It is an enormously exciting event in which to participate, and the feeling of being part of a tribe certainly builds as you see international riders on – or near – trails that we ride every week.
To say that I’ve been excited about starting this Epic would be an understatement. However, based upon my experiences during two previous Prologues, when I couldn’t get my heart rate down, I’ve needed to work on visualising a calm ride, almost as if I was out on a coffee ride with mates.
Fortunately, conditions this morning were cool, which is always a help. We got around the course seven minutes faster than last year, and also felt a lot fresher afterwards. I’d regard this as a big win.
Our Epic plan is to ride at a relatively conservative pace (except for descending, but more on that in a moment), and get stronger as we get deeper into the race. This year, particularly, that is going to be a necessary strategy.
We are not athletes of the ilk of Joel Stransky, who started a minute after us, passed us well before we’d even exited UCT, and proceeded to ride the Prologue 15 minutes faster.
Over the first quarter of the course (roughly), which is mainly uphill, the leading times were about 65% of our time. However, on the final big descent, we performed relatively stronger, reducing that deficit to the point where the leaders were at about 80% of our time.
However, the aim with Prologue – and the event as a whole – is to get around in one piece. In this respect, I had a little reminder of how quickly things can go arse over tits, when I took a little tumble entering the second to last bit of single track. It’s a route I’ve ridden dozens of times, but today there was just a brief lapse in concentration. The end result is a roasty on my elbow, which needed a little bit of attention from the medics.
I’m a lot better off than the rider I encountered there, who took a much more serious tumble on the Plum Pudding singletrack, and is now out of the event with a suspected fracture to his left arm.
While on the subject of the Plum Pudding, I need to broadcast an apology to the rider who was walking in the lower third, but on the trail. I called out to him to please move over. He saw me approaching, but didn’t move, so I shouted at him to “Move!” He still didn’t move, so I had to take the tiger line down.
The main broadcast, though, is a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out to support riders along the route. We love the vibe!
A few hours later: my left wrist that was sprained in November is suddenly really sore. It must have taken some of the impact when I fell. Fortunately, I still have the brace, but it’s in Cape Town, and will get a lift to Hermanus overnight.