In the start chute we encountered a man who has done everything in his power to make Cape Epic as hard as possible. For starters, he’s riding a single speed. In other words, there is just one gear, which is usually not an easy one for spinning up a hill. The bike has a steel frame – not even alloy – that is so heavy I could barely lift it with one hand. Then, for good measure, it has no suspension, either front or rear. His sole concession to comfort is a gum guard hanging from his neck, which he pops into his mouth if the terrain gets too teeth chattering. His name? Max. Yes, feel free to add the “Mad”.
The ride up Rotary Drive was an endless stream of entertaining banter that kept my mind off the exertion of keeping the bike moving. It was with mixed feelings that we kicked on at the top of the hill, leaving Max and his merry men.
Today was tough (as if you’d expect me to say anything different about stage one of the Cape Epic). The temperature exceeded 40 degrees, which made the combination of distance and climbing that much more taxing. Plus, we rode long distances on sandy tracks.
Special mention needs to be made of the Haarkapperspoort descent, which is very steep and long. The path is a glorified hiking trail, a combination of loose gravel and rocks. Riding it is equivalent to skiing on a bicycle. You just have to trust Physics and let gravity do the rest. It’s one of the gnarliest descents I’ve ever ridden.
Piet ended up on a drip, which worked miracles. As I type this, he is cheerfully receiving a massage, with a glass of Restless River Chardonnay in hand. It’s going to be hot again tomorrow, but we’re hopeful of a better outcome.