Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cape Epic Day Two - Stage One... 114km of Brutality

Woken up by bagpipes at 5am, I clambered out of my tent after a very broken nights sleep. I was hoping that as the race went on and we rode more, I would be more tired and sleep a little more solidly. We shoved down a pretty average breakfast in the mess tent. My main concern was getting as much into me as I possibly could. I knew that as the week wore on, I would feel less and less like eating, so while my gut was still in business, I needed to make sure I ate as I could.

Todays stage was 114km and 2350m of climbing. We lined up in our allocated start pen at 7am. The start was fast. I struggled to stay on the back of the pack and as we moved off the road and onto dirt, I struggled to maintain the pace that John was asking of me. It was really frustrating for me, and I was pretty disappointed in myself to have to tell John that we were running too hot at a pace that I didn't think I could sustain. We backed off a bit, but in the end, there were obvious benefits to having hung on to the back of that pack... Ultimately, it may have been worth a good ten or fifteen minutes to us, but it meant that John had to tow me and that in itself would take it toll on John so we would have to make a call as to whether it was worth smashing ourselves that much once we saw the results for the day.

There were three main climbs today, each of them about 400m and each of them pretty steep. There was a lot of hike-a-bike, and I wasn't particularly suited to this with my short legs. Having said that, there didn't appearto be a lot of people either gaining or losing much time because it was just one long stream of ants trailing up the hillside. It became apparent today that my climbing legs weren't firing as I would have expected them to for all the training I had done. I was grovelling up everything, and whilst I had been incorporating as much climbing as possible into my schedule, I guess I just hadn't found a route around Palmerston North that could replicate something this brutal. There were big climbs around home, but nothing this steep and it showed. I was doing an ok job up the moderate climbs, but I lacked legs on the steep stuff. I was really angry with myself... Really f@#ked off, and I could tell John was, too, and I didn't blame him... How I could have overlooked that in my training, I'm unsure, but I had, and now I would have to suffer for it. Hopefully my climbing legs would find themselves over the course of the week. Some of the descending was mega sketchy, too... There was a lot of loose, dusty, off camber, rocky descending, which was fine if you were cautious, but had the potential to be very unforgiving if you made an error at speed. At least it kept things interesting though.

By the time we hit the third water point, we had 40km left to go and were starting to get into the heat of the day. The pro mens winner had completed the course already in 4hours 33minutes... That's an average speed of about 25km per hour! I had become very partial to the cups of coke at the water stations (those of you who know me would know that I never drink coke or caffeine, but races are always the exception), and the boiled and salted potatoes were also a favourite... That last 40km was fast. It was pretty flat with just a couple of smaller climbs, and I was able to sit behind John for some protection and we smashed back the flats at a really solid pace, picking up a few places in the process. The corners and any obstacles were tricky because I couldn't see a thing sitting behind John's huge frame, and it took me a little bit to get comfotable sitting so close to his wheel, but once I got it right, we werein business. In the last 10km, I grabbed on to John's pack and he towed me and we passed two of the mixed teams that were in front of us, picking up two places in our category. He really is a bloody machine, and I have no doubt that without John, I could have easily being out there for another hour. I have no idea how to show my gratitude to him. I'm going as hard as I can, but I wish I could give him more. We crossed the line absolutely smashed, grateful for the cups of water, coke and sports drink that were on offer, as well as the cold face towels.

The results came through and we had come in 12th place, and picked up one general classification place, too. I have no idea if we can sustain the pace we are doing for the rest of the week, but I guess we'll just see what it brings. It's hard work out there. Harder than I could describe... But I probably wouldn't have it any other way... We didn't come here for an easy time. We hit the showers and some food. Tent village looks like a laundromat, with towels and dirty riding clothes hanging all over everyones tents. Then I hit up the Absa chill tent for some blogging.

Dinner is served in an hour and then off to massage again... Tonight, I will try to remember to put underpants on before massage... This wiuld make it much more comfortable for both me and the masseuse!


  1. fantastic photos! you look a little shell shocked in the post race pic!
    hang in there - you'll have good days and bad days, stick to your game plan and continue to work to each others strengths. Mike

  2. Jeepers! Sounds like you did well to handle it so well. Keep it going, Megan!