When the alarm goes off at 4.45am, it is never a good feeling. Especially when you have 113k to race in a “5 out of 5” rating for the first stage of this years Epic. By the way, 5 is the hardest.
We took off to have breakfast at the race village. For me it is porridge, banana, honey, a couple of pieces of toast and jam, yoghurt and washed down with a couple of cuppa’s. Now if it was a sunny morning down at Bacino, I would relish a good breakfast. However, force feeding yourself at 5.30am is not the same.
|Waiting in the Start Chute|
|Weather was favourable. We were heading into those mountains|
The weather was predicted to be cool with rain. Anything up to 20mm which would be a problem. Yesterday was 36c, so this was the expected cool change. Luckily the rain held off. We had some drizzle, but just enough to settle the dust.
We were on the start line at 6:30 for a 7am start. The gun went off and the pace was crazy. The trick is to tuck in and keep out of trouble. Everyone is nervous and there are crashes and lots of yelling in multiple languages. Finally after 20k on the rivet, the pack breaks up and you can settle into a bit more of a groove. Rusty put himself into the dust and Damo had to wait for him. We kept out of trouble, but in hindsight burned too many matches early. The feed station was soon upon us – a frenzy of bikes, hands grabbing food and drink and in about 30 seconds you are on your way again. There were 3 main climbs today that just took the sting out of your legs. 20 mins of climbing with the gears in the granny ring and crawling up at 5kph. This however is better than walking which you try to avoid at all costs.
|1 min to go|
We passed the SXC boys at around the halfway mark. They were doing well and ended up only about a minute behind me and Buzz. There were a couple of very technical descents which are up to 3k long and around 25% gradient. It is very difficult to ride a bike down a 25% hill, where in some cases you cant see the ground as it is grassy doing 40k per hour. I had 2 “offs” and Buzz had 1. Luckily no injuries or bike damage, however the threat is always there.
|Me and Buzz coming into the first feed station|
I was cooked around the 70k mark, Buzz also looked like he was hurting. We grabbed all the food and drink we could at the last food station with David taking photos as he rode up to it. Rusty and Damo were about 15 mins behind us after suffering a puncture.
I couldn’t get to the finish quick enough. All I could see through the tunnel vision was Buzz’s rear wheel, as he had a second lease of life after throwing back an eshot from Isogenics……basically caffine!
|Rusty and Damo at the first feed station|
We all spent the afternoon recovering and having a massage. We sent David out of the compound where we are staying to get some bread and he went to an African supermarket at the wrong end of the street, not the “white one. He said he got some looks when he walked in. We are in a farming area about 200k out of Cape Town and you have to be careful walking around. I don’t think he will make that mistake again!
Tomorrow is 101k and a 3 out of 5 rating with 1000m less climbing than today. While that sounds easier, the weather forecast is for 10-15mm of rain in the morning.
|Me and Buzz coming into the 3rd Feed Station....we were cooked here|
Results wise, we are in 82nd place overall in a very hot field, and dropped to 13th in Masters, however only 2 minutes off top 10, so that is still a chance for us. The Hampton boys are are in 21st spot, but anything can happen over the week.
Off for some pasta and pizza tonight to carbo load up.
For tomorrow we do it all again!!!
|David with some plundered signs at our B&B|
|Damo and Rusty coming into the 3rd Station|