Today was a rough day out there for Cape Epic riders. People are calling it the toughest stage in the history of any sport in the universe, if you speak to any rider here in the camp. Lots of sand. Plenty heat.
And yet, the drop-out rate is lower than any Cape Epic first stage that I can remember. It seems about 15 teams did not finish. This is only 2.5% drop-out rate. In 2010 when we rode, the first stage had a drop-out rate of around 15%.
So is the standard of rider entering the Cape Epic that much greater or are we just used to calling something ridiculously hard and hamming up the suffer factor. Suffering has become quite cool in our spheres as brands like Rapha show us how cool you can look when suffering while riding our bikes.
This is the Cape Epic. It’s an Hors Categorie race, classified by the UCI in line with the Vuelta and the Tour de France, but competed in by mere mortals like us. With a 2.5% drop-out rate, I have to wonder if riders did not prepare for the mental effort that the environment could throw at them?
Did they expect only rocky roads and open dirt roads and smooth single track? Surely riding through 7km of sand in a particular stage was in their preparation somewhere? For Ironman, I make my guys simulate race course conditions week after week in their training, focusing on the specific skillset needed to get through the race a success.
How many riders who rode today practised pushing their bikes in the sand, uphill? I know that after my 2010 Cape Epic I swore that when I rode the race again, I would practise that exact skill because we also had plenty sand on 4 consecutive days.
The riders who finished today are hard as nails; every single one. No doubt, no comment.
But were they ill prepared for what seems to me, like an inevitability when racing in the fruit growing region of South Africa?
Perhaps I will get lambasted for this, but these are my thoughts right now as I hear every rider complain about something they did not prepare for, but in hindsight, may seem like something they should have expected out there.
I realise that hope is an incredibly powerful emotion and that it overrides common sense many a time, but thinking that there would not be this much sand in an area of the world renowned for its citrus, rock & sand seems like pinning your hopes on the donkey at the Durban July. I will stand by specificity of preparation and perhaps you should be pushing your bike up and down Camps Bay beach in coming years as preparation for Cape Epic because mark my words, there will be another stage like this one, possibly one with more sand, in the near future as we look towards finding ways to suffer more, because its awesome.
This is, after all, the Cape Epic and you should expect anything, and be expectant of greatness.
Here are some pics, to lighten the mood:
Find the rest : HERE