What a week we had! Theresa and I are really happy with our result and how everything unfolded!
I want to start to say a few thank you's to some very special people that made this possible with such short notice!
First of all thank you to Cape Brewing Company for supporting us with everything we needed to do the race! There are many of you but mostly Henrik and Andy!! We could not have done this without you!
Theresa, my partner, for saying yes to this challange without even needing any time to think about it only 5 weeks before the start!! You are a star!
Pronghorn for sending me the best bike in the world!!! I have never felt so comfortable on a bike before!
Swen and Tim for servicing our bikes everyday with such passion that we did not have any mechanicals at all during the whole week!! We did not even have one puncture, thanks to our Continental tyres!!
Powerbar SA for the nutrition that took me through the week!
GripGrab for my new gloves!
Tarryn for massaging us every day!
Craig for being our "stand in helper" even though he was working for 2 other teams.
Martin at Acrasport for making our last minute kit!
Diana for helping us to get a room with Mike and Gay!!
Nina for letting us stay at her parents farm!
Rudy project SA for my helmet and glasses!
There are of course many many more to thank! It all happened with very little time and we are very thankfull to anyone involved!!
Theresa and I rode together for the first time the day before the prologue when we tested the course, it was difficult since we wanted to see how we can ride together at the same time as we did not want to push too hard… It was a busy day with registration and interview at the Waterfront, testing the route and packing for the Epic.
Prologue 23km at Meerendal
I was a bit nervous, we had no idea what to expect of us as a team or of the competition, all we knew was that the Meerendal team and RECM were really strong and that we were probably going to race really hard for the 3rd spot.
We went off as ladies team number 4 and the first stairs went well which was a relief! My legs did not kick in at first but when they did I felt really strong. On most of the smooth uphills Theresa held on to my pocket and I dug deep to keep us in a high speed, we only had one small stop for a dropped chain, other then that it went well. I loved the course wich was technical and a lot of up and down, a real power course. We passed the teams ahead of us and came in as the first ladies team. Only the two top teams came in on faster times and we were super happy to finish on the podium! A good start to the race!
Robertson to Robertson 111km
We stayed at a really nice guest house in Robertson and it was a bit misty when we drove to Arabella wine farm for the start. The first 20km was fast and flat and we did our best to stay in the bunch. We passed a lot of people fixing punctures so we had to ride carefully over all the sharp rocks. It took me a while to really warm up and I suffered a bit until the first water point. That was when the real climbs started and i found my legs, we could see Esther and Sally of Team Meerendal for a bit up the hills. When we just started the longest rocky decend of the day my back wheel started to make a noice and I thought my free wheel body was gone, since it stopped when I pedaled. On a sharp short uphill I got off since I did not change gears in time and luckily I saw that i had a stick stuck in my wheel, that was the noice, phew!
We rode a constant pace and I got a bit of a surprise with 30km to go when I realised that we were laying 2nd, I had not seen Annika and Ariane of Team RECM stopping for a flat tyre.
It was big smiles on our faces when we crossed the finish line and soon after stepped up on the second step on the podium!
Robertson to Robertson 102km
Today was to be called the muddy day! It was pouring down with rain at the start and it was rain jackets on! It only took a few minutes in to the race when everyone was covered in mud and almost unreckognisable! It was one of the muddiest races I have ever done and the worst was not to be able to see anything! All went well and we were laying in 3rd spot basically from the start to the finish, we were with Sally and Esther up until about 30km then they left us. I felt good until the last 10km when I lost motivation a bit in the mud, my eyes were so sore! I had to go to the doctor to get them rinsed after and then also for antibiotic drops for a few days to heal the infection… It was not just me…
Robertson to Greyton 134km
This was the long stage of the week!! It started with a lot of road and unfortunately we missed a split and ended up in the second bunch and the first 2 teams were in the first…. For a long while we were in a bunch together with the second Meerendal team with Milena and Hilke. Suddenly I heard a terrible noise from my back wheel and looked down, i had a steel wire wrapped around my rear hub! I had to stop and unwind it to get it out. We caught back up to the bunch but on an uphill we lost Milena and Hilke. We passed them again at a water point but then they came flying passed on a very rocky downhill. Sometimes I must say that I wished that my flying Swedish/Danish rocket was a full suspension….
