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Off for an Epic adventure!

GarethP's picture

By GarethP - Posted on 06 March 2015

Well tomorrow I am finally off on an adventure almost a year in the planning. About this time last year I was excitedly following the race reports from the SXC racing team who were riding in the Cape Epic. Unfortunately their race did not quite go to plan but now it's my turn. I entered somewhat on the spur of the moment but have had a whole year to prepare.

It's been a long year of training, a steep learning curve (I am relatively new to cycling) and lots of early mornings. I've ridden heaps of kays, climbed lots of meters and I guess I am ready as I'll ever be.

We will certainly not be threatening any podium, our goal is to finish and have some fun. Soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the spectacle.

Everything about this race is huge - the logistics, the financial burden and not to mention the hills. Now I just want to start riding!

Wish me luck!

Rob's picture

Wow... another crazy! Eye-wink

Good luck! If you post your race number, etc. think people will be able to follow you on live tracking thingo.

GAZZA's picture

Good luck and enjoy!

Dicko's picture

Good luck gareth

It is an awesome experience ! Just remember to stop and look around and take in the fantastic people country and scenery - it really is awe inspiring.

I sit here in envy - With this years prologue going up table mountain to start the race - it will be simply stunning.

Have fun !

Brian's picture

Good Luck. The people are so nice over there and the terrain is awesome. The event itself is such an experience and nothing would come close to what is in Australia. It changed me as a rider and person.

Have fun.

Tristania's picture

That's on my bucket list and I'm really looking forward to reading any reports you have of what happens. Regardless of how you do, completing that race is a mammoth achievement so wishing you all the best!

Fatboy's picture

Please blog daily so we can follow your adventure as we did with Wayne & Brian. Looking at what you've done for the past months on Strava it looks like you're ready to nail it!

GarethP's picture

thanks for all the good wishes. A lot of inspiration for riding this race has come from people on here so I am grateful. Currently in Joburg with family, heading off this evening to Plettenberg Bay for a couple of days.

Excitement is definitely building! I feel really privileged to be riding such a prestigious event. Cape Town has had terrible fires the last week but all systems go for the race. The Cape Town Cycle Tour (Cape Argus) was not so lucky - it's on this weekend and has been shortened to 47km. Its the largest participation bike race in the world with 35 000 riders! So a bit of a disaster.

We are team 536 and have a nice early start in the prologue of 7:17. I guess they know we are not likely to trouble Sauser and Kulharvy!

GarethP's picture

Just had to share a quick story. Just been to the bike shop here in Plett and had a nice long chat with Leon Evans aka Dr Evil. He's parted ways with the Epic but is still a bit of a legend. His son is also one of the top riders.

Was great to chat with him about the history of the race and get some tips!

Pete B's picture

Good luck with the race Gareth. Look forward to reading your updates.

GarethP's picture

Hello from the Epic! Day 2 done and what a couple of days.

Day 1 was 113km and 2800m of climbing, including the infamous Groenlandberg. It turned out not too bad, just a long climb on a fairly easy gradient. Magnificent views and at that stage the weather was perfect. Descents are huge too and you are acutely aware of how quickly your race can end. The nice cool weather turned to fog and drizzle and the next several hours were quite cold and damp. After a big day (8 and a half odd hours) was very happy to finish intact, but felt a bit tired.

Day 2, a bit shorter, 92km with 2300m of climbing. After the rain of the first day today we would have the Capes infamous south easter to contend with. It was blowing a gale and progress was extremely slow. Occasionally we would have it at our back and you could go 20kph without pedalling!
Then another big climb with a few steep bits. From here the course trended downhill with some climbs. There was also some nice long sections of s/t. Finished in about 7hrs.

I'm writing this on my phone so it's hard but basically I'm having a ball. I've never seen so many fancy bikes, I'm even enjoying sleeping in my tent. The scenery is stunning and riding up big hills and then bombing down = one HUGE grin.

GarethP's picture

Well I didn't really get to write too much detail about my Epic experience. Patchy wifi, only having a phone, living in a tent and only wanting to eat and sleep after each stage made it quite difficult. And to be honest it's a bit late now, the race is a bit of a blur!

Some things stick out, however. The prologue on Table Mountain - what an iconic place for a ride and even more so for me at my old university.

The sheer scale of the race! It's MASSIVE!

The scenery. The western cape is absolutely gob-smackingly pretty.

The hills! Paardeberg - they sent us up the easy way yet it was still like an hour straight of climbing and parts of it even Sauser and company walked.

The level of competition! In stage 3 the leading women's team beat multiple mens pro teams. The level of riding is just amazing.

The single track stages! Particularly Wellington. You climb FOREVER (actually literally we did a climb called 'Forever'!) but then the amazing, groomed, swooping, flowing, massive grin inducing trails go on forever too. Hands down some of the best trails I have ever ridden. If you are in South Africa get yourself to the Welvanpas trails!

As for how tough it is - well I guess it's tough every year. I reckon weather conditions play a major part and this year we had a bit of everything - rain (not torrential though), wind and heat. It's certainly a hard race though running a 100 miles is harder. It's very do-able if you are well trained (I was doing 20-23hrs a week for many months) and if you don't go too hard. If you are racing hard though then it would be an extremely difficult event.

I enjoyed it so much I entered again for next year! Managed to snag another early bird entry - WOOT!

Edit: We finished about 326 in the GC, climbing positions just about each day. Was pretty happy with that!

Fatboy's picture

Kudos to you for such an awesome achievement!

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