Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cape Epic Day 3 - Stage 2... A Top 10 Finish and a Spectacular Crash

It took me a while to find the medics tent at the end of todays stage... I hadn't really paid any attention to where it was because I was hoping I wouldn't need it. The day started off quite well. Moving up one place yesterday meant that we moved up to start C, so we were in a good position to jump straight in with the fast bunch off the line, instead of having to bridge the gap like yesterday. The first 20km were fast in with the bunch, and I felt pretty good. John mentioned a couple of tikmes how well I was riding today, which really meant a lot to me. Todays stage suited us really well... 122km and 1650m of climbing meant that there were no huge hills, and a lot of rolling terrain, which I had been really strong on, and today was no exception. We were absolutely blasting along, smashing out our first 40km in well under two hours. As with yesterday, there were lots of locals and their kids lining the route along the way, cheering us on and slapping out hands as we walked past. It's such an amazing atmosphere out on course.

At about the 35km mark, just before our first water station, I was holding on to John's bag taking a ride on the John Train. As we drew onto the back of one of the bunches, I thought John was goiing to pull out and go around them, but he had actually intended for me to latch onto the back of the bunch as he rolled through. The momentary lapse in communication meant that my front wheel connected with John's pedal (at least that's what I think happened) and we both went down like a sack of horse manure. We were travelling along a gravel road at about 35km an hour, so needless to say, there was a decent amount of carnage. Having said that, we were lucky we rode away from it... It could have been much worse. I took a moment to compose myself. I was surprised everything seemed ok apart from gravel rash and bruises, and as for my bike, the majority of the brunt was borne by my nice new carbon bar ends. I didn't spend too much time assessing the damage... To be honest, I didn't want to know. That could wait for the finish line.

We were told later that it was a spectacular crash, but we got back on our bikes. I think the adrenalin was pumping pretty hard because we got to the top of the hill and I said to John "ok, let's forget about that and let's do this". I actually felt pretty good. The first 90km went pretty quickly, but the pace was, once again, pretty brutal. Both of us knew today was our best chance at a top ten finish. I was on the rivet the whole time, and that made it pretty hard for me to get a hand off the bars for food or drink. There was no way I was drinking enough... The last 30km for the day from. The drink station to the finish line were the hardest. I was running on empty and really struggling to stay on, plus my leg was bothering me from the fall. About 10km from the finish line, we passed one of the other mixed teams. We knew they were climbing better than me, so wehad to smash it on the flats to stay ahead. The last part of the stage just kept throwing these nasty little pinchy climbs at us... Not big enough to register much on the course profile, but enough to cause some pain and make us a bit nervous about how close the other team was. It was such a relief to see the 5km marker when we hit sealed road again.

We held the other team off to take 10th place in the mixed category for the day. We smashed out 122km of mountain biking in about 5 hours 50 minutes, which is an average speed of over 20km per hour! YEAH!!! We are both pretty smashed, though. I had a few tears in my eyes at the finish. I don't think I have ever pushed myself that hard before, and I was really grateful that John pushed me. I felt like I rode really well today, but I really need to sort out my eating and drinking. Tomorrow is our longest stage at 147km and 3100m of climbing, which is going to be no walk in the park and hydration and nutrition will be paramount to finishing the stage, and that's even before we think about our placing.

I hit up the shower to check on my injuries, and I did a pretty good job of it. I have gravel rash from my left knee down my leg and there's going to be a good bruise there, gravel rash on my elbow and the back of my shoulder, a lovely big haematoma on my left hip and a smaller one on my rib. I have a slightly torn jersey and shorts and my new Easton Carbon EC90 bar ends have been chewed up really well, too. I gave it a good painful scrub in the shower to clean it out, then hit up the medic to get some patches and sympathy and maybe a can of harden-up (but they had run out). I feel ok, but it's going to be sore to sleep on and sore to ride on at the start tomorrow, but we carry on regardless because that's what we came here for. I feel privaledged that I have left a piece of myself on the road here in South Africa... A decent amount of my skin and blood is out there somewhere!

So now I'm chilling in the Absa lounge. Free drinks and icy poles on offer, laundry done and a massage and dinner on the way soon. I'm looking forward to getting tomorrows stage out of the way because it's going to be a really hard day in the saddle... And will also mean we are half way through. I am feeling pretty smashed after today. They are big, long, hard stages and there is no rest and it hurts the whole way. Enough to make a hard woman cry...

1 comment:

  1. Kia kaha, Megan. Heal fast and keep up the good work. x