I’m collecting my thoughts while sipping Uva Mira Chardonnay (selected because the vines are grown on the slopes of the Helderberg), while looking at the slopes that caused so much pain this afternoon. They look so benign in the sunset light. It’s almost like the mountain equivalent of ‘butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth’.
When a previous Queen Stage gets relegated to just-a-stage then what replaces it must be tough. Indeed, expectations were built up almost to the point of the old-time mariners’ “here be dragons”.
From Oak Valley to the top of the Gantouw Pass was not a walk in the park, but with an easterly wind blowing we were at least not overheating. Having done the portage, we then had to do the traverse to Lourensford. That piece of riding is a schlepp, and I don’t like it any more when it is done in reverse as part of Wines2Whales day one.
Somewhere along the line the temperature hit 30-odd degrees, and stayed that way to the end.
Then we hit the Land Rover Technical Terrain, which is a beautiful run down the Helderberg MTB trails. Except.
By the time we got there our bodies were tired (read arms, shoulders and hands), the usually immaculate trail was rutted, and there was traffic. Today was not the day to try to knock out a Strava PR!
I was quite desperate for the water point at the base. From here, it was roughly 20km to the finish, but with a bunch of gratuitous vineyard climbs that made it the worst part of the day for me. I had to dig deep over the last hour, or so.
The motto of Cape Epic is “conquer as one”, and today Piet more than came to the party in talking me through the grind.
We got through the day in one piece, which is the most important. We inched a few more places up the GC, an outcome that may have more to do with attrition amongst other riders than any particular strength or endurance on our part.