Mar 30, 2009

Stats & Facts

I’m still coming to terms with exactly what it is that Paul & I have done in completing the 2009 Cape Epic and as my thoughts crystalise over the next few hours and days I will write about some of my experiences, the highs and lows etc. of an amazing journey.

For now here are some cold hard facts:

600 teams of two were due to line up at the start of the Cape Epic Prologue on Table Mountain on the 21st of March but for some reason only 598 made it. Apparently there were a number of serious accidents the day before during the test riding of the route. Of these, 503 made it to the finish line at Lourensford.

We finished in 278th overall and 180th in the Men’s category with our overall time being 46:29:21.0

Officially the race is 743kilometres long with 16650m of ascent. However my Polar heart rate monitor disagrees with the official stats but I’ll go with them. What my Polar can confirm however is my calorie expenditure which stands at a whopping 35539Kcal for the whole event. That is about 14 days worth of food in 8 days! Amazingly I lost no weight at all.

We had two key aims at the outset and a third one of lesser importance. These were: 1) To finish 2) To have fun along the way & 3) To finish in the top half. We achieved all three and as such are very pleased with ourselves.

We had agreed at the outset not to hit the Prologue too hard and were reasonably pleased with our time of 1:11:32.3 This put us in the G starting group which was the last seeded group followed by the Open category. By Stage 3 we had worked our way into the F start group and for Stage 6 & Stage 7 we were in E. Each day we managed to be in the front of the start pen and this really helped on a few occasions, particularly around Greyton when there was a bit of chaos which we were able to take advantage of and work our way through the group in front of us.

We were very blessed not to suffer with any technical issues as our bikes ran perfectly and neither of us picked up any serious injuries besides sore bums, stiff legs and a number of scratches and bruises. We had a Face Plant Sweepstake which meant whoever fell off the most had to buy the other a bottle of champagne. Sadly I lost this 2-1 but Paul more than deserved the bubbly!

Other than pushing ourselves way too hard on Stage 1 on Sunday, the only day we didn’t really enjoy was Stage 4 which was around Greyton. This stage favoured roadies and sprinters of which we are neither. Also by this stage I was seriously struggling with my nutrition. Thankfully the guys at Polar were really helpful and after a lot of eating to get myself sorted Stage 5 was fantastic, definitely our best day! We crossed the finish line with stupid grins plastered across our faces on that day. Stage 6 was also a highlight as we entered the Kogelberg Biosphere. The Wolfkloof descent really played to our strengths and the long sandy patches which followed allowed us to drop a lot of other teams around us and again we finished with huge smiles on our faces. They were two fun days on the bike and more than made up for the pain of Stage 1.

Overall credit for our performance must lie with Paul and his instinct for racing. Having done the Cape Epic last year as well as the Cedarberg, Sani2C and years of adventure racing he has a good handle on how to play to his strengths and maximise any opportunity to gain ground on his competitors. Paul would often see a gap and go for it whilst I would have been happy to sit back and get my heart rate back down. However Paul would always say I could rest on the downhill which was frustrating at times as they were often nowhere near as long as the uphills! One of Paul’s key tips was to ‘ride over the hill’ as opposed to ‘riding to the top of the hill’. What this means in short is that most riders (me included) would ride to the crest of a hill and then back off and freewheel whilst attempting to recover. Paul’s technique is to ride for 5 pedal strokes beyond the crest, working on the theory that if you freewheel at 5k’s you’ll do 5k’s all the way down whereas if you freewheel at 25k’s you’ll do 25k’s all the way down and thereby drop a number of other riders. Trust me, this works like a dream!

A few more facts (or rather, stats of friends and other teams I was watching).

Matt (& Ryan) - Snowmen 130th
Dan & Anka - Hansgrohe/SantaCruz 277th (one place ahead of us)
William & Jannie - Oak Valley Wines 226th
Mario & Andy - Mondipak 348th
Vic & Mark - Pimp My Ride 466th
Erica (& Willie) - ABSA/JAG Legends 81st
Johan Cilliers - DHL Logistics - Individual finisher: 39:57:12.6 (would have been 125th if partner not dropped out)

Cyberspace friends:
Roons & Wimpie - Google 452nd
Paul & Dennis - Times Boardman Halfords Bike Hut 478th

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