Oak Valley to Lourensford. 69km, 1800m ascent
It started raining on Saturday evening even though light. We didn’t feel like getting out of our sleeping bag into rain again. Luckily it was a light rain only. We got going and my legs were pretty much numb not even sore any more.
We started climbing up steep technical uphill and went up and down in Grabouw area. It took us just under 3 hours to reach the portage and luckily by then the clouds opened up and we could see the view of False bay and Cape Town. My Scott wasn’t too heavy to carry along the portage and soon enough we were enjoying nice flowing single track in the forest. After reaching second water point there was a last single track switch back climb that felt like never ending. The last 20 kms was very bumpy and I had enough by then. Not the smoothest finish. There was short piece of single track just before the finish. We managed to get into the finish in 4;45 and were welcome by cheering crowds and my husband and friends. I was quite emotional on the edge of crying and just wanted to get out of the crowd but it took long to get on the final stage for finishers picture. We also were pretty hungry by then. But felt relieved that its done collected our medals and went to shower and then fetch our Woollies picnic and relaxed at last.
Thank you to my sponsor ITEC for their support, Nakd and TREK bars and Hammer nutrition. Also big thank you to all the supporters calling out my name along the way and my friends and last my husband and sister for their support.
Oak Valley – Oak Valley 85km, 1800
With a promise of lots of single track and slightly shorter day I was looking forward to today. The morning was chilly but not for long. Forecast predicted warm again but luckily there were few clouds and bit of a breeze so we never got so hot as on friday.
We started off with an up hill and I found out my 4 top end gears are not working. So I had to push really hard on the climbs and mostly standing. I don’t know how single speed riders do it. There was some really cool flowing single track down so I tried to push ahead few guys to be able to enjoy it fast. Even Celina praised me how well I passed them in the single track and that I went fast. Now that’s a something coming from her since she is a XCO national champ.
We got to water point one in about 1,5 and the SRAM mechanical support fixed my gears relatively fast. Happy to have my gears back as we went quite long up hill but with beautiful views and then long down hill towards Lebanon and water point 2 that was on top of a steep climb after RSAWEB hot spot. We filled up there and grabbed the usual snacks and off we went more up hill but then we finally got to Lebanon and enjoyed the flowing single tracks even the rockier part. I went first again and loved it. I didn’t hear Katie( the race director) mentioned the Paul Cluver bridges so when we get there I was slightly tired. And had to concentrate not to fall off the bridges and there were lot of people watching. Once refueled I felt bit better and off we went more up and down. 10km before finish I got a nose bleed and it didn’t stop for a while when I looked on my bike frame it was covered in red. Not the best view. So I rather kept looking forward and kept going luckily mostly down single track.
When we got to finish I looked like I broken my nose or something. But luckily not. I felt actually much better than on Friday just looked worse.
My husband waited in the finish so I chatted to him for a bit and then the last usual routine except we went out for dinner to the Oak Valleys Pool Room restaurant where we had delicious meal.
One day to do 69km and 1800m ascent to Lourensford.
Its raining a bit hopefully it will get better!
Greyton – Oak Valley, 115km, 2900m
“This should be the hardest stage!”
We woke up to chilly morning in Greyton. I pushed in bowl of oats. porridge and another bowl of muesli. We had the chance of starting in A bunch to get as today there was a Sasol ladies hot spot. Not that we were gonna win it butt took the opportunity. As expected we got dropped right from start and formed small group with slower pace to go with. The suited me perfect as I’m a slow starter or my legs are.
Beautiful morning on bike it was with mist in the fields and views on mountains. First 35kms I think was on smooth gravel road then there was a single track up hill and nice down hill to water point 1 that was only at 50km
By then it was warming up. We hit the Rusty Gates climb and it looked pretty scary but was doable except of shorter section where most people pushed. It was hot but still ok. Again amazing views from there I considered taking a selfie and a pic of the landscape but was busy trying to stay on my bike.
