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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Cape Epic: Stage Three

Oscar Foulkes March 22, 2017 Cape Epic 2 comments
“I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.” – AA Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

Today would have been my brother’s 49th birthday. He was big on adventures, and this was a quote he often used. It was at his instigation that we went on the first season of Ultimate Braaimaster, and then followed up the following year with a supercar road trip (click here for that story). He also suggested that we do Cape Epic together, but canned the idea when his behind got sore after a leisurely pedal while on holiday in Vietnam.

In the final few years of his life we had some memorable adventures together, and I’m hugely grateful to him for setting up the opportunities.

Cape Epic is an adventure. OK, it’s perhaps a bit more extreme than an adventure needs to be, but it’s one nonetheless. For the riders at the pointy end of the field it’s a race. The rest of us just want to get around safely, in a sensible amount of time, and have some fun in the process. Whether one finishes 300th, 400th or 156th is actually irrelevant. Having the adventure is what counts.

Today’s stage was a relatively user-friendly 78km, with 1650m of climbing, in a big loop around Greyton. That doesn’t mean it was an easy day, though. The field lost a few more teams, with just 538 remaining in the GC. As an indication of how testing the conditions are, one of the ‘hyenas’, Robert Vogel (a very strong rider, by the way), ended up on a drip after shepherding the tail-enders to the finish.

Most of Greyton’s trails are open to anyone with a permit. They are less congested than other parts of the Western Cape, and an excellent reason to spend a weekend out here. The singletrack sections are fun, with some challenging climbs (especially the zig-zag climb up Botmaskop). The most fun, though, was the 5km Land Rover technical section, comprising flowing singletrack from the top of the UFO climb. I was lucky to mostly have a clear run all the way down, so no need for excessive braking. This is the reason why we do this sport!

I felt strong today, but I know from experience that one doesn’t always feel strong. It’s at these times that words like “digging deep” or “Rule 5” or “hurt box” get used. Wherever one is in the field there are riders fighting their own personal battle to summon up the strength to continue.

There is nothing supernatural about endurance. It’s simply the action of taking the next step towards the goal, and the one after that. I’ve spent some time over the past three days riding in proximity to Reuben van Niekerk, who has completed three Epics. On one leg.

Whether he’s on the bike, or off it, getting around the course is many multiples harder than it is for riders with both legs. Huge respect!

I’m surrounded by acts of great courage. It’s an inspiring kind of adventure to have.

Reuben van Niekerk has completed three Cape Epics on a prosthetic leg. Barring accidents, he is on track to take his tally to four.

Reuben van Niekerk has completed three Cape Epics on a prosthetic leg. Barring accidents, he is on track to take his tally to four.


Hougie - March 22, 2017

amazing that you can pluck up the energy and inspiration to write a great piece after each day of this “adventure”. You are better than me

Ines - March 23, 2017

Amazing. Great story. Looking forward to the next stage’ s report. Good luck today!

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