Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Mark Hardy (WeatherZone) entry - The Prologue

  Here is an entry from Mark Hardy.  I couldnt upload his photos, but it gives a different perspective.

Up early today for the opening stage of the Cape Epic, the Prologue time trial. Packed all the bikes in the car and headed back out to Meerandal in the pre-dawn light. Arrived to see the winery a hive of activity. The actual Prologue started about 15 minutes before we got there and there were TV vans and helicopters buzzing around. Awesome site. Our start time was 8:27am and Fozz/Buzz started at 9:10am.
I hardly slept last night. Combination of nerves and a few other things on my mind. So felt pretty terrible preparing for our race - bad headache and nausea. The other guys were all pretty pumped and pretty soon I found myself in the starting chute.

I realised then just how big this event is. I really felt as if I'd been teleported from my couch in front of my TV into a Tour De France time trial. It was a surreal feeling. Soon we got the countdown and were on our way. Probably due to nerves I guess, but my heart rate jumped pretty much right out of the gate and soon I was getting heart alarm beep from my bike computer every 20 seconds or so. We tried to keep a settled pace but the TT started off with a long climb that really had to be ridden pretty solidly. Teams were sent off at 25 seconds intervals and pretty soon we had caught 3 teams ahead of us just before the top of the hill. This was very good as the following descent was narrow and twisty and we had clear traffic most of the way down. This pattern was repeated several more times with some of the climbs being very steep - the roller coaster like descents made the effort worthwhile. We were plowing our way through the field and were only passed by one other team while we ended up passing at least 20 I expect.

The TT had a hill top finish which was pretty cruel. All up 27km and 900m of climbing. Our time was 1:44:38 which was good for 25th place in masters. We were extremely happy with that. Buzz and Fozz were 4 minutes better and were in 92nd position. All up great results to start the event.

Then we packed it all up for the 130km drive to Robertson where we will spend the next 3 days.

The countryside on the drive was spectacular. Very similar to the Mac Donnell ranges around Alice Springs only grey instead of red. A similar metamorphic sandstone. Very dry climate with just low saltbush for vegetation.

Robertson is a nice little town lying in a valley surrounded by spectacular rocky ranges. A town transformed by this event. The tent city was set up when we arrived which houses most of the riders, mechanics, media and other supporter for the duration. It's a site to behold.
This photo shows about half of it. In the background in the dining hall which 160m by 50m. The organisation is amazing.Soon after arriving we settled into our dormitory style accommodation at the school very close by the event centre. Then headed over for dinner and the nightly briefing.
It had a been a massive day and we were all very tired. Tomorrow is Stage 1, 112km up and down the ranges to the north of town. So we got our stuff prepared and were in bed by 830pm. Most of us were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows.


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