Who are the riders?
Piet Viljoen (54) – a man with a declared intent of doing something every year that scares him. Amazingly, in 2017, Cape Epic isn’t it. His main target this year is Unogwaja Challenge, which will see the group cycle to Durban over 10 days and then run the Comrades Marathon. He ran his first Two Oceans Ultra in 2016, and also has several Iron Man races under his belt. Cycling, however, is his first love. While this is his first Cape Epic, he has ridden just about all the major races. I’m in awe of the training programme he has followed, in simultaneously preparing for two different endurance events.
Oscar Foulkes (50) – that’s me. I guess I have a similar attitude to endurance as Piet does, except that he is a much stronger rider. My MTB track record encompasses all the usual suspects, although they were completed at a level of intensity that seems social by comparison with Piet’s. My Cape Epic journey has an extra dose of complexity due to my breathing being impaired as a result of multiple surgeries on my vocal chords to remove tumours. And, a year ago I had just completed a six-week course of radiotherapy that saw me losing 13% of my body weight (and it’s not as if I had that spare). Cape Epic was a great motivating factor as I started the process of building up my strength.
We have a number of mutual friends, and one of them introduced us after I put up an Epic-related post for Valentine’s Day.
Who or what is Sergeant Hardy?
Sergeant Hardy is a racehorse I own in partnership with my mother. She bred him, but couldn’t sell him because he was found to have a paralysed vocal chord. This is so serious a defect that it’s grounds for cancellation of sale (after the fall of hammer, nogal) at a voetstoots auction. Despite his reduced breathing capacity he has won five of his eight starts, and he is the highest rated three-year-old sprinter in the country.
Why the pink kit?
Sergeant Hardy races in my mother’s colours – vieux rose with a white sash. It was Piet’s suggestion that we name our team Sergeant Hardy, and it then followed that the kit had to match the racing colours. If anything demonstrates how much of a team player Piet is, it’s his willingness to spend a fortune on pink cycling kit that he may never wear again.
That was my son’s comment when he heard that our team is being named after a horse. Breathing isn’t the only action affected by my vocal chords.
Our Epic aspirations?
To finish every day early enough in the afternoon that we have sufficient time to recover for the next day’s riding.