Rider Dining Marquee 29 March 2014
No surprises today, but a little bit of sadness as I realise it is the last “shower day” of the Epic. We had a steady stream of riders in from 12:00 until 17:00 and then it was time to prep for the dinner that evening. This time around, instead of having our riders at the dining marquee, we decided to host a party of Architects from Boogertman, Louis Carol and Kevin Engelbrecht Studio. Hansgrohe and its Team Riders handed over a cheque to Cape Leopard Trust (Helen Turnbull) for the amount of R 20 000. Hansgrohe is happy to support this worthy cause.
On another note, all the locations have been completely crawling with crickets – everywhere! We had loads of fun warding off the crickets as they flew into us all the time, whilst trying to shield our food. Besides this, I think we all had a good time and ran off into the rain as we were the last one to leave the marquee at 21:00 – hehe.
We can now hear from Robert Vogel on stage 6 of the ABSA Cape Epic.
“We were definitely feeling the last couple of days riding in our legs, but thanks to our brilliant Physio, Melanie, we seemed to find some new life in those pins of ours today. Amanda and I both know the Elgin Valley well and it really helped to know where we were going and what lay in wait around the corner. Today was going to be a rollercoaster ride. Up and down, on smooth and fun single track, with a bit of climbing thrown in for good measure – whop, whop, whop, Epic-style.
I had developed a bit of a bum sore which meant a visit to the Bum Clinic before the start. I wasn’t the only one in need of some TLC and once I was taped up, I had to literally run to get to the start chute in time.
We started at the back that wasn’t ideal, but Amanda had been ill overnight, so it was probably best to get rolling at a more sedate pace.
Our Mixed competition had other plans and were going out hard which necessitated some damage control. I left Amanda to ride at her pace and warm up and I rode ahead to keep tabs on the other 2 Mixed teams.
The route crossed Oak Valley farm, heading for Paul Cluver and then on to Houw Hoek Inn. The single tracks on the way are well known to us and settled in to a steady rhythm, keeping the other Mixed teams in sight.
We got to water point 1 quickly and decided to push on and not stop. We carried on along the old N2 road to a tunnel under the current N2, in order to get to the other side of the valley. The route took us through a pine forest up to the old missile testing station at Houwtec.
It’s a bit of a surreal place. Built in the middle of pristine fynbos on top of a hill, the buildings are scattered over a relatively large area, connected with wide tar roads. As we cycled past one of the buildings, I imagined the engineers flicking a switch and firing up a secretly built rocket engine.
We carried on along a contour jeep track, eventually dropping down to the valley floor, before climbing a steep hill up to water point 2.
One of the Mixed teams was still with us, but the steep hill gave us an advantage as were the better climbers and Amanda and I got a nice gap over a relatively short distance. A quick change of bottles and a wave to some familiar faces and we set off to climb even higher up the hill to eventually reach the Lebanon trail network. This was our first taste of a long single track section and we flew down the trails, before leveling out and getting to the second culvert under the N2 to take us back to Thandi and on to Paul Cluver and water point 3.
Approaching water point 3 , it was evident that there were a lot of spectators cheering on all the riders. Paul Cluver farm have build a “bike park” around their amphitheater with hanging bridges, berms and elevated tracks. It was amazing to ride into the amphitheater and be greeted and cheered by some many people. Another quick stop and we set off to tackle the last 25km home, back to base.
We rode some amazing ravine single track, up one side of the back and across to the other side. Almost like a skateboard half pipe. Brilliant! At this point we were caught by another Mixed team which were no real threat to our Category position, but we decided to keep them close, just to be safe. Once out of the single tracks , we climbed up a couple of steep “little” hills, heading back Oak Valley. More fast and flowing single track followed, before we were hit with another longish climb to the top of the farm, form where we ducked into another river single track, flying along, eager to get to the finish.
This time there were no more nasty surprises and we followed the single track all the way to the finish line where we were pipped to the post by the other Mixed team.
There is a lot of respect for each other when we ride out there (and we ride hard),but at the finish line it’s hugs and handshakes all round. With a couple of Woolies milkshakes downed, it off to the Hansgrohe ShowerZone to wash the dust off and begin the recovery part of the day.
Amanda and I can almost smell home now. We will ride safe and keep and eye on the competition, but take no unnecessary risks. The finish at Lourensford beckons.”