680km and 20 250m ascent
From Germany, across Austria to Italy
Day 1 – Saturday
Mittenwald – Mayrhoffen
110km, 2000m ascent
We have arrived in Mittenwald, German small beautiful town on Thursday afternoon to have a day to register and acclimatize. We slept in a family guest house and had pasta at the pre race dinner and were ready on Saturday and couldn’t wait to start our adventure.
After one hour of waiting in the schute somewhere in middle of the field – yes people were really keen and came early and the start wasn’t seeded. We were happy to take off and start riding.
It was quite slow pace first as we were in the back. First flat stretch and then we started climbing on gravel road and slowly overtook people and got into nice pace. Beautiful views with high mountains around us and we could see the switchbacks going to the top of the mountain.
Once on top nice descent followed. I thought people went quite slow. Slower than in SA. After flat stretch we filled our bottles at the first water point and grabbed a banana and a sweet bread.
Now off to the second climb of the day into 1800m above sea level. Carren wasn’t feeling strong so I eased off a bit but made it nicely to the top. The downhill was quite scary with steep switchbacks. If you didn’t make it you would be flying down a cliff.
After 2nd water point came a beautiful town in Austria already with a stunning lake. The route went on a cycle path which I didn’t find very safe as riders were going fast in between people walking with kids, etc. It was bit boring long flat stretch on tar.
Beautiful Austrian town welcomed us right in its heart. There were nice refreshing fruit and sweet breads at the finish. It took us quite long to find where the bike park and the camp was. We found a nice spot by window and after good shower rested with our legs up. We were happy as there was WiFi and we could let our family and friends know we are well.
At dinner we found again pasta only. We are missing the meat and salad now.
Day 2 – Sunday
Mayrhoffen – Brixen – Italy
After a good breakfast we went to our starting chute at first group which was an advantage for whole week as we didn’t have to get there too early like the back groups. Simply we rocked up 10 minutes before start and started with easy pace while other racing snakes started to pass us.
Today stage wasn’t too hard from a climbing point of view nor technical with about 50% tar but had some beautiful views. It was a long uphill with tar first and then uphill single track in forest and after first water point there was rocky single track that we had to push and carry our bikes across big rocks.
We arrived to beautiful Italian town called Brixen in 5h 30min and were welcomed by a proper heat. After refreshing fruit at the finish we went off to look for our camp which was bit of a mission about 2 kilometres away from finish but we made it and did the usual routine of standing cue in a bike wash and then finding a nice spot in local gym to sleep.
We decided to eat out as we were craving some fresh salad and found a typical Sud Tyrol restaurant and had nice salads for dinner which was a welcomed change after all the pasta.
Brixen – St. Vigil
60km, 2900m ascent
Good sleep in gym and nice breakfast and we even had a our first proper cappuccino before start on beautiful old Italian square.
The route started uphill again with tar and that changed into forest steep gravel road. The climbing was tough and long with not much view from the forest so we just grinded away until it opened at first water point and we had a good view of the beautiful mountains around us. It took us about 2, 5 almost 3 hours to the top but it felt worth the effort as there were horses in the field and soon we started great fun single track.
Just after the descent before the last hill Carrens shifter broke so we had to fix it and lost some time with that but luckily it wasn’t too far to the finish. Only one climb that took about an hour:) and then fast fun descent that took us right to the finish.
We arrived in beautiful small ski resort town. The dinner was nice for a change as we got a tomato salad and their typical hard white cheese plus pasta of course but it was tasty vegetable lasagne and not the typical Penne with red sauce.
St. Vigil to Alleghe
73km, 2620m ascent
We are used to starting with the climbing and end never ending 2 or 3 hour uphill non-stop. Today though we did quite long hill first and then bit of recovery downhill but afterwards we hit long climb up to 2400m. The highest for the week and hardest day for me. I had to take different heavier bike so as long as we going I’m okay but if we had to push I was definitely struggling more and went up slower than Carren. We went quite a fast pace for about 2hours non stop uphill so when the pushing started I was tired already so after pushing for half an hour I was exhausted and I couldn’t even enjoy the breathtaking views.
Major downhill single track followed that I tried to enjoy but was somehow grumpy and couldn’t wait to be in the finish. Once in finish I felt better and refreshed and check on my brake pads that were still surprisingly fine. As one breaks a lot for long periods.
After bit of swearing when we found out the camp was on the hill and we had to walk steep stairs up and back down for shower and dinner I finally relaxed a little with my parents who came with to support but still had in my mind 4 more days!!
