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October 18, 2015

Cape Pioneer: Prologue

“DO NOT STUFF THIS UP”

This seemed to be the words coming from most starters today. A fantastic route was thought out by the organisers to bring the race ‘to the people’ so to speak, before we head off into the wilderness to suffer in silence. The Cape Pioneer Trek Prologue happened in Mossel Bay today, in and around some of the busiest areas of the town famous for its oil and wildlife. The excitement in the air was palpable as those with no expectations and those with many expectations met on the same course for the first time, but not the last time in the next week.

A prologue is such an interesting thing. Usually it’s a smash fest for the quick who can really let the hammer hammer & those who require more diesel than high octane loathe these short tests (present company included). Give me a 5 hour slog against the elements – hell, make it 10 hours – and I am happy. These 30min efforts hurt and the motto of the day was to get through the route as fast as possible, with zero influence on the rest of the week.

That meant no damaging equipment, not doing too much damage to the legs or the mind. You want to go as fast as possible, while saving something, but also giving yourself the confidence you need to compete for the rest of the week. It’s an interesting see-saw for sure and one that in hindsight, works perfectly but while out on the course it’s tough to judge how are you ACTUALLY going.

I am riding solo again this year, so that thrown into the mix makes for a day of ‘what ifs’ and ‘could have beens’ potentially, if you take it just a tad too easy.

The actual route, I thought, was fantastic. You start on the tarmac with three short, very steep climbs to just remind yourself you are not a 60kg whippet and that you’d do your best this week to bring lights along because there is no electricity in the pain cave.

Following the little ‘howzit’ is a superb, fun bit of singletrack on the cliff edges above the roaring ocean with some sharp rocks to keep you honest. A quick portage section to just remind yourself you are indeed dependant on oxygen for power, followed by a fun, gnarly little downhill singletrack bit brings you back into the fray of the beachgoers and supporters for a quick lashing down the coastline with a tailwind to make you believe you are indeed wearing a red cape today.

The coastal promenade section was super fun with some sharp turns and unexpected twists before you turned back into the headwind for the 3km slog home. Just as you think you are going to flipping ace this the course slows you down a little near the end making you push just a little deeper before the end.

Among the PRO guys it was the Scott LCB guys who finished up 1-2 and the Ascendis ladies who dominated the womens section. Two of the other solo guys I sharing digs with this week came in first and 3rd in the Solo cat (Richard Damant & Craig Uria) so there was plenty to celebrate when I came across the line in 9th. Our solo cat looks superbly filled with talent if you consider that 30seconds faster would have put me in 4th for the day. It makes for an interesting week ahead where we will see who brought their A-game for the tough days out in the Klein Karoo.

I am looking forward to tomorrow with a fast start on the beach before the real race begins.

Let’s check out some of the pics I got today from various places on the course. Tomorrow we will kick off with more ‘in-race’ images.

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