Water point 2 was on 70km where I drank a lot and ate the usual banana and muffin.
There were about 3 climbs to water point 3 that was another 20km away and by then it was hot hot hot. I was running low on water and so I just had Rehydrate sachet packet as a snack. It seemed to help for a while.
From 3rd water point it was only 25km but prob the most difficult ones for me as the last climb was bumpy and seriously hot. Somehow I managed the mind game of keeping going as one can’t really stop in middle of nowhere in the heat and we eventually got to top of the climb and enjoyed the steep down hill. Last 10 k’s took forever as usual there was another ”last few climbs” and at last fun single track to Oak Valley that did seem to be bit never ending for me.
I had to hold tears back in the finish. One gets emotional after a day like today. We came in 11th loosing our 10th spot on GC to Khombisa ladies who are riding everyday better. We had lost too much time on monday. They had puncture today also but still managed to beat us!
2 days to go with shorter stage on Sunday to Lourensford and 85km, 1800m ascent and lot of single track.
Let’s have some fun now!
Greyton – Greyton 88km, 1900m ascent.
Today might have seem as easier day but there is never easy day on Epic.
After good sleep in the tent I felt quite lazy and scared how I’m gonna get through this but was looking forward to the promised single track. And decided to try to stay positive and just enjoy it.
The first hour was pretty pain full to get my legs going. There were few k’s of gravel road so that helped. It was a bit up and down to the first water point at 30km.
After that steep single track climb came that definitely wasn’t easy. But the fun single track and amazing views on Greyton were worth the effort. Another 2 climbs and more fun single track in Grenandal area before 2nd water point that seem further away. Or did I just go slowly?
Second water point was in Greyton with again great atmosphere. More up and down and away from town we went getting closer to the Oaks Estate. We passed without stopping water point 3 as still had water and it was only 12km away from finish. Not easy 10kms though. We went up towards Lismore wine estate( delicious wine) and last steep viscous climb followed by smooth single track in forest and then all the way down to the finish.
Once there I had to go for anti doping control. Not that I went fast but as we had registered as UCI riders one has to do that. It was my first time ever so I was quite surprised that the nurse actually watches you taking a pee…
Once out I saw my sister that came to say hi and my sponsors from ITEC. They all look so clean and fresh comparing to me:)
We came in 11th again. Tomorrow is last big day and we are still 10th on GC but only 2 min gap. Khombisa ladies are getting stronger and me slower. My partner is very competitive though and will push me to keep the 10th. Wish me luck!
Today we had a long day ahead of us, 134km.
We started off with quite big bunch flat section with rolling hills. Not my type of route. There were some steeper climbs too and some good down hills. I will take this shorter as the day was quite boring for me and tiring. My partner kept telling me to keep pushing and stay in group of people to slip stream. But the pace often felt too fast for me and it took lot of my energy and the fun out of it. I didn’t mention it was really windy!
There was nice atmosphere in Riviersonderend. We fueled up for last time and there was a stretch of single track that was fun and river crossing but only very short. 10kms to finish in Greyton they had us going few steep climbs and single track so it wasn’t easy finish as never is in Epic.
We came in 11th and 10th overall. I was tired and went to bed early.
Day 2, 103km, 1500m ascent
Looking at the profile this should have been an easier and faster stage. But not after it rained whole night. We were lucky to have slept at my friends place in Robertson so had a good sleep in bed and we arrived early for breakfast and dry. But not dry for long. Standing at the start chute we were wet quickly. We had rain jackets on to keep warm at least. We came early enough to be at the front of the D chute ready to chase the C riders.
It was mud right from the start and pretty much all the way. My legs were not quite there but luckily got better after first hour. We went up and down a bit mostly on dual track and got to first water point happy with no mechanicals. I was very happy to see bananas and banana bread that weren’t there yesterday and took some with me. We lubed our chains and off we went towards McGregor. There were few shortish climbs and some single track that was actually rideable and I even had fun. My practice of mud riding from Cape Pioneer Track definitely paid off. Soon enough I saw McGregor town and we were welcome by lot of spectators cheering and great atmosphere. We washed our bikes a bit from more mud and our gears were getting harder to change but still worked.
