Friday, 26 March 2010

Army Mules latest crashes!

The Cape Epic Stage 5 – The Crash Test Dummies. Today was almost a rest day for the athletes tackling this year's ABSA Cape Epic. The field would set off in reverse order on a short time trial stage, 28km with 860m of climbing based in the foothills around Worcester.Thankfully I woke up feeling like a human being for perhaps the first time this week, threw some more antibiotics down my throat followed by my first real food in 2 days. Completing the stage would not be an issue, however, the question yet to be answered was the speed at which I was able to ride today.Phil and I shot down the ramped start line at 10:08am and headed out onto the course with the aim of grabbing back some of the 50 places that we lost in the GC yesterday. I quickly realised that some of my strength had returned as we closed down on the riders who had set off 30 seconds before us. As anyone who knows Phil Marland is already aware, he is a machine on the bike, one of the ways that we have devised to minimise the impact of my reduced physical state is for him to ride alongside me on some of the climbs (where the terrain allows) and literally push me up the hill. This worked remarkably well, until Phil attempted to give me a high speed turbo boost that resulted in a loss of control and a serious face plant into the tarmac. I can genuinely say that Phil's helmet saved his life today. The high density foam was split apart the full length of the helmet yet within 2 minutes Phil was back on the bike. His main concern was not his head, but a couple of seriously bruised ribs from the impact of the crash and a lack of gear selection resulting from a bend rear drop out. We continued to work together round the course.........steering clear of any further attempts at pushing......and thankfully my legs held out. All was good for a while, until "crash test dummies episode 2", this time it was my turn. Towards the end of the stage we were held by marshals to allow outgoing riders to cross our lane. In what was a classic concertina effect, the riders in front of Phil hit the brakes, Phil hit his a fraction harder and I, flashing at the marshal for stopping us, hit them a little too hard and once again went over the handlebars is a slow motion comedy crash that seemed to please the crowd. I would like to say that was the end of our tumbles for the day........but no.......enter "crash test dummies episode 3", the action switches back to Phil. The final km of today's route re-traced yesterdays; specifically the corner where Phil hit glass and ripped his front tyre apart. Firstly he shot wide on the bend to avoid a repeat performance (running over the finish line should definitely be a once in an event occurrence), then while pushing hard to catch back up he slid out on the gravel of a banked right hand bend. Once again, Phil was straight back on the bike covered in blood, but powering up the final km trying to chase me down. For my part I was completely unaware of his second crash, I (wrongly) assumed that he was back on my wheel as I chewed the bars pushing hard for the line. It was not until the final few bends did I glance behind me and found Phil was not there, 20 seconds later he came round the bend looking a little irate as we crossed the line together. Only then did he get the chance to tell my about his crash and show me some pretty significant gravel rash to his right arm, shoulder, hip, knee and yet more bruising to the ribs. For the second day on the trot we hit the event hospital and thankfully Phil should be ok to ride tomorrow, provided that his ribs allow him breath ok. Gaz has a long night ahead to ensure that our bikes are also fit to hit the trails tomorrow on The Cape Epic's longest day, 123km and 2650m of climbing.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device
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