Greeting from south africa. With pleasure I made the loooong trip here once again for the 2009 cape epic.
After the great experience I had at the epic last year (yes one year is long enough to forget all the pain and suffering and only the good memories remain) I really hoped to go back. So this winter when I received an invitation from nico pfitzenmeyer (one half of last years winning mixed team) to be his partner in the race, with the support of adidas and the big tree foundation, I immediately accepted. And thus began the planning process and...training!
Last year I also arrived in south africa well before the race start to get over the jet lag, recover from the long trip and get acclimatized to the heat. From 2 degrees, to 40 in 30 hours of travel.
Landing in cape town is always a fabulous feeling after the winter, the warm air, the sun, the beautiful scenery.
The race route has changed dramatically this year starting in cape town with the prologue on the lower slopes of table mountain, and not in kynsna, 600km away. So because of this and having the opportunity to stay with my teamate in stellenbosch, I decided to come early to have 10 days to train here and get some sun.
From the moment I got off the plane we have been quite busy just dealing with our equipement, organization of logistics and well quite a bit of socializing too. We have driven to cape town a few times to meet groups for riding and training on the prologue course. Cape town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I can also say it has some pretty darn good mtn biking trails too.
A few days ago we rode from stellenbosch (think napa valley) to the sea 30 km away. Then along the coastal hwy. Wow, that was the most beautiful coastal hwy I've ever ridden in all my travels. Great scenery and also lots of wild life in the ocean and on land. Hard not to smile when you see the baboon adults on the side of the road carrying the babies on their backs.
The race this year is a different concept from all the previous years when it was a point to point route of close to 1000km. This years route is shorter, 700km over 8 days, no longer going in a straight line to the final stage, but promises to be more technical in nature. I,m pretty excited about that, though I had no complaints about last years route either. Ok so its quite a few less kms, but with much slower average speeds it is still a long week on the bike.
We just finished up with the prologues in cape town (more on that later), and tomorrow starts the first of the 7 long days. Its going to actually be a releif to start the stage tomorrow as tomorrow night we will finally be in the race camp. The past 3 days have entailed a lot of moving and repacking. 3 different host houses in 3 nights. Though our hosts have been absolutely wonderful and very generous to us with some very delicious dinners and comfy beds. Still with lots on our minds to get ready sleep has not been so easy. Thus our looking forward to the simple camp life tomorrow night.
I wanted to explain about our team name and what the big tree foundation is, which ill do in my next report. I need to hit the hay asap.
The prologue today was pretty hard physically, though quite straight forward. Minus of course getting sent off course by a marshal once and all the traffic on the few single track sections. We knew the course pretty well, though the scenery had changed quite a bit after the cape town fires last week. Still the race went off as planned thanks to the efforts of the fire fighters and race organization.
Our 748 am start time seemed a tad early for my liking, but nonetheless it was nice to ride in the morning cool just as the sun was coming up on to the city scape. Quite a majestic view we had from our vantage point racing on table mtn today. I have to hand it to the organizers, they pulled off a pretty cool show managing to hold such a stage on the lower slopes of the iconic mountian.
Being a pretty new partnership I have to say today was a genuine test of our ability to ride together. I,d give us an A and see A+ days from here on out.
We had the benefit of starting last of the mixed teams and so after 1/3 way when we had passed or caught the 3 strongest teams we were really able to relax and ride safe the rest of the way. And that was a big advantage. The longest descent was certainly high speed with rocky loose corners.
So is tomorrow 111km, the longest hardest stage on paper. Looks like a beautiful course from the seaside, up and over 2 big passes. Hope we feel strong and get to enjoy a clean hard fight with the other mixed team on this spectacular route.