Anni Bodington At ABSA Cape Epic 2012 Day 1 of the ABSA Cape Epic 2012 The untamed African Mountain Bike race and considered the Tour de France of mountain biking. 8 days, 781 km, 16300 m of climbing and 1200 riders, 600 teams and 43 countries participating countries. Today, the 25 March 2012 is the prologue to the ABSA Cape Epic, essentially a time trial for seeding for the next 7 stages which is taking place at Meerendal wine estate in the Durbanville wine valley. The atmosphere is electric and one can taste the nervous tension. The world’s best riders race against the clock for their starting positions and the first ever hilltop finish. Team TESA 2012 are Riders; 333-1 Trevor Bodington and 333-2 Hentus Baard. Trevor partners with Hentus for the first time. With 16 to 20 hours on the bike per week, 9 months and a non-existent December / January holiday due to training, the Team TESA are as ready as they can be. But to give you an indication of just how ready our riders are, Trevor rides with a broken hand and right hand forefinger missing a tip which he stuck in the brake gear yesterday! Hentus has recently spent 3 weeks in Italy on holiday and 3 weeks off the bike due to bronchitis. He just wants to thank his Grandmother, Mother, Publicist…….! Hentus has no aches and pains today and is ready to rock and roll. We are WELL prepared! The support team this year consists of Anni as Journo, Blogger and Photographer, Larne as Nutritionist and Chief of Logistics, Maddy as Clothes Mechanic and back up photographer and Candy as the PRO Photographer. Trevor is fired up, cracking jokes and sipping groovie juice of a variety of makes, colours and textures. The first words out of his mouth at 6 am this morning were very vocal and related to nerves. He is also jabbering about coming in today in one piece, which is a throw back to Dirk Fyfe, his partner in 2011, falling in the prologue last year. Hentus is hoping for the best and wants to take it easy. This is his first EPIC. This blog will also keep a close eye on Team Hops, Chris and Nicholas Hops from Keurbooms Lagoon who are supporting the Red Cross Childrens’ Hospital. Website to follow tomorrow. Nic is a cancer survivor and at 21 years of age, plans on taking the EPIC by storm. His dad Chris is his team mate – watch out for this father- son team. For EPIC supporters, we will post a rule every day so that you can get a really good feel of how tough this race is. Rule of the day: No outside assistance is allowed. Even holding a bike while the rider pumps a tyre can earn them a penalty or disqualification. As a spectator, you may not push a rider or give them a sandwich. A good supporter may only cheer. As per last year, we will also follow the progress of Joel Stransky, who this writer hears via the cycling grapevine, is really fired up this year. For motor sport enthusiasts, I am very excited to inform you that Alain Prost is participating this year. But for the record, apart from Team TESA, we are supporting the PRO rider team of 360 Life, Kevin Evans and David George, who this year will surely take the EPIC gold. And they are off, 08h15 am, 27 km and 900 m of climb. The supporters club have a long steep climb to the finish line . Was supposed to send this before they finished but there was no signal at the top where the finish was. The guys came in strong in 1 hr 48 mins. Hentus barely broke a sweat but had 2 falls. Trevor gave it a huge push, was a bit buggered but has recovered well. SuperSport coverage today is at 22h00 on SuperSport 2. Until tomorrow. Will update you on group starts and how our boys fared in the update then. EPIC Day 2 Stage 1 Forgive the typo’s, grammatical errors and repetitions yesterday. Climbing to that finish (not a gentle stroll I might tell you) whilst blogging on an iPad takes massive co-ordination from this dyslexic writer. There is a correction too. There are actually 46 countries partaking, not 43! Results for the prologue came in after the seeded riders completed the Prologue yesterday with Team TESA placed 128 in the men’s category with a time of 1 h 48.14 resulting in them starting Stage 1 in Group C. General category positioning was 187. 