Today was a good day, a tough day but a good day. The thing about short days is that the required elevation gets packed into fewer km’s which means frequent and often steep climbs.
Today was a perfect mix of short surges with long grinds, blended with some fantastic single trail descents that curved, arched and roller coastered across the magnificent Wellington landscape.
There are not many Epic trails that one would actually want to ride again, but today was one of those days that would be great to ride with your mates without pressure. The other thing about short stages is that the cut-off is usually quite pressured.
You have to up the pace. Team Betway managed to finish in 6h10, enough inside the 7hr cut-off. There were a lot of very tired legs out there today following after yesterday’s incredibly long stage, so we were happy to pace the stage for just over a 6hr finish.
At the start Gareth suggested I set the pace from the front so as to dictate what I was comfortable with.
That lasted 300m. Gareth like a race horse cannot hold back, but it works for me as I like the fact that he taps a tempo and keeps me moving. More carrot than stick. It works for us as a team.
At this stage of the Epic there are a lot of single riders, who have lost a team-mate for variety of reasons, they are called outcasts.
Riding alone must be mentally draining, but I really hate it when an outcast jumps between Gareth and me.
They can see we are riding very close as a team, but somehow that desire to sit behind someone tapping a steady tempo takes over and they squeeze in between us. When it’s a day-tripper that does it, it is maddening.
Race Village and Camper Van life has been a real treat here at the Epic, this year we have been styling.
So much so that a professional team and our neighbours (The Bulls) came up to Mighty Mike of Team Betway and asked him if he works full time and if he travels permanently with the Team.
We all had a good chuckle when we heard this…..clearly Might Mike has been head hunted….what a job he has done!
After 5 days of riding between 8 – 10hrs a day, a 6 hr day is a bonus. Tomorrow is 92km home stretch with one extra-large and soon to be legendary climb standing out on the route profile like the tower or Mordor.
If we keep riding sensibly, we can finish this thing.
Sidenote: This stage last year we got to Water Point 1 and our Epic came to an abrupt end. Riding through WP1 , WP2 and finally coasting in to the finish today we both feel a huge sense of relief, a huge weight off the shoulders and David looks relaxed for the very first time….this evening he looked around, also for the very first time to soak in the atmosphere.
David as we all know has worked exceptionally hard to get to where we are……time to take out that Absa Cape Epic jacket that you have been refusing to wear and that has been taunting you over the last year!!
Well ridden today partner…