Words: Rachel Fenton
Previous stage report: Click here
My original plan for stage 6, my first proper day without Collyn, was to ride steady and just get through the 99km and 3000m of climbing. Turns out I’m too competitive! Once I started passing people it got kind of addictive and I just carried on.
Notable passes include Stephen (sp?) Roach and someone who used to play football for Real Madrid or Barcelona! Admittedly neither is probably at their cycling best but still you take what you can.
We started the day climbing a stunning mountain range out of Wellington. I have learned now that marathon racing (being all about clever use of energy) requires extensive use of granny gears. On stage 6 this was truer than ever. The climbs were both long and at times brutally steep. I spent lots of time right on the front of my saddle with my chin on my stem.
After two mountains we then descended through the most glorious singletrack (yet again, South Africa you amazed me). I made some friends at this point – a good thing to do as a loner! A couple of guys were also working through the field and as locals they knew the good lines. I was able to sit on their wheels and enjoy the descent.
Then we hit the headwind. I had passed my friends towards the bottom of the descent and was in no mans land, alone, in a headwind. I plugged on but wished I had my diesel teamie (Collyn) back. I managed to find a few groups to sit in and recover but I was almost exclusively alone for 35km churning into a headwind. Mind-blowing.
When we began climbing again I was overjoyed, but I was too hasty. It wasn’t just fireroad climbing, oh no it was more stem eating steep stuff. With the odd super technical descent thrown in between for good measure. They were punishing us to our limits again on this stage.
I maybe overdid it a bit early on, so had to have a bit of ‘recovery’ time at this point (read pedalling slower and stuffing food in your mouth). I also had a silly tumble off the bike trying to tackle a climb everyone was walking. I need Collyn to help me be sensible!
When I crossed the finish line it was great to see Collyn there waiting for me. I enjoyed a day out on my own (and would have been 5th if I had been in the race proper), but it’s not what I came here for.
Follow me on twitter @Fentinator or read my blog www.rachelfenton.blogspot.com
Thanks to Canyon Bikes UK for supplying Rachel’s test bike.
Well, as we post this, the dust has settled on the 2013 Absa Cape Epic and after stage 7 the winners of the event have been announced. Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy, the dream-team, have won the event with the Bulls team of Karl Platt and Urs Huber only seven minutes behind, not a lot after nearly 30hours of racing.
We’ll have a Rachel’s final report and her reflections on the event once she has recovered enough to write it!
Full results from the Epic can be found on the 2013 Absa Cape Epic website.