360 Life, Kevin Evans and David George came in second with a time of 1 h 12.05, which was 13 seconds behind Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser of 361 Songo Specialized, last years’ winners. We had a chat to Kevin and David last night. Those guys are tiny. I think they used a special lens in The Epic Tale to make them look bigger. PS if you haven’t seen the Epic Tale yet, it’s being flighted on DSTV at the moment and is so worth a watch. It was a long trek from Meerendal in the Durbanville Hills to Robertson, the worlds’ longest wine route, yesterday afternoon. Traffic was back to back with camper vans and bike trailers and we only arrived at 5.30pm. It was a rush to set up the camper van and get the guys into dinner, prize giving and rider brief by 18h00. We are camping alongside the 2 Bulls teams – pro riders from Germany and Switzerland, not Pretoria! The tented village You will be amazed at the things you hear in the race village. One seeded rider was overheard saying that another team had the benefit yesterday of the wind created by the media chopper blades ‘pushing’ them from behind….?! Chris and Nicholas Hops from Team HopsSquared must be the tallest riders in the Epic this year. Chris and Nic are riding for charity and proceeds will go to the Red Cross Children’ Hospital and I encourage you to make a contribution for their efforts. Visit Nic’s website on www.ridingfortheredcross.com. Of interest is their time yesterday which was only 12 minutes later than the TESA boys and they placed 213, proving how competitive and close the riders in this time grouping of the men’s category are. Joel Stransky riding for the ABSA Mountain Ghosts, was placed 234 with a time of 2h03 – you should know by now Joel’s my man. EPIC Rule of the day: gone are the days when one team member could hook elastic to the bike of the weaker partner and pull them along. Way too dangerous….but a good team mate sits in front and lets his partner slip-stream him. Back to today. It was another early start, with Hentus up and about early, finishing breakfast before 6.15 am. Trevor was a bit slower but the nerves were settled and both were chirpy and full of spirit. Hentus is feeling good, and believes the first 20 km’s is going to separate the men from the boys. He is confident that Team TESA is Going to SMOKE it today and that they are definitely men – I can attest to that taking our current living situation into account! Trevor wanted to remind Hentus that he is the old man in the team and that a certain amount of respect for this simple fact would be nice – I believe he may be hinting that the pace yesterday was rather hectic….. Start stage 1 – Day 2 Dr Evil is setting the tone from the start with a 115 km and 2350M climb today. The first 20 km apparently are going to be killer. We watched from the spectator B point which is 78 km’s into the race, and our boys came in looking very strong 3h15 from the start. The temperature is an extreme 34 degrees and perceived temps on the bike of over 40. Not knowing much about the technicalities, my heart was racing to see them looking so good but according to the commentators, bikers heart rates are around 150 after the massive climb they gave just had. Second spectator point 78km At the finish: Yellow jerseys for Stage 1 went to Burry Stander and Christof Sauser, Team 361 Songo Specialized in just over 4h33, which will give them huge UCI points in an Olympic year. Kevin and David of 360 Life experienced mechanical problems and came in with 4h57, experiencing a serious setback. The majority of riders had still not crossed the line at 5 hours and the first Masters Team came in at 5hrs. Team TESA finished in 6h35.44, placed 108 in the men’s category and 161 in the General category. Hentus looks very strong but said it was tough. Trevor cramped quite a bit today – he has recently changed his race food so maybe we will go back to Larne’s muffins. Overall, a great day in the saddle – well done guys. They are really filthy, needing a shower and massage, which they will do as soon as the bikes have been dropped at the mechanic. End of day 2 Naturally, if you are receiving EPIC tweets and following on Facebook, you will know most of the above. If you are a technophobe, see tomorrow’s blog, which is essentially to track the tenacity and never say die of the TESA boys. Also, for the bike fundi’s, I don’t know much about MBiking so you will forgive my observations, as they are essentially those and from my perspective. Until tomorrow. http://www.cape-epic.com/content.php?page_id=226&title=/2012_TV_Schedules/ EPIC day 3 Stage 2 The temperature is cooler today with a light mist (almost drizzle) at the start which is burning off as the day progresses. This is most welcome after yesterday’s scorcher which resulted in an overworked medical tent with riders suffering from heatstroke, dehydration and exhaustion. This race is not for sissies and finishing yesterday within the allotted 10 hours is a testament to rider physical and mental fitness, with every finisher a winner. 30 non finishers thus far. READY TO GAIN ANOTHER 10 PLACES: RACE PREP The distance is 119 km’s today with a 1650m climb. A gentle little ride…… We witnessed real emotion yesterday as the cut off time approached. A number of riders did not make it before the gun went off. Of particular interest was a rider from New Zealand who made all the water points well within time but then experienced mechanical disaster with his bike. He ran 25 km (a half Marathon) carrying the bike to a tech point where they managed to get him going again. Spectators waited at the finish with baited breath for him to come in. He did not make it. The official EPIC commentators decided they were not leaving until he came in and appealed to the spectators to do the same. He came in 40 minutes after cut off. When they interviewed him, although very emotional, he pragmatically commented ‘ shit happens!’