Ok so I’m still a little bit in a daze, you can’t take an expat South African, shower him in sunshine, droewors, family and friends and not expect him to be a bit blinkered in his view of the world. I’m a happy camper, but I can assure you there was much trepidation leading into this years Cape Epic Prologue.
Scott and I had only ever spoken on the phone, we had never ridden together and lived on opposite sides of the UK, we had literally no idea how our pairing would pan out. I’ve spent a winter on the road bike, Scott had managed to squeeze in some time in Lanzarote on the MTB so we really were approaching things from different perspectives, and in truth, we still down know how we will stack up on the big long days that lay ahead, but if today was anything to go by, well I reckon we’re going to be just fine.
The Cape Epic is a spectacle, there is so much preparation around this event and so much time and organisation invested in pushing the boundaries of what makes it special that you find yourself going ‘oh that is so cool’ constantly. Its one of many proud races on the Southern tip of Africa but it is still certainly ‘The One’ every marathon rider needs to tick off. I am finally getting to do that, and I’m loving it!
Lining up on the start ramp, brand spanking new Momsen Vipa Team under each of us, my mind shooting back to all those cool pics of friends who have been here before and now finally, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 GO! We set off and a healthy pace, I warned Scott I over-cook most starts so ‘don’t worry, its a nerves thing, I need to get it out’ I think Scott had a ‘mmm this is interesting’ moment but soon enough I was at my redline, adrenaline expelled and slotting back into a normal rhythm, a rhythm with Scott leading the charge and me clinging on!
[caption width="1000" align="aligncenter"] Here we go, two new team mates and alot of mutual respect[/caption]
The trails out of Meerendal are dusty, very dusty, the Cape winds were ready to welcome the riders with some pumping gusts that had riders physically knocked off the raised single track. We had started with a big old rocky climb lined with supporters but once their cheers had died away you really felt a bit ‘oh hell, its just us, the work starts now’ and off you smashed into the fast loose trails.
The course is a bending rolling beast, you can’t underestimate just how long 26km can feel when you are pushing hard and you really, as I found out, can’t underestimate what a little slip in concentration can lead to. I managed to drop myself face first into the dirt in a rather unceremonious fashion exiting a hairpin, ouch! Lesson learned, thankfully no major damage and simply a wake up call, this course can bite, stay awake!
Driving along the flat we decided with me being the relatively larger rider I would take the wind, this works pretty well, we’ll find the perfect rhythm, a 26km time trial is really hard to gauge each others strengths and weaknesses but I did enjoy the fact that heres a guy I’ve never ridden with and the minute got racing we did what came naturally, a little ease off here, a pace kick there, just both silently adjusting to each others flow, that was cool!
[caption width="1000" align="aligncenter"] Dusty and dry was the order of the day, Scott set a blistering pace[/caption]
As we climbed the last test before home the feeling was just awesome, supporters lining the route again, chunes going, wicked! Our kit is pretty distinctive, riding for a local brand Momsen Bikes meant the Saffa pride was strong, ‘GO MOMSEN!! Victor will be happy’ followed by the cheekiness ‘SO LONG AS YOU WIN’ Good banter between the riders and the spectators was a full day highlight, not unique to this race but uniquely South African, to me…this again was very special.
As we finally drilled it home I was more than a touch relieved, I love a good time trial but as with all of them, they’re better finished than started! We were chuffed, the first test and the first nerves out the window, we paired well, obviously much to come but this felt like the final piece of the puzzle, its been a long journey and now its time to soak it up and enjoy. The bikes handled this little dabble with madness beautifully, they are fully designed with one purpose in mind, marathon racing, so the real test will come during the week but so far I’m impressed!
[caption width="1000" align="aligncenter"] Big skies and big racing, this it the African way![/caption]
Tomorrows stage is a beast, its a 108km loop with 2300m of climbing, I counted 3 main peaks but a real punishing shark tooth of around 14 peaks and troughs, oh man. We need to pace well, in some ways this will feel like a queens stage, everyone wants to make it to Stage 2 and really feel like they are making progress.
There are still a lot of smiles in camp, lets hope it stays that way, heres to another awesome day racing for Momsen Bikes UK at the Absa Cape Epic 2016!