Part 2 of the Cape Epic Challenge with World Champion Tracy Moseley and Anka Martin racing the gruelling South African endurance event.
Tracy and Anka move up to 12th place in the ladies, not bad at all for two downhill riders in a field of xc and roadie whippets!
Come on girls, let’s get a top 10 finish!!!
Every morning it’s a 5 am start to have breakfast and get ready for a 7am departure…..not nice ! It’s still dark when you crawl out of your tent and find your bike in the biggest bike park you could imagined with 1200 bikes all racked up ! Standing on the start line for stage 2 watching the sun rise over the mountain we were about to climb was pretty amazing and seemed almost worth the early start ! They call the African sky the ‘big sky’ and indeed it’s pretty amazing the vastness and colours of the sunrise were beautiful !
Soon the beauty of the sunrise was entirely lost as we set off with a few hundred people and you could see nothing other than a dust trail ahead of you as far as you could see ! Sadly not being the fastest team out there meant we started pretty far back and this race seems to appeal to a lot of very fit people that ride the road most often, so they are fit but really don’t have great technical skills !! So sadly as soon as we hit the first singletrack climb we were just in a long queue of people just walking up what would have been a really fun technical singletrack climb ! I still managed to ride it all just at walking pace which was actually a pretty good work out for my balancing skills and slow speed climbing !!
Once we got over the mountain pass we then had 60km around a beautiful valley amongst orchards and forests, it was an amazing scenic ride. We then had to climb back over the mountain pass and I made sure I was going to enjoy the 7km descent so I had to pull off a few rude passing manoeuvres in the downhill but after 80km of suffering it was worth it !! It was my longest off road ride and the 104km stage took us 8 hours to finish with water stops and photos along the way !! Still a damn long day sat on a bike saddle !! By the time we are back at the village the pros have been back for about 3 hrs, all showered, fed and resting !! We then only have a few hours to get showered before dinner at 6pm and bed by 9pm ready for the next day !!
Stage 3 was an even longer stage 125km which would take us to the town of Worcester which would be our next campsite for the next 2 days. Again we had a pretty steady start queuing up the first singletrack climb, but then a really fun technical rocky and sandy descent where we passed so many teams ! We started seeing teams that we had not seen before so realised we were moving up the rankings !! Sadly not for long because as soon as we hit the next fireroad all the roadies came flying by again !! This is just such a bigger race than I imagined, the people that come out from all the little villages that we pass are amazing, school kids out cheering and dancing and old grannies and grandad’s having a picnic on the side of the road !! It’s such a cool atmosphere.
The scenery has been amazing and I have seen Baboons on day one and a zebra on day 4 so getting in some good wildlife along the way aswell !! It’s nice not taking this race seriously and trying to race every stage, not only I wouldn’t make it if I did, but it also gives you chance to enjoy the view on your surroundings, it’s an amazing opportunity to ride trails that would not normally be open to ride. At 125km this was a hell of a long day and by 77km I was pretty much ready to be done….but sadly we still had a long way to go ! Even Anka’s computer gave up at 100km…..sadly we couldn’t and it took us 8hr35min to get to the finish line..yet again breaking records for my longest day in the saddle !!
Stage 4 was thankfully a time trial day, they called it a ‘rest day’ but it was still 30km with some steep old climbs but it was nice to only be out for a short day 1hr55 and have the rest of the day to recover. We finished up 12th in the ladies category and are sitting in about 250th spot out of 600 teams so doing pretty well for to downhill girls !!
The next 2 days look terrible, a 143km and a 128km so think of me and my bottom sitting on that saddle for way too many hours !!