. Another non finisher from the UK noted that they had trained in -15 degrees and they were simply not prepared for the heat. Some EPIC tit bits: Sally Bingham, a rider from the leading ladies team, received 138 000 hits on the Internet before 10 am yesterday morning. Sally was in the winning ladies team last year. A German mixed team of newlyweds are spending their honeymoon riding the EPIC. The music is awesome as usual, keeping the spectators and riders amped, especially when they blasted out Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer just before cutoff yesterday. And it seems David Guetta’s Titanium may become the 2012 EPIC anthem. Super sport have an Octocopter hovering above us, filming all the drama and the Nice loo’s are not so nice after 3 days of over 1500 users, just to give you some favour of the race village. OCTOCOPTER Kevin Evans and David George won the R10 000 Hotspot cheque at prize giving last night for reaching the highest point of yesterday’s race first, and Kevin donated his half to Nic Hops charity Riding for the Red Cross Childrens Hospital – pretty awesome hey. It would be even more awesome if you would make a contribution, which you can do if you visit www.ridingfortheredcross.com. THE HOTSPOT CHEQUE EPIC rule of the day: the 2 minute rule – this is the crux of the whole thing, the factor is makes this race different to another – it’s a team event. So the members of each team must stick together at all times. Caught more than 2 minutes apart at any stage in the race and there is a penalty or even disqualification. The theory is that they really help and support each other. Apparently, we gotta keep our eyes peeled as the signs of relationship meltdown are evident in body language! Trevor was not on top form this morning. Having recently changed race food, he took strain after the last spectator point yesterday, cramping quite badly. Although this morning his comment for the day is ‘Balls to the wall ‘, I believe the game plan for today is a recovery ride whilst gaining 10 GC places. Hentus teasingly commented that the game plan is go hard for the first 90 km’s and then go harder thereafter. Mixed messages between teammates?! They were smoking yesterday though! VAN LOVEREN WINE ESTATE At spectator point C which is 90 km’ s into the race at Van Loveren wine estate, the guys came in at 4 h 21. Hentus has had quite a fall and is not saying much. Trevor is grimacing in pain and not saying much. We are heading to the finish, 32km away….. We finished 5h55, 121 in the men’s and 190 overall. They came racing over the line and then just vanished. FANTASTIC sprint for the line! We found Hentus 20 minutes later in the medical tent. The fall was quite serious. Possible broken rib and punctured lung. Off to the hospital for X-rays. After a nerve wracking couple of hours, it’s a cracked rib and if he can handle the pain, the TESA team is still in business. He is battered and bruised but smiling. 143 km tomorrow is a big ask but he seems ok and wants to ride. On my Word, my nerves! This blog is delayed as we had to let the spouse know first! Trev is strong. PS after all that excitement, 5 pro teams raced for the finish today, all finishing within 2 seconds of each other. Great excitement but still no podium for 360 Life. Until tomorrow. http://www.cape-epic.com/content.php?page_id=226&title=/2012_TV_Schedules/ EPIC day 4 Stage 3 We are riding today. Cracked ribs and concussion not going to stop this team. My absolute admiration to Hentus for even starting today, the longest stage race in EPIC history. This morning he was in real pain, with tired legs and a painful back, apart from very painful ribs. His eyes were still glazed and it’s possible he lost his mind in the ditch where Trevor found him as he was acting very weird and crazy last night. We laughed alot as the concussion turned him into a comedian. Anyhow, he is not in the best shape this morning but determined to ride. So the game plan today is SURVIVAL. A BIT CONCUSSED? Hentus says Trevor pushed him into the ditch yesterday to slow them down (they were really riding hard up until that point. Trevor’s coach, Erica Green, from Daisyway, had said after the first stage that Trevor may be pushing too hard too early and should slow it down a bit). Hence Hentus’s joke. Trevor says Hentus went ahead and left him and when he next saw, he was lying in a ditch with a bike on top of him. Trevor did race