Saturday, 27 March 2010

Army Mule report - The Longest Day



So here we are, Stage 6 of this year’s ABSA Cape Epic. Today’s route is the longest single day of the event with 123km to be covered and a height of 2460m to be climbed, the majority of which happens after the 85km mark........shocker!!!

Phil started the day with a trip to the doc to have his gravel rash redressed. The dust, dirt and grime that riders build up during each stage is unbelievable so real precautions must be taken to reduce the risk of infection to any open wounds. The film crew obviously wanted to record all this for their program, I am pretty sure that Phil would have much rather made this particular trip alone, but the life of a film star in the making is full of ups and downs!

The first few km were classed as neutral as the peloton was shepherded out of the town and onto the dusty tracks that would make up the majority of today’s racing. I quickly discovered that pushing hard too early is a sure fire way to reinvigorate my stomach bug with cramps and several unscheduled toilet stops behind me I backed off the pace and settled into the stage.

After a fairly uneventful first 50km the climbing began, as did the sand! The course designer is universally known as Dr Evil.......today I understand why. Anyone back in the UK who wants to know how it feels to ride The Cape Epic, wait until the height of summer, wear 6 thermal jackets then head down to Cornwall, find the largest sand dune around and cycle up and down it for 7 hours! There you go, the Cape Epic experience right there in your own back yard! If you don’t fancy making that trip, trust me, it is brutal!

Another flat section took us to the big climb of the day a 10km climb on yet more loose sand and jeep tracks that finally flattened out at the 95km mark. From that point on the ride has to be one of the most memorable that I have ever had. Firstly a heart stopping descent on jeep tracks led us to a 20km section of predominantly single track that twisted its way through a forest. It was amazing how quickly I forgot both the 100km that had gone before and also my age! Instantly I was a teenager tearing around in the trees, limitless energy and legs like pistons (ok so that part still belonged to a 40 year old) as we thrashed our way along the single-track twisting both out bikes and bodies around the trees.

It was almost a shame that the stage had to finish. As I crossed the line I definitely had the biggest grin that I’ve had all week and it wasn’t until I tried to stand up in the shower queue that I realised very quickly that this 40 year old body had just covered 123km of seriously challenging terrain, but also has ticked off Stage 6.........2 more to go!

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