Woke up sometime around 4am and it really sounded as if it was raining… Or was it?
A gently sprinkling in the early hours of the morning settled the dust, freshened up the vegetation and put a sharp nip in the air of the early morning: delicious weather for cycling.
The course designers promised a tough day – and that it certainly was – but it was not one of the true monsters with an evil twist in the tail – just great mountain biking.
The cool edge stayed on the day – what a pleasure after the heat of the previous five days.
Near the last water point Pieter had a heavy fall – one of those that happened because he was going too slowly: not enough momentum, his wheel dug in and he landed on his head, scraping his arm, cutting his cheek (on the inside), bumping his knee and adding a few more bruises.
Nick by comparison has a few scratches: he must be the only person in the race who looks that unscathed – several of the girls have more scabs than skin and even serious sporting personages like Tiaan Strauss needed 41 stitches in his calf. Don’t even want to know what happened to him. He just pitched up at the last water point covered in blood. Sadly Henry Fagan broke his wrist today. He is such a determined person, chances are he will get back on that bike tomorrow morning and ride the final stage.
The fan caravan who are veterans of previous years have been looking forward to the days in the Boland with mixed feelings: sure, we are that much closer to home, that much closer to the end of the race, but for the Fan caravan life gets exponentially more difficult. Traffic jams and badly planned spectator points are just some of the niggles: this morning there was another cycle race and a ‘run’ that intersected the route to one of the spectator points and provincial traffic dpt simply closed the road : a 6km trip took just over an hour : worse than rush hour traffic in Cape Town!
Also the various groups start running into each other and falling over each other… Not pleasant. The celebrities and ‘WAGS’ of the pro’s and racing snakes have absolutely no interest in mixing it with lesser mortals. The A+ personality types of their husbands/boyfriends must rub off or something… Its a bit like being in Plett at Christmas: when a big group of entitled people with high demands and ‘expectations’ converge on one point, it gets interesting, especially when that space is already occupied by ‘the unworthy’.
On the other hand, the stops of the last two days have gone though some of the most beautiful wineries in the Boland. Thelema: the last water point of today must be one of the most glorious pieces of real estate on the entire planet. What a rare privilege to be able to hang out there for a bit and enjoy their splendid trees and vineyards and rows of purple Irises.
Pieter’s calorie consumption today was a whisker over 5700. He is still eating like a horse: its going to take some serious discipline to re- train his system to want less food. Either way, today they still have to eat for tomorrow – its not going to be a gentle stroll to Lourensford.
And the Dawn Wing Girls? Today, the lads overtook them on the last stage and crossed the finish line well ahead of them. Some people start going backwards after the third and fourth day – other gain strength – and then its all in the strategy after that (but that’s a very long story!).
Unfortunately in overall ranking they are so far ahead the lads are unlikely to mention the gap in polite conversation, but there was a great deal of satisfaction in overtaking them. Let’s celebrate that victory!
Yesterday’s quarry (Michael Mol and Vanessa Hayward) was roasted and toasted before the first half of the stage today… They came in a good half hour after the lads.
Right now there is a nippy nasty wind out. Can only hope its going to calm down by tomorrow morning.
Special mention of the day has to go to Team Fat Bob. They were recently interviewed on radio and the interviewer asked them where the name ‘Fat Bob’ came from. Apparently their number one fan (and chief sponsor) is a penniless teacher in England who always tells them:”don’t worry what things cost”, “just work on how you’re going to pay for it!” Wise words… Either way, this is their tenth Cape Epic.
So, tomorrow is the last stage of the last day… Will be sure to post a ‘before and after’ of the lads. Bets: Nick will look much the same, but Pieter’s going to have some bruises and scrapes to show.