prep on that particular part of the track recently with Daisyway and said your wheel getting caught in that rut meant there was only one way to go and that was down. The internal team joke is that Hentus does not listen to marshals who give instruction in English! There was apparently an altercation between Hentus and the marshal after Trevor had dug him out of the ditch. But I make light of a situation that was potentially serious. LAST NIGHT They went off at 7am in a mass start. The distance is 147 km with a 2900m climb from Robertson to Caledon. There are 4 major climbs, with the longest starting after 110km. It is known as The Toll House and has a plummeting 5 km descent. Dr Evil at his best. Payback time for the fun day out yesterday. This is the day that all the training is about and why it’s called the EPIC. The little spectator booklet says The ABSA Cape Timid does not quite sound the same. STARTING STAGE 3 The race village moves to Caledon today so after the start, we packed up the mobile home and drove to Caledon. It was very interesting living alongside the pro’s for a few days. We had the Bulls to our left, 36One Songa alongside them and 360 Life next to them. All the rivals in a laager. It’s no wonder they close their gazebos up at night so that you don’t see the action. And I suspect that there is some action amongst the technical and support crew once the riders have gone to sleep in their mobile homes! EPIC rule of the day: teams who miss one of the daily cut offs can still ride the race, but they have a blue number board on their bike and are not considered true ABSA Cape Epic finishers. At spectator point B, 110 km’s into the race, we saw our guys, 6 hours from the start. Although they were within the estimated time for the middle grouping, the teams that the guys were riding with in the previous days had come in 30 -40 minutes before. Hentus was in agony, could barely speak, head down and shoulders hunched. With 35 km to go and The Toll House climb ahead, Hentus must feel that the finish line is in another lifetime. Trevor seemed serious and was just quietly riding next to him. 110 KM’S DONE. At the finish in Caledon, Team 36One Songa crossed the line to earn the yellow jerseys. Our favorites, the 360 Life team of David George and Kevin George finally got a podium and came in second. Team TESA finished the race today in a sprint which drives me insane and reiterates the men and the ego thing. We have literally limped today, in agony, but we can sprint over the line. Men! Time today was 8 h 21. Not sure of placing yet but there are still 750 riders out on the track. Hentus is lying in the recovery tent, in all seriousness, in a lot of pain. I think it’s still touch and go and we will decide on tomorrow, tomorrow. DEFINITE CONCUSSION – ALL DAY AGONY AND THEN A SPRINT FINISH? You have got to acknowledge the riders, and they are in the majority, who work full time jobs and train on weekends for the EPIC (the weekend warriors as they are known). They don’t have support and technical crew backing them up. The race village move resulted in them packing up their bags this morning, getting them to the trucks, handing in their filthy race kit to the laundry, eating, washing their own bottles, preparing their race nutrition and drinks, AND getting to the start line by 6.45 am. Amazing really. We have lost our partners to mountain biking. It’s addictive and there is no point in competing. PS I saw Joel at the water tap yesterday. He is very thin due to his Iron Man training. I will tell him one day that I am still his biggest fan. PPS Larne was on Super Sport last night, she was filmed washing the boys bibs. PPS team Hops Squared out braked Alain Prost in the ‘chicane’ yesterday! Until tomorrow. http://www.cape-epic.com/content.php?page_id=226&title=/2012_TV_Schedules/ EPIC day 5 Stage 4 Due to Hentus’ injury, the team lost position yesterday coming in 136 in the men’s category and 217 in the GC. The Overall time on the bike thus far is 22h40 with 7800 m of climb. Overall position is 122 in the men’s and 188 in the GC. 80 teams are no longer competing so the plan of survival yesterday clearly worked. The riders in the photos were the last through yesterday, 7 minutes before the 11 hours cut off. Last 2 riders in before 11 hour cut off yesterday I know they call the EPIC the Tour d’ France of MTB but I think it’s more like the Dakar of MTB. The support team are sitting at spectator point C right now, under a bridge where the riders have to go through a lovely mud pool. If they take the wrong line, the pool becomes a wheel deep dam. The most common word said under this bridge begins with f. Where’s that finish line?’ Hentus had a little cough this morning. His face is grey. He is however on some REAL meds as of last night. Doctor’s orders were paracetamol only to prevent kidney exertion. He decided after yesterday that this is not possible and went onto the good stuff. So now he is spaced out on drugs and we can’t blame the concussion. Will have to check his wee colour for hydration. Generally in the camp, bodies are taking strain now. Body pain and fatigue are expected at this stage of the ride. Trevor said he felt bewildered yesterday at the start as he knew from riding with Dirk after his fall last year, what the day had in store for them. He was actually strong last night but said he could feel his legs had done some kilometers. He also said his bum is sore, with some start of abrasions. Will check that too. The game plan for today is still survival and Hentus wants to really take it easy as there is no point in going hard now which may just do more damage. He just wants to get to the end in 1 piece. His legs are feeling the same as Trevor’s and although the massages are painful, they help with the lactic acid build up. Trevor missed his massage last night as the race village at Caledon has been poorly thought out and the massage tents are far. The Mobile homes are situated in an area with no water or toilets and a really long way from the technical and massage services although this time the ABSA celeb group are our closest neighbors which means I am living within 20 meters of Joel, Elana Meyer and Vanessa Heywood. Getting back to the race village, the guys in the tents have to walk a fair distance to showers, toilets, mechanics and massages. There is quite alot of unhappiness about this. There have also been a number of problems with directions to spectator points this year, with a lot of incorrect printed information and confused marshals. This is not helped by the route changes which happened yesterday so a correction is required. Yesterday was NOT the longest in EPIC history as the route was cut by 4 km. Apart from the pro’s, most of the riders are off the pace today due to 2 mean climbs and a really horrible dusty wind which they are riding into. It’s also quite chilly and the rain is not far off. Larne and I have done a fair amount of bushwhacking in our 4×4 slops, up hills, through muddy streams and beating paths through reeds and grass. No such thing as pretty toes on the EPIC and our feet are looking horrid. We had the Hops boys over last night, as we do every night for them to charge phones and laptops, chat about the day, have a cup of coffee and add valuable content to this blog. As Dr Evil lives in Plett, he stopped to chat as obviously they all know each other. Dr Evil is just normal looking and goes by the name of Leon Evans. He has the Bike Shop in Plett and is actually the dad of Kevin Evans from 360 Life. As you can see from the ‘kiki’, he doesn’t look like he has it in him to take pleasure in inflicting so much rider pain…. 360 Life won the Hotspot cheque again last night for reaching the top of the first climb ahead of the rest of the field and Kevin again donated his half to the Red Cross Children’s hospital through Nic Hops charity. So c’mon guys, visit that website and donate a buck or 2. Just in case you’ve forgotten, it’s www.ridingfortheredcross.com. Kevin donated his hotspot cheq to Nic and the Red Cross again Anyhow, just seen the boys at the water point. We got some nice photos as you can see. First thing Hentus said was he needs pain meds as soon as they get to the finish but he was smiling and quite chatty. Trevor on the other hand had the finish line, 23 Km’s away in mind and was in a rush to get there. 23kms to go Burry and Christoph, 36One took the honours again with Kevin and David less than a minute behind them. Team TESA came in 127 place with a time of 7 hr 21. Hentus seems good with the pain under control. Trevor is strong. A good day in the saddle. Hentus has renamed Charlie’s Heaven Charlie’s Hell or Hol, as you prefer. Clearly the humor is back. The support group’s energy is waning slightly today with 5 days of the 8 under the belt. The thought of a stiff whiskey is very appealing right now. I know it may seem strange to say we are a bit tired if you compare us to the riders. But our days are just as long, if not longer waking up at 5. Let me assure you that between sorting out the camp, food, race nutrition, washing, showering a mile away, rushing to spectator points, the chemist, getting into position for photo’s, blogging, fighting off the office and just generally being there for the guys, supporting at the EPIC ain’t for sissies!! Done for the day and literally dusted Until tomorrow. http://www.cape-epic.com/content.php?page_id=226&title=/2012_TV_Schedules/ Epic day 6 Stage 5 It’s going to be a mud bath today. We are moving camp today to Elgin in the pouring rain. The camp is in a field at Oak Valley and we have showers! FROM SUMMER TO WINTER, OVERNIGHT Trevor said yesterday was the hardest stage of the