It was a strong head wind on this day and Theresa lost a bit of energy and we had to take it easy. I worked hard in the wind to get us going. We came in 4th today and we were a bit dissapointed, we still kept the 3rd spot overall.
We moved to Nina’s parents beautiful farm outside Greyton, thank you Janet and Brent for letting us stay there!!
Greyton to Greyton 88km
The single track day was here! It was going to be a fun day out there! We hit the first single track already after 7km, it was a long winding single track first uphill and then downhill, it was awesome! I got in to the track about 10-15 people behind Theresa and it was impossible to pass anyone so I had to just keep my spot and catch up on the next gravel road, i worked hard to do so and I think my legs got more tired to add on to the sorness from yesterdays hard effort! In the middle of the stage I found myself again and just loved the single tracks! Towards the end I died a bit again and I was very nervous that the next team was going to catch us! It was a relieved me that crossed the line in 3rd again!
Greyton to Oak Valley 115km
The Queen stage with 2900 meters of climbing! I think everyone was starting to feel the days of riding cause the speed was not that high from the start, it basically only picked up after 15km when we started to hit some hills. We did not push too hard to stay in the bunch but just rode our pace since it was going to be a long day. The longest climb of the whole week was a tough 5km hill with an average gradient of 10%, it was very slow pace up there! At the same time as it was a day with lots of climbing we also had some long descending single tracks, lovely!!
The last climb with the name ”False flat” was tough, it was getting really hot and it felt like a never ending story on the bumby dual jeep track that seemed to never end. At the top we found a teape with an opera singer on top, i was not sure of what I saw, or if I was so tired that I started to see weird things….
I was really enjoying the last 4km of the stage when we came on to the single tracks of Oak Valley that I know like the back of my hand, I had a big smile on my face as we came in 3rd again!
We really got in to the routines in the afternoons. First Swen or Tim came to fetch our bikes, then we cleaned up for the prize giving that took place 15 minutes after the 3rd team had crossed the line (which most often was us). Then it was time to eat and some days it was doping test. Then finding the showers and as soon as possible after finding Tarryn for a massage. We waited for each others to get the massage and then drove to our accommodation. It was usually just time to unpack, wash bottles and clothes, repack, eat more and nap. And at 6pm it was time to go back to the race village for dinner and prize giving.
At Oak Valley we stayed with Mike and Gay at Lorrain farm outside Grabouw, it was a beautiful farm! Thank you so much Gay and Mike for your hospitality!! They also had a very special pet:-)
Oak Valley to Oak Valley 85km
This was my absolut favorite day of the whole race!! Lots of single tracks and all of which I had done before and legs felt strong! We covered the areas of Lebanon, Elgin, Paul Clover, How Hoek and Oak Valley and it is always easier to go fast when you know what is coming! I pushed hard today and Theresa did well to keep up, she crashed twice and hurt her shoulder a bit, but she is a tough coockie and finished strong. We got another 3rd.
When i went to bed in the evening I felt a bit uncomfortable in my tummy and had difficulties to fall a sleep, eventually I got up to go to the toilet, i got a bit surprised when I started to through up, i think everything I had in my tummy came up….
Oak Valley to Lourensford 69km
Lats day!!!! And of course it was raining! I felt alright even though a little nausious. I felt it more when we started… completely flat! We were in 3rd for a long time but on a long climb Milena and Hilke passed us and i had nothing to put against. It became a day of survival and I was very nervous that we were going to loose the 3rd spot overall. I did not care at all about the days result, all I wanted was to be on that podium overall! We fell further and further back in the field and people that we had not seen for the whole week passed us. I got a little energy back after the one kilometer long compolsury portage section when we were on some single tracks, but it did not last long and I really suffered towards the end.
We came 4th on the day and defended our 3rd place overall. My tummy was cramping when we crossed the finish line and that together with a lot of relief that we made it and lots of emotions made we walk around a corner away from all the TV cameras to let the tears come, I was happy and sore at the same time. There around the corner I saw our very happy sponsors and got a hug from Craig! A very happy moment!!