Few longer climbs and I was starting to feel tired and my partner Celina kept calling come on Kate! Pedal down the hills and stop braking:) She gave me her pocket to hold on on few up hills as my pace was getting slower. It was only 30km from water point 3 and not too many up hills even though they were steep.
We were happy to finish in 6:16 mins and 8th ladies. This time we took pictures in the finish with our faces covered in mud. Then again marathon of washing and un-mudding the kit. We moved up to 10th place in overall.Apart from bananas and banana bread I also had Perpetuem and energy drink in my bottle plus 4 gels!
Tomorrow is a long stage of 134 kms and the camp is moving the Greyton.
I’m looking forward to Greyton Oaks Estate. The weather should be clearing up and hopefully the track will dry up too. Also I’m hoping my legs will keep up with Celinas hard pace tomorrow again and we won’t have any mechanicals.
Day 1, 113km, 2400m ascent
We had gotten to our start chute almost late and we right at the end of our C and D chute. Not ideal! The first 30kms were flat more less. Celina took off and we were pushing hard to catch up. I could feel my back wheel getting soft and had to stop and pump it. That had us being left behind again. We then went on our own and saw lot of other people repairing and pumping. The tubeless tyres didn’t hold under the tough terrain with lot of thorns and rocks in Robertson area. I had to stop again to pump both wheels and so did Celina. We reached water point 1 and found out there was only one pump so took a while to pump the wheels properly.
Off we went up to steep climbs and beautiful views opened to us. Even though there was a bit of fog and overcast. We had to push for a while but not too long. I felt quite strong there and pushed nicely up the hills and was enjoying the down hills. I must it was quite rocky challenging up and down.
As I was thinking that we are catching up and enjoying myself I was flying off my bike bruised my leg quite a lot but mostly my front tyre went completely flat. Long story short it took long to fix. I ended up putting tube in.
Celina waited for me at the bottom of the climb and off we went again. We hit another climb and my energy dropped. I saw and heard water point 3 from the top but it took longer than I thought to get there.
From there it was bit less hectic. And we managed to finish still in 11th place but we had lost about 30 min to 9th and 10th ladies teams.
Once at the finish another marathon starts. First find a tent then clothes to chance into, wait a queue for a shower, wash dirty shoes, go for massage, take bike into service, reply to all messages and write a blog, eat! The camp is quite spread out so lot of walking is involved!
I have gotten matched up through the organizers with Portuguese lady Celina Carpinteiro. She arrived on thursday 3 days before the start. So our first ride together was yesterday – we went to check out the prologue route. After a busy day of registration and buying last few things.
She is a national champ in XCO and road champ. That means her technical skills are great. I’m very excited to ride with her as she can teach me to get better technically as we go.
We had awesome race today. We had the advantage of sleeping in till 7am as our start was at 10:22 only. While others were already on the start.
The weather was perfect. Meerendal can get very hot so today’s overcast was pleasant to ride in. The build up of nerves before start wasn’t too bad. Me and Celina were both in good mood and quite relaxed. Celina took the lead after start going first down the Manor House stairs and I went behind her and taking lead later up the first climb where I felt strong. Soon the RECM ladies passed us and so did Pragma ladies and Meerendal Esther Suss and Sally Bigham.
I went first down the steep climb into the old quarry. Celina passed me half way and took the lead for rest of the race. I just followed her perfect lines. I got pretty out of breath on the last 2 steep climbs. After that we were back to the spectacers and enjoyed the built track with lots of cool bends.We powered it down to the finish and really enjoyed the route.
I heard lots of times Go Kate cheering from my friends and others. It adds on the excitement and helps with motivation to push hard.
We were happy to finish in 10th place in women.