race thus far and someone said it was proof that the toughest Epic stages are not the longest. One tweet said that if EPIC riders voted yesterday, Bryce Lawrence would be more popular than Dr Evil. Another said it was better than any day in the office. A last one said that Dr Evil had teamed up with mother nature to make it a killer tough day out. The beginning was on district roads, the end was into the head wind and in between there was Charlies with pigs, a long climb with a very cool view, which took at least 2 hours and they did a lot of walking. The descent was dangerous and scary. There was another 12 km uphill climb after spectator point 3 with a steep detour into a forest and a single track down where Chris Hops took a tumble. He also lost his garmin yesterday. According to Nic, he rides in front of Chris, who ‘apparently ‘ dismounts without warning. Nic tried to put this statement into context for me but I chose to stop listening! NIC HOPS IS STRONG TODAY Alastair Hops, Chris’s brother, who is a volunteer at the water points said their truck nearly flipped yesterday with the wind. When they were packing up after the medical team had done a sweep of the area at the end, 3 riders who had got lost came through the water point which at this stage was packed up. These riders had ridden an extra 12 km and eventually ended up missing the cut off by 2 minutes. ALISTAIR HOPS HELPING AT SPECTATOR POINT C Today Trevor was feeling fine and when I asked him how his legs were, he said he felt he had a left leg and a right leg! He wants to trade his bike in for a walking ring so that he can lift up his legs and roll down the hills. Hentus is not so great today. He has a head cold. He is not saying much about the rib pain. I think he goes into that zone that Tim Noakes writes about and just blocks it off. The ride is 119km’ s today with 2350m of climbing. It’s turned freezing and the riding conditions are treacherous. The rain hasn’t stopped and mud has turned to sludge. We have gone from heat stroke a few days ago to hyperthermia. The medical tent at spectator 3 which is at Thandi’s again this year, is working overtime. The riders are shivering so badly and they can’t feel their limbs. An American rider from Utah was brought into Thandi’s to stand at the fire. His body just shutdown and it took about a half an hour with hot drinks to get him going again and although he would get a time penalty for breaking the 2 minute rule, he got back on the bike and joined the race again. It’s real soup weather. RIDERS WITH HYPERTHERMIA Today we had trouble recognizing the Team TESA. The usual black and grey stripes were covered in mud and the yellow arm bands which allow us to recognize them from a distance were not visible. And then I remembered that they were wearing rain macs and their shirts were covered. The way to see them from a distance we have learnt is to look out for Trevor’s hunched shoulders, which in his own words, are shaped that way for aerodynamics! The guys had mechanical problems today and got to the last water point in 7h30. The times overall are slow today and the cut off time has been extended by 1 hour to 10 and a half hours due to the conditions. Trevor was having sense of humour failure with the bike – his back brakes faiIed and Hentus broke a chain and had brake problems. When they got to 100 km in the race which was the last spectator point and only 18 km to the end, only 280 teams had reached this point so far. Hentus said Trevor was “Die Man Van Staal” today as he pedalled so hard due to his back brakes binding. 100KM’S IN There is a team this year riding single speed bikes. A single speed bike has 1 front and 1 back cog. The average mountain bike has 2 front and 10 back gears. Can you imagine the climbs on a single speed with no granny gear and how fast the descents must be!Hectic! When the race commentators asked why they were riding these, the answer was ‘because we can’! They must be super super fit. BLOOD AND MUD BATH Talking about the race commentators, they are highly entertaining with a mountain of info daily relating to each of the teams. They have mentioned Trevor being a WP motorbike champion, keen fisherman and his golf handicap. Everyone’s pedigree is broadcast very loudly in between the pumping music. The finish is at Oak Valley was welcome today for everyone. We have been wet for 24 hours. The little booklet says that if the views didn’t bring a tear to the eye, the climb ahead surely will. It was incredibly tough today. We have just spoken to Karl Platt of Team Bulls who said the last 5 days have been the toughest of any EPIC. Chris Hops said that today was the toughest race day he has ever had. The treacherous conditions he said were mentally draining. THANK GOODNESS SUPPORT CREW DON’T CLEAN BIKES TESA sucked mud today with 162 in the mens and 274 in the GC