Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cape Epic Day One - Prologue... Good to be on the Bike!

I'm sitting in my little red tent in tent village, my new home for the next three evenings, snacking on nuts and chocolate and trying to stay hydrated until dinner in an hours time. I've just had a shower in the mobile shower trailer (which was like heaven on wheels after today) and am now not wearing any underwear (and enjoying it very much)... Very soon I will venture into the mess tent for dinner and then head off for a half hour massage before bed. Life on tour...

This morning was an early start. Our 27km, 900m of climbing time trial start time was 8.33am so we headed off from Gavin's at about half past six. The race village was a spectacular sight... Our race would start on stage down a time trial start ramp, there were tents and water stations set up, entertainment happening throughout the village and there were even live feeds coming back from on course video cameras and helicopters to display on large screens around the race village. It really is difficult to describe the scale of this event without actually being here.

After a warm up and a couple of nervous toilet stops, we made our way to the start chute where we were herded around for about 20mins until we were called into line for our start. As we climbed up onto the top of the start ramp, I still found it difficult to believe that we were finally here. For the time trial, teams were being set off at 25 second intervals, as opposed to the standard 30sec intervals (apparently over the course of the day, this saves 50 minutes!). As we were called up to the start line for our 25sec countdown, John leaned over and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek... Our time had come.

The commisaire counted us down... Five, four, three, two, one... GO! Off we went on the start of our first day of the Cape Epic. We caught a couple of the teams in front of us pretty quickly as we headed into our first climb. Bloody hell John is quick and I felt so slow in comparison to him to sttart with, but as we moved into our first piece of single track, I dropped the hammer and was pinning the trail at a pretty good pace. My strength on the singletrack and flat or moderate incline was really good, but I struggled in comparison to John on the steeper climbs. I got my first puncture not too long into the stage... At first, I wasn't too sure what was happening when my face and glasses got sprayed with something wet and not quite clear... I realised a few minutes later that it was tyre jizz... It must've sealed up ok because it didn't give me any more trouble for the rest of the stage.

As we got further into our ride, we started to figure out ways to utilise each other's strengths. I would sit in front and set the pace along the singletrack and flat to moderate sections, then on the climbs, John would come past and I would grab onto his pocket for a ride on the "elevator Johnny". I felt kinda bad doing this, but as John said "whatever gets us across the line the quickest!". John was also taking my bottle to carry on the climbs and I remember on one climb, when I had to run my bike up, John dropped his bike at the top and then came back down to run my bike up... We worked remarkably well as a team unit and it made me feel really good that there were strengths I could contribute, but that I was also able to swallow my pride and graciously accept John's help... After all, he is a much stronger rider than me. We kept picking up places as we rode... From memory, we only got passed by a couple of mens teams, so we knew we had made pretty good time relative to the other teams around us.

The riding was spectacular, and the vibe along the course was amazing, with spectators lining the course, cameramen and volunteers all cheering people on. It made me feel quite proud as we passed one of our check points and we heard the announcer call out "Team Mitre 10 Mega looking strong". Yeah!!!

Most of the climbs were managable, and provided spectacular vistas of the areas, but the pace was brutal, being such a short stage. It also began to get really hot as we ascended the last climb. We had a hilltop finish and that last climb was absolutely brutal. It climbed right to the finish line... We finished in 1 hour 52 minutes which put us in 13th place in the mixed category and 209th overall. 13th out of 60 international level teams was a pretty good result and it is also pretty exciting the prospect that we may be able to crack some top ten results during the course of the race.

After gathering our breath after the finish and taking in some of the views, we descended back into the race village, picked up some lunch, bummed around a bit then boarded buses for the trip to Robertson. It was a relief to put our incredibly heavy rider bags onto the bus and forget about them for the couple of hours trip through the middle of an amazing mountain range, which towered over the road we were travelling along.

Our new race village and home for the next three evenings is pretty cool. We have an area we can hang out in and watch TV (the chill tent), our little tent village, dinner hall, mechanical services, massage and medics (hoping I don't need to use that tent!).

My legs feel a bit used, but massage should alleviate that. I'm just really glad to have started and finished our first stage. We now have a better idea of where we sit in the field and what sort of terrain to expect. Tomorrows stage is 115km and 2300m of climbing. Time to rest up and get some sleep!


  1. great write-up about your first day! looking forward to reading how the remaining days go and treat you. Mike

  2. Great stuff, Megan! Nice to see you guys rolling at last. Keep hanging on to the Big Fella - he won't mind and it takes whatever it takes! Cheers, Oli