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Cape Epic 2019: Stage Two

Oscar Foulkes March 19, 2019 Cape Epic No comments
I’m going to apologise in advance, because there’s a rant coming. By way of lead-in, I need to introduce a 1970s Motown group, The Undisputed Truth. Don’t worry, I didn’t know about them, either, until my kids introduced me to their music, particularly their song Friendship Train. I think it’s got a really cool sound – listen to the video alongside.

Here’s the final verse:
This train stands for justice,
This train stands for freedom
This train stands for harmony and peace
This train stands for love
Come on get on the friendship train
People listen to me now
Harmony is the key my sisters and brothers
Oh yes it is I say
Harmony is the key my sisters and brothers
People can’t wait cause another day might be too late
Come on get on the friendship train

For the purposes of what’s coming, substitute “tribe” for “train”, so that one gets the phrase “this tribe stands for …”

As I said in my post-Prologue report, one of things about Cape Epic that gets riders excited is this sense of being part of a tribe. Usually, this tribe is associated with high levels of fitness, and an ability to endure pretty much whatever is thrown at it. It’s also a group of people that spends a lot of time in wilderness areas, deriving a huge amount of pleasure from being in the landscape.

However, over the past few days I’ve seen another side of my tribe, and it’s made me very grumpy. Riding towards the back end of the field means that I get to see a lot more of it. What I’m referring to is litter, generally in the form of discarded packaging for the various energy bars and gels that get consumed. It would not be an exaggeration to say that if I had collected all the litter from every one of the mountain biking events I’ve taken part in over the past ten years, and distributed it on the Cape Epic course, what has been discarded over the past two days would exceed a ten-year accumulation.

Given this tribe’s relationship with wilderness areas, it’s a big surprise, and it brings into question how one might finish the phrase “this tribe stands for …”

Come on, guys, it doesn’t take a lot to slip the spent packaging into a pocket, or to lodge between thigh and bib short.

OK, rant over.

We had a much better day today. We went out with the same strategy, of riding conservatively so that we could finish the 92km stage (2200m of climbing) in roughly six hours. We more-or-less achieved that, but most importantly, we reached the end feeling good about the day. It was much better space to be in than where we were the previous day.

During last year’s Epic I had reason to coin the phrase “the Tallboy line”. I hadn’t ridden the Santa Cruz Blur yet (the more racey version of the Tallboy that I’m riding this year), but I could as easily have called it “the Santa Cruz line”.

It’s been noticeable how many more people are riding Santa Cruz this year. There seems to be a culture of riders defaulting to one brand (no need to mention it), without actually taking a range of bikes out onto trails. It’s great to see some variety.

This morning we had the opportunity of riding a “Santa Cruz line” on a very rocky piece of steep jeep track where everyone was on the smoother side (and on their brakes). I pulled out to the unused side, released brakes, and enjoyed what amounted to a self-created Technical Terrain. I could do it with confidence, knowing what the bike is capable of.

Another factor, I think, is that I like to ride with fairly soft tyres (1 bar, or even slightly less). Had I been on super hard tyres I’d have had a much harder time keeping the bike on the trail, not to mention upright.

Back on the flats and climbs it gets back to who has the legs and ability, which leaves me trundling my way along at the back of the field, where I have plenty of time to notice what the riders ahead of me have discarded.

Tomorrow is another huge day – 107km, with 2800m of climbing. There is work to be done!

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