Descents were the only time I was able to recover just a little, and then Piet would unceremoniously toss me straight back into the pain cave.
We did a total of 2000m of climbing, so there was a lot of lung busting going on, but I do need to make special mention of a climb called the Green Mamba, which is a similar gradient to the final part of the Big Tree climb to Tafelberg Road, except that it’s 1.6km long instead of 200m.
The Green Mamba climb was just after the first water point, which we reached soon after the sublime experience of riding down the 2.5km Rollercoaster without any traffic to slow us down. For a few minutes I was able to forget all the hardships that Cape Epic has thrown at us this week.
Completely coincidentally, we entered it just behind another team in which both riders were also on Santa Cruz. Given that every second bike on Epic is a Specialized of some description, this was a rare sight. True Grit is Tallboy territory – there were a couple of times that I picked the least ideal of the lines available to me (read: should have ended in a fall), but I got through fine.
Much of the singletrack we’ve ridden this week (especially getting to, and from, Worcester) was just hard work. The trails were rode today were a heap of fun. We worked for the downhill fun in the climbing we did, but this sport is called mountain biking, after all.
Thanks to Piet’s pacesetting, we had our best stage finish, and crept a few more spots up the GC. The main thing, though, is that we had fun and finished in one piece, ready for the final push to Val de Vie.