in a time of 8hr 54. We may have to move the goal posts to a GC placing under 200 as the initial goal was for GC placing under 100. Team 36One got the yellow AGAIN today in 5hr06!!! THANK GOODNESS SUPPORTER CREW DON’T CLEAN BIKES 85 km’s tomorrow and then we are at the finish at Lourensford on Sunday and we hope to see you there. You can expect to see the pro riders cross the line at 11 am and Alain Prost, Joel Stransky, Marius Hurter and of course Team TESA and Hops Squared from 12 ish. But come early or parking is going to be like Charlie’s Hell. It’s also going to be EPIC! ALAIN PROST IS TINE. HE IS 57 YEARS OLD. Hentus is finally smiling. Candy has arrived, with a proper camera, and she has taken over the sleeping arrangements, pitching another tent which hopefully won’t leak tonight. Until tomorrow. EPIC Day 7 Stage 6 2 days and only 140 km’s to the finish at Lourensford tomorrow. We have broken the back. The support team plan on taking advantage of Saturday and partaking in some of Oak Valleys finest wines later – it’s been a long week! It’s our chief nutritionist and Head of Logistics birthday today. She got coffee in bed for a change. Happy Birthday Larn. My back is eina today. Carrying 6 jerrycans a day to fill the camper in Caledon is taking its toll. Reminds me about the commentators who tell the riders daily that what you do or don’t put into your body whilst riding, will be felt tomorrow. It was 8 degrees this morning and the riders have been warned that the top of the climbs will have low temps today. I’ve decided not to follow the riders to the spectator points but stay at the race village as I believe today is the day that 360 Life will take podium and I want to be local to see it, just in case. STAGE 6 The riders will apparently be navigating the remnants of the storm so the route has been changed due to the mud. There is a mass start a half hour later, through the town of Grabouw and the route has been shortened by 4 km, but the climb by only 200 m, apparently insignificant. Today’s climbs includes Groenenberg or if you prefer, Groenberg, a killer climb feared by many riders. The stage today is short but remember what I said about them being the toughest. The little booklet says it’s a stage that will make most cyclists cry for mommy…… SALLY BINGHAM, LEADING LADIES TEAM AT THE START Trevor’s legs could kick start a ceased jumbo jet today but he is happy knowing there is only 140 km to go. His head space is good, he is cold but kind of getting to the point where enough is enough. He was very chirpy after yesterday, singing, whistling and acting like the camp comic. He also said yesterday was the most technically difficult ride he has ever done. Trevor has done Groenberg so many times and is not concerned about this part of the route today. Hentus legs are feeling ok, his back is ‘aff’, he had a snotty running nose and his throat is swollen, making breathing difficult. His knee is sore and in his own words is a crock a doodle doo or an opgevokte Kroc. The medical tent said the dust has inflamed his epiglottis. When i asked how His head is, meaning mentally, he said when he shakes it, fluid comes out of his nose, so it’s clearly leaking! He is however over the moon that his wife is here, meaning I made a poor substitute….! He is not looking forward to Groenberg today. Dr Evil is apparently surrounded by bodyguards at the moment. Teams Bulls said it was worse out there yesterday than the pics showed. The race village is like a swamp. And the commentary is top class again. SECOND SPECTATOR POINT At last! Team 360 Life, the South Africans Kevin Evans and David George, take a podium, winning the stage in 3 h 38 and crushing the field with their time. They didn’t stop at any water points today and took Groenlandberg at pace, leading for most of the way. This time puts them second overall in the GC, up fom 5 yesteray. Camp talk I hear is that after their earlier disasters, they had changed their gameplan from a win to second overall. So far, so good. What a victory, well deserved and they came over the line to rousing and emotional applause and ACDC’s Thunder blasting over the speakers. The yellow jersey for overall lead stays with 36One Songo. PS David George and Kevin Evans media name is Geovans, like TomCat and Brangelina! A PODIUM AT LAST While I wait at the line and watch the world go by, Woolies coffee shop is doing a roaring trade and at R 20 a pop, making a fortune. Oak Valley are roasting pork on several pits and are serving gourmet ciabattas with wine in beautiful glasses. There is not a chance of keeping your feet clean today as the grass is covered in mud. The chill zone tent (the one that serves all the booze and has happy hour every day) is full, with people lying on beanbags watching the Sharks game. And in the sun, it’s WARM! The boys reached the Oak Valley