Sunday, 30 March 2014

Stage 6....the next to last

riding amongst the treetops!!
This was the last morning we had to get up at 5am for what has been the ritual for the week.  Get up, dress in our race kit and jump in the van and head to the race village.  It is interesting to see how the mood has quietened in the van as the week goes on.  Last Sunday, we were all excited, chatting amongst ourselves as David (the designated van driver) navigates us from where ever we are staying to the race.   Now, we pile in
Team Fixed Wheel getting ready for the day ahead
 the van at 5;15-5;30am and there isn’t a word spoken.  Everyone is wondering how they are going to get through the day, and are thinking about the challenge of that days stage.  The drivers here in South Africa are crazy, and there doesn’t appear to be much adherence to the road rules or personal safety.  They overtake where they want, and when they want.  It is more dangerous driving to the race, than racing it!!

We hit the breakfast tent, a huge tent that seats about 1000 people and we eat till we are full.  David has a liking for the porridge, He polishes off two or 3 bowls every day! Then we grab the bikes and get into the start chute. 
The Chopper is never far away- It screams over the
top of all the riders
We have about 30 minutes of nervous wait time while the announcers introduce the top teams, made up of World Champs, Olympic Champs, and various professionals.  They have many categories, like open, elite, masters(which we are in), super masters (both riders must be over 50), womens, and mixed. I think Mixed is the hardest as they have a male and female rider and the female is normally riding on the limit the whole time, and then the male has to be strong enough to ride himself as well as push the female up the hill if she is falling off the pace: Very Very tough.

While in the start chute, they crank up the music. The songs they played in 2012, are indelibly etched into my mind, so when ever I hear Titanium or Adele now, it takes me back to being at that race. This year it will be ‘Happy” by Pharrel Williams.  There is also a local African character who runs between the races, putting a 
This fellow was very popular for his good luck rituals he put
on all the riders
good luck charm in his local language to the racers.  He is very popular amongst the riders.
Today was a shorter stage, 85k’s and 1800m of climbing, much of it on flowing single track. The start was crazy as usual as the pro’s wanted to get to the single track first, so the field was stretched from the gun.  We got an average start. Buzz finds it hard to go from the gun and he needs time to warm up. However we both back off for each other and ride together the whole race, which is one of the main reasons that the good teams do well.  As we hit the first hill of the day, it was my turn to call the pace down. All week my right knee had been blowing up and the pain was getting more and more prominent.  Every pedal stroke was painful. I was now riding with the knee heavily strapped. I was worried it was going to give way.  I couldn’t put load on it which is hard in a race like this with all the climbing and acceleration required.   Caryn, our physio said it was the meniscus…..not good.  However after about 20k it started to warm up and became less of an issue.  Buzz was riding strongly and I was hanging on the back, as we overtook and were overtaken by many teams. 

Very strange sensation riding over the top of the crowd!
Damo and Wayne from SXC Racing were riding as individual riders and were both enjoying the high percentage of single track that made up the stage today. Both ended up with some significant times. Well done to both.  Wayne told me after the race, that his partner Brian, hadn’t broken a collarbone as first thought.   He had a couple of days in
me catching up with Wayne from SXC racing to see
how Brian was
 hospital as a large piece of shale rock had lodged itself into his elbow and it required surgery to remove it.  We wish Brian all the best.

The highlight of today’s stage was two things.  The first is the flowing single track, both up and downhill that Buzz and I both enjoy zipping through.  The second is the specially built mountainbike park that the race went through.  It had suspension bridges and ramps to ride up and down.  Great Fun!! David, our trip photographer was there snapping off shots.  He is enjoying that camera!!

Results wise, we had another solid ride today and were 11th in Masters and 84th overall.  On the GC we are also 84th overall and 13th in 
Fixed Wheel coming to the finish line
Masters, 9 minutes off a top 10 result.  In 34 hours of riding, it isn’t a big margin, however tomorrow is a short stage of 65k and the other teams will be fiercely defending their spots and all the teams are watching each other. We start in the beautiful ElginValley and ride over the ridge line back towards Cape Town and finish the race a Lourensford.

While we are racing tomorrow, David is riding a 51k mtb race that 
The big guns are coming out to race tomorrow!! Race Favourite D Foster with
Mechanic Rusty Edgar preparing their weapon of choice -
An SWorks Epic 29er.....
starts and finishes at the finish so he can have a little Cape Epic experience for himself!

I hope my knee doesn’t blow out.  It has to do 65 more K’s then it can have a rest!!
Sunset from our B&B in Gordons Bay

The Boys in the Start Chute

Buzz always knows where David is with the camera.
This was as we came into the first water point today

A great MTB park with all sorts of riding challenges. Here is Damo
coming over the suspension bridge

Team Fixed Wheel racing coming into the MTB Park

Damo coming into the Finish

Catching up with Christelle and her sister Karyn after the race
Dad was pretty happy to see young Bo after a week.Maybe
a Father/Son pairing in a few years?

Taking the bikes to the mechanics after the race

tough place we are staying at here a Gordons Bay!
The Crosby/Van Niekirk clan

David making himself at home at one of the stands in the race village

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