Saturday, 27 March 2010

TOBY - the rescue dog from the Peak District

We've met a load of people today doing great work all over the UK in the mountains working in the rescue services.
Hope you all got some bars if you came by the stand.

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Because it's there...

Kevin Shannon leaves tomorrow on a little jaunt - that's to say solo cycling round the world.
We'll be doing drops around the world for him.
Good luck Kevin!

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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!

YHA Rob and Anth - keepin' it real

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Sampling team in full swing.....

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Off stage action shots - Kevin Vermaak and Nele

Random Mule shots - Guns...


























































































































The first of our Mules comes in - Stage 7

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1.Fluckiger Bros 2. The Bulls 3. Team Merida Multivan with Jose Hermida

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Fluckiger brothers win Stage 7

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Fluckiger bros wash up

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Winter pudding weather Stage 7

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Urs with 8 stiches - Frischies injured(but happy) partner

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Friday, 26 March 2010

2 stages to go - Dan plays with the Mules in happy hour (Rudolf with the Crackberry)












































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OMG clouds

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The final few Stage 6

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'Outcast'

UCI rider Cornelious lost his teammate and is forced to wear the Outcast jersey
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Tough Puddings

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Come on and follow the Mule to stand TL120

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Mango Tango attacking on the last few bends into Oak Valley stage 6

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Mule girls are happy

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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.
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The first coff'

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Bar Mules

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Thursday, 25 March 2010

MuleBar showing at the Outdoor Tri-Live Show at the NEC - come 'n get it!

On from tomorrow and over the weekend.

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Marcel and Pau eye up the podium...

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The leaders after stage 5... Party party...

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He must be Fixed up this fella!

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The Army Mules pushing hard - smashed helmet and gravel rash..

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Let's get serious - the time trial

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