Cape Epic Race Report – Stage 2

Keep an eye on www.fullsus.co.za for daily Cape Epic updates from our eyes and legs in the pack, regular Full Sus contributor Kate Slegrova and Full Sus newbie Rens Rezelman of the Nguni Bulls team.

Stage 2:

103km & 1 500m of climbing.

Stage two was meant to be a ‘rest’ day of smooth, fast riding according to race director, Kati Csak, but a cut-off low put pay to any thoughts of an easy day on the bike. Riders awoke to heavy rains falling on their tents on Monday night and Tuesday morning dawned on a sea of mud in the Breëde River Valley.

 Stage 2

Kate Slegrova – rider number 53-2:

Team: Itec/BTT Loulé/BPI. Team-mate: Celina Carpinteiro

Follow Kate’s live ABSA Cape Epic Tracker here or on Twitter @KateSlegrova

Looking at the profile this should have been an easier and faster stage. But not after it rained whole night.

We were lucky to have slept at my friends’ place in Robertson, so we had a good sleep in bed and we arrived dry and early for breakfast. But we couldn’t stay dry for long. Standing at the start chute we were soaked quickly. All the rain jackets could do was keep us warm, at least. After arriving a bit late on Stage one, we came early enough to be at the front of the D chute ready to chase the C riders.

It was mud right from the start and pretty much all the way. My legs were not quite there, but luckily they got better after first hour. We went up and down a bit mostly on dual track and got to first water point, happy, without any mechanicals. I was very happy to see bananas and banana bread, both of which weren’t at the water points the day before. We lubed our chains and off we went towards McGregor.

There were few shortish climbs and some single track that was actually rideable and I even had fun. My practice of mud riding during the Cape Pioneer Treck definitely paid off. Soon enough we were in McGregor and were welcomed by lot of spectators cheering us on. The atmosphere was great. We washed our bikes a bit, to try to get rid of the mud from our gears, which were getting harder to change, but were still working.

After McGregor there were a few longer climbs and I was starting to feel tired. My partner, Celina kept calling: “Come on Kate! Pedal down the hills and stop braking!”

She gave me her pocket to hold on to up a few hills as my pace was getting slower towards the end of the stage.

We were happy to finish in 6 hours and 16 minutes, meaning we were the 8th ladies team to finish. This time we took pictures on the finish line with our faces covered in mud before taking on the marathon of washing and getting the mud off our kit. We moved up to 10th place in overall.

Stage three on Wednesday is a long stage of 134km and the camp is moving the Greyton. I’m looking forward to the Oaks Estate in Greyton! The weather should be clearing up and hopefully the track will dry up too. Also I’m hoping my legs will keep up with Celina’s hard pace and we won’t have any mechanicals.

Rens Rezelman – rider number 144-2:

Team: Nguni Bulls. Team-mate: Andrew Koen (AKA Rocky)

Follow Rens’s live ABSA Cape Epic Tracker here.

Hmmmm. Now that was a kick in the nuts. Mud from the word go. And then some. Rocky and I were really hammering it today and then at 38km the free hub broke. That means you can’t pedal the bike. At all. You’re dead in the water. Shaun then came past as Rocky was running his bike along and we asked that he get a message through to Amanda to get the spare wheel ready.

But you’re not allowed outside assistance. So we had to ask race organisers about the rules. Eventually I could get the wheel from the mechanics. I strapped the wheel to my Camelbak and rode against the ride to Rocky and his buggered bike. This all took about 45 minutes, plus. So again we lost valuable time and positions. But we finished despite the setback and will fight another day tomorrow.

Right. So Stage one was tough. Yesterday was even tougher, with mechanical issues. And now for the clincher: we got a one hour penalty for the wheel replacement debacle. Time Separation. We thought everything was cleared with the race commissar but there are further issues.

We can protest as some monetary cost, but have decided to suck it up because we don’t have the names of the officials we spoke to.

Talk about a tough Epic to date! Forget the riding: try bike issues and the Epic officialdom! We shall persevere and show some Nguni Bull fighting spirit.

Stage 3 pre-race:

The longest day distance wise awaits us: a 134km trek to Greyton. It doesn’t hold any guarantees at being any easier. It’s our third centuary in a row (112, 103 and now 134km) so this is where endurance training is so important. As for the Nguni Bulls… well we refuse to have a victim mentality. Despite the mechanicals and the time penalty we will treat the day with the respect it deserves and get on with it. We have been relegated to Group E… not great as today is the one day Rocky and I could’ve switched on the diesel engine and purred along in a fast bunch. But the truth is there anen’t too many racing snakes in Group E. So we’ll need to set the pace and claw our way back to a higher group. We’re stilling the top 100 in the masters’ category…

Everyone’s eyes took a beating yesterday. You can’t wear glasses as they get closed up too quickly so we had chunks of mud flung into our eyes throughout the day. Today we all look seriously hung-over with our bloodshot eyes!

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