So… Day 6, Stage 5 is done and dusted… Literally.
At the rate this race is going, the soil conservation lobby group will have a case to make for land-grabbing : we are ‘stealing’ the Boland bit by bit.
By now the riders, the fan caravan and the crews have fallen into a routine of sorts. An event like this is all absorbing : wherever the people congregate, conversations are mostly about this race, previous Epics and other mountain bike related stuff.
One youngster who is not racing this year – he is here to support his girlfriend – said its far less stressful to race : being a spectator is a nerve wracking business. Especially for those with a little bit of inside knowledge – the people who know how fast something can go wrong – how quickly accidents can happen, and then it does not help that people waiting at the waterpoints see the constant procession of wounds, people collapsing from heat and exhaustion and all the mechanical mishaps. Worst of all, being a superstar – even a previous winner – does not mean that you somehow have extra protection.
Ester Suss and her partner (I think they’ve won the ladies race three or four times) had to abandon on day 2: severe upset stomachs, dehydration and heat stroke. In some bizarre way, every day is a new day and somehow every day they all start from scratch : if you’re strong, you’re strong – if your legs are ‘jelly’, you just have to find a way around it – sometimes it is just pure stubbornness – pure ‘won’t-quit power’ (its the pig-headed version of willpower!) that gets them through.
Just today one of the lady riders was sobbing like a baby at Waterpoint 3 : she had reached the end of her tether, the end of her energy and it was all just too much… But credit to her and her dad, after a little break, a cool wipe-down and drink, she found the ‘wont quit’ to finish the day.
Most wonderful thing about this race is the number of people who are doing it all for various charities: from JAG to BIG Tree and the Durbanville Childrens home to CHOC – the guys who do stuff for children with cancer. Pieter and Nick’s charity – the Christine Revell Children’s home – fund is getting along nicely: not sure of the final numbers yet, but its already way over their initial target: which is stunning – makes it all worth it!
Today’s calorie consumption was a relatively modest 3993 calories : so poor Pieter will only need to eat about 20 cheeseburgers to replenish. Thank goodness he does not make it all up out of cheeseburgers – at the moment both him and Nick are eating like horses : literally enough for 3 people : and of course beer and wine and milkshakes and cokes and Appletizer. Surprisingly, they don’t eat much sweets and chocolate – nuts are about as ‘junk-foody’ as it gets – unless an ice cream happens to be floating by of course – ice cream is not junk food, its a basic food group.
Since the Dawn Wing girls are so far ahead, chasing them is not even on the radar – they are lying fourth in the women’s race (they are performing like superstars!) the lads have adopted a new quarry – Michael Moll and Vanessa Hayward. Beating them is now the object of the game!
Just one final note about the Boland and the magnificent hospitality the farmers along the way have shown everyone : wow – we have a world class event here. Thank you everyone – this level of commitment cannot be faked or bought – you’ve got to have your heart in it.
Tomorrow’s stage is rumored to be a real monster. Mercifully it looks as if the weather is likely to be a bit more moderate – 28 instead of 32C, with a slight breeze from the sea (if everyone’s lucky), but the race profile looks like its going to be a challenge… Tomorrow is going to be a day for ‘vasbyt’.