The professional start for the STAGE 5 TT made even the ‘fish ‘n chips’ cyclists exit the ramp in true Lance Armstrong fashion. The views we experieced on this day were some of the best we got to experience during the entire Epic, as the 27km snaked itself 860m upwards behind Worcester. Not having a seeding, I had been placed well at the front of the field for the reverse order start, and by 9:15am I was ready to put my feet up and enjoy a full days re-fuelling and relaxing.
Stage 6 was now the beginning of the count-down to the end, but this was the furthest I had ever ridden and 6h02, the longest day in the saddle. The undulating route from Worcester to Oak Valley in Elgin Apple country, as shown in the riders info booklet, was very deceiving as some of the climbs reached 26%- honest leg-burning efforts needed.
Local Apple Farm Labourers giving their all….
Waking up on day 7, the dust had been settled by some night-time showers and although the end was close, Dr Evil (the route master) had no intentions of easing up on the well-worked over 447 remaining official teams, (600 teams to start).
Each day melted into the next, so much so, that this was life and the outside world didn’t exist.
Having travelled on the N2 highway past Botrivier a thousand times enroute to Plett, it was refreshing to arrive at this quaint little dorp via the ‘back roads’. The journey back was highlighted by the loose rock and sandy ascent up Dassenberg, where even the pros were downsized to portage.
The slower more rugged the going, somehow was to my advantage….
Finishing with awesome singletrack in Lebanon against the majestic Hottentots Holland mountains evaporated the ‘tired from the legs. I couldn’t complain having a ‘snake bite’ on my rear wheel, 3km’s from the end as this was my first bike admin of the entire race. All means of inflating the tyre failed ( later found out that the rear rim had split) and so continued on with a pap wheel.
While resting up in my room at the Houw Hoek Inn, after 5h28 saddle time.I received an sms from good friend, Iain Don-Wauschope: “You buggers, you beat us by a minute today.” My reply- “1minute, 1second… A win’s a win. Make you a deal, winner takes all tomorrow.”
Iain- “GAME ON”.
Finishing with Ferdi and Iain on Stage 3
With our ego at stake, Hennie and I charged off from the start of the final Stage 8, target locked on Iain and Ferdi, who had started a batch ahead of us. With having only 65km to work with, we were lucky to track them down early and scuttle past them on a big climb. A compulsory 2km portage up and over the ancient Voortrekker wagon track was to my liking, felt like the good ol’ adventure racing days. From there you could smell the stable doors. Our 46th place finish was the ‘cherry on top’, on what was an exceptional 8 day Mountain Biking experience.
Great experience – but happy its over.
52% of Cape Epic Riders voted Burry & Christoff to win – they settled for second. Interesting fact – Bulls Team didn’t win a Stage but won overall, just shows in endurance racing – “Steady wins the Game”
Winning Sisters from Denmark – dominated the Woman’s racing
This Saturday 10th the ‘Change a life’ athletes will be charging up ‘n down, in ‘n around the Valley of a Thousand Hills, showcasing their talents- cycling, paddling, running- to the rest of the world. CNN are coming to film “A Day in the Life of the ‘Change a life’ Athletes”. CNN crew will be staying two nights in the Valley proper, to experience the real thing. They are wanting to profile an individual: from family, getting up in the morning, training, to going to bed at night.
A SUNDAY DRIVE….
Knowing during the easter weekend, my Academy training was in the capable hands of my wingman, Lucas, I disappeared to the Drakensberg to stay in a quaint cottage nestled in the mountains of the Umzinkulu river source. Couldn’t resist a trip into the mountains in Lesotho.
Callum and I doing some altitude training….