finishing line in 5h55′ in 130 position and 198 overall. Hentus took strain – geez, the poor guy is having a mare! He is battling to breathe as a result of ribs and swollen throat. Trevor enjoyed it but said Groenenberg was loooong, like 20kms long. One more sleep and until tomorrow (sure you are pretty sick of hearing from me!) Until tomorrow. Epic day 8 Stage 7 The final day of the greatest mountain bike race in the world – 2012. One of the songs that have been played at the EPIC all week is Thompson Twins ‘Doctor Doctor’, with the words ‘doctor doctor, can you hear me calling calling’. This really resonates as after yesterday Hentus had a total health melt down and ended up back at the medical tent. After cortisone, antibiotics and other pain tabs, his back and rib felt better this morning but the flu had progressed and I suspect he will be severely ill by tomorrow. The temperatures plummeted overnight which did not aid the situation. MAN DOWN Stage 7, the last of 8 days of the EPIC, was 64 km with a ‘little’ climb of 1350 m from Oak Valley, ending at Lourensford wine estate to great aplomb, fan fare and crowds of supporters. Proud family and friends were there in numbers, waiting for our riders. Team TESA have ridden 49 hours over 780 km and 16 300 m of climbing in 8 days, finishing 127 in the men’s category and 203 overall. Phenomenal really, when you consider that for 5 days, they rode with a serious handicap. FINISHED – LITERALLY To the clients of TESA Fencing, who have supported the team during the EPIC, from all over Africa, to the supporters, colleagues, friends and family from all over the world, thank you for the daily wishes, phone calls and messages of support that have been pouring in. Team TESA has showed strength of character, fortitude, tenacity and that never give in and can do attitude which is synonymous with TESA in general and our riders have been worthy representatives of all that TESA strives for. FANS… MORE FANS… AND MORE My admiration to Hentus, who rode 6 days with cracked ribs and a progressively worsening flu which I suspect has turned into pneumonia. The mental fortitude this has taken I have witnessed firsthand. He has given it his all, with sporadic spurts alternating between surging energy and moments of mind numbing exhaustion and pain. What a performance and feat which I know today he cannot recognize, but which will sink in during weeks ahead. Hats off to you Sir. SUPER RELIEVED As for Trevor, it looks as if he could ride another 8 days. He has got progressively stronger and has shown strength of character, not letting his frustration at his partner’s injury, which harnessed their progress, diminish his enjoyment of riding the greatest MTB race in the world. His broken hand did not hamper in too much but he has 2 numb fingers which is probably nerve damage and a very vrot tip of index finger which he dipped into brake rotar before the day before the race. He was well prepared, mentally and physically and will ride his third EPIC next year. A real man of steel…., already talking about 2013. SUPER CHUFFED Message from Trevor: Participation requires endurance, stamina and mental strength, 30% fitness and 70% mental fortitude. Training for almost a year, fitness is not an issue. I can’t imagine having to do this race without the support of my wife and Larne who have seconded us through this race. They are up an hour before me every morning, sorting out food, drinks and washing and they go to bed an hour after me, in filthy conditions – not the best environment for girls. They are also a 24 hour chemist. So in a sense, all I have to do is ride and I appreciate it very much. Back to the writer! Nic and Chris Hops were the other amateur team that we followed and as you know by now, they rode to raise funds for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. Nic is a childhood cancer survivor and it was a pleasure to share this experience with all 3 of the Hops boys. They came in 148 in the men’s and 245 in the GC, amazing considering this is a father and son team with Nic at the beautiful age of 21! Don’t forget to visit that website –ridingfortheredcross.com. Joel Stansky finished 187 in the men’s and 320 overall and Elana Meyer 38 in the mixed category and 459 overall. Well done to these ABSA celeb riders. ELANA MEYER Overall winners of the ABSA Cape Epic were Christoph Sauzer and Burry Stander of 36One Songo with the all South African team 360 Life overall second – well done Kevin and David who also took the Africa jersey. Watch out for Burry in the Olympics later this year when he rides for South Africa. Thanks for putting up with me over the last 8 days and for all the job offers to write for your blogs – fortunately I have a day job to which I will be returning tomorrow. Until next year! Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.