The Epic is finally starting. The prologue commenced at 6:45am with teams going off in 25 second intervals. Team Betway was scheduled for a 8:51 am start. This was brilliant, we live just around the corner and it meant that we could still get a good night’s rest without a mad early rush.
We arrived 1 hr before the start which was at the University of Cape Town’s sports field. The setting is magnificent. The old buildings of UCT dwarfed by the grandness of Table Mountain.
The energy at the start quite electric, and although the prologue is a short stage, it is still about total commitment to your strategy and concentration levels need to be high.
Our plan was to pace ourselves comfortably for the first 10km to the top of Dead Man’s Tree, then it would be flat and downhill from there.
The best laid plans of mice and men…. Gareth forgot the plan and had me red-lining all the way for 10km. When we hit Dead Man’s Tree, the crowds of family and friends were fantastic, only Gareth saw them and took in the moment, I was focusing on the 100% HR max reading on my Garmin.
We know these trails well, and that was an advantage. Knowing which line to take both on the climbs and descents is a big bonus.
The descending started quickly thereafter, and the newly cut single track drop down to Plum-Pudding hill was proving to be a real tester for some riders. Gareth held our pace back on this descent as we had about two teams in front who had taken to walking down the trickier sections.
We made it through unscathed, but there are ample clips of riders going over their bikes on some proper rocky sections….Aaaggh. From there we just upped the tempo and pushed the pace down the last ±7 km. The finish is always sweet.
Final time to be confirmed was around 1:10:03, spot on to Garths prediction, a lot faster than I had envisaged.
From there it was on to the main Epic village at the Oak Valley wine estate. Camper van nicely parked and set up, gazebo outside to provide some shade (huge thanks, Mike), Nespresso machine already put to work (one of Gareth’s other talents is as a Barista), life is good.
Later we will have dinner in the main marquee and the day’s winners will be announced with the various category leaders receiving their leader-jerseys. We will also receive the race briefing for Stage 1 and find out what batch we start in.
Tomorrow is day one proper.