripes in the stones.
The most precious moments in this race thus far? The look on the men’s faces as Anke cruises past them over the rough stuff, in the final kilometres of these stages. All I do as we come past is say ‘how you doing?’ (And have a chuckle as I know that they are thinking; what the ___ is she doing here, looking so fresh, and riding away from me!)
Three days to go - let you know how, soon…