Day 5 Alleghe – San Martino
73km, 3130m ascent
Another big climbing day but there was more hills and few downhills that I prefer as it wasn’t one never ending up hill. I felt strong again and enjoyed the day while Carren felt a bit off for a change. Another beautiful ski resort welcomed us with little bit of first and only rain in the whole week. I had a my breaks changed in the afternoon otherwise my bike was working great and didn’t need ant TLC only a good wash after each race and chain lube from Squirt. We had to wash our bikes ourselves and stand a bit of a cue unlike in Epic where you just give your bike away after you get into finish. Another pasta dinner in another hall but we got little bit of salad too which we were very grateful for.
Day 6 – Thursday
San Martino – Crespano del Grappa
The route profile looked more like our SA race as it was more up and down and not never ending uphill and then downhill. Nice climb up river and around waterfall first and we were quite quickly at first water point and that made us think today will be quick and maybe easier. But there we were
wrong. After long descent came flat stretch on tar with few tunnels which were scary as cars went fast and passed us on double lane and the tunnels were long. Somehow I got to the front and pulled for a while in fast pace and found myself tired at the bottom of hill. We climbed in forest for about hour and started to wonder where is water point two.
After each bend we thought that must be it. Luckily there was a small house where we asked for water as the water point came really late only half way down the mountain and then we drank as much as we could. There was a last uphill and a bit of pushing and carrying our bikes and finally descent to the finish.
Not so easy at the end.
Crespano del Grappa was a small Italian town that looked a bit poor but beautiful in its way. It was dry and hot! We stayed in a local gym and cold showers were actually refreshing.
Day 7 – Friday
Crespano del Grappa to Roverreto
120km, 3100m ascent
When we were leaving Crespano it was already hot and I was scared we were gonna get cooked today. But the climb went in a shade and once we got to the top it was nice and cool.
You must be getting tired from reading this so long story short. it was a long route with some climbs that drag on forever. Carrens engine doesn’t like those so I offered my pocket for a bit and after while she was strong again and we made it to the finish in Roverreto with fun single track and some steep rocky switchbacks which by now I was enjoying as I got good practice. Lot of people got a puncture from riding there too fast and were repairing just few km from the finish. Sometimes slower is better. Which proved right to us as we had no mechanical except of Carrens broken shifter. There I’m not says we went slowly. Carren loved the downhills and especially passing all the men that were shocked by her speed.
Roverreto had a feel already of the finish and holiday. I had my first ice cream there as a reward and great Caprese salad.
Day 8 – Saturday
Roverreto to Rival del Garda
40kms, 1200 metre ascent
After a good sleep we have packed our bags again and put them on the track for last time. We had a big delicious breakfast and coffee and even did a short warm up as we had time and knew the pace for last day will be fast. After start we went on tarmac and it was a stop and start kind of way as there were cars on the road and people tried to push forward. Quite stressful for me not a roadie. Finally we started climbing. My legs were first time properly sore and my gluteus especially. Carren got into fast pace and looked strong and comfortable but I couldn’t get going. There I knew I’m in trouble. Out of breath and with pain I the face I tried to keep up with her and she pushed me few times. Happy returning me the favour from yesterday’s ride. After Tarmac we came onto gravel road in forest and at last we were on the top and skipped the water point as we saw the Belgium girls refreshing and wanted to get ahead of them. Fun single track in forest was a good change with rocky parts that were not so pleasant. I expected to sea the beautiful view of lake Garda but we came to Arco. Arco is 5 km from Riva del Garda, beautiful old Italian town well known for rock climbing and via Ferrata. It is flat stretch to Riva from there. We were still racing in fast pace to the finish and gave the Belgium girls 3 minutes.
Both our parents were at the finish to congratulate us which made it pretty special. Off we went to put on our finishers T-shirts and got our medals and took some pics. After refreshing fruit and last bike wash I found the camp was right there. I got my things and jumped into the cold lake before shower.
We spent the afternoon with our parents and in the evening was the overall prize giving and last pasta and concert of a rock band that lasted till late hours with show of pictures from Sportograf.
I think we are bit spoiled from Dryland and Cape Epic organizing where they serve us great food and wash our bikes. But they did a good job and there were spectacular views of the Alps and the route was fun even though maybe too much tar at times. ‘Squirtlube’ provided their products by the bike wash which was very helpful.
We finished at 8th place overall with strong competition of international riders and are happy about the result. 400 teams out of 462 finished.
Big Thank you to ‘IItec Cape Town for supporting us, Nature Delicacies, Barre Body nutrition, Gu Energy SA, my parents for dooming along and our husbands for letting us go!