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Myriam Saugy

Myriam and her teammate

Wrapping up from Cape Town

By:
Cycling News
Published:
April 04, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

Hello you all, I can't believe this is already the time to share with you my last impressions on the...

South Africa, April 5, 2007

Hello you all,

I can't believe this is already the time to share with you my last impressions on the Cape Epic 2007. The last week has been so intense that my head is still full of images from the race itself and at the same time, it feels like I am slowly waking up from a very long dream. I have decided to have kind of a thematic post race report, so I've broken it all up.

Just after the race

Just after the race, a strange feeling came up. At the same time you think finally it's the end and there's no need to suffer anymore, you wonder why you are not getting onto your bike the day after to start racing again. It's a mixture of joy and stress relief that makes you want to cry. That's also taking your racing partner into your arms to tell each other "Thank you, well done, I can't believe we made it."

You have people watching you, photographs being taken and people coming to cheer you up. It's very nice and again, very intense. We have had our little glory time as we got interviewed, and then we started to walk away with the rest of the finishers to get medals, collect our transponder deposit back, and pick up our finisher T-shirt.

When you are all done with that, it's when you start to feel a little bit of emptiness. The field is big, but there is no camp set, so you need to get your bag and the rest of the luggage that didn't follow you day after day. We felt a little bit lost at this point. Hopefully, our Swiss friends took care of us and packed all our stuff in their camper and drove to Stellenbosch where we would share a pizza and champagne together with the other Swiss teams and the physios that looked after us during the week.

We had no time to sit as we had to get ready for the gala dinner. We got into the B&B where we would stay for the night, got showered, and off we went. The Gala dinner was really nice and the buffets were all excellent. The time for prize giving came, and it was great to be on the podium. We took a lot of pictures and the party went on. Most of the riders went into town then and partied until quite late in the night.

On Sunday, we were definitely exhausted but we had to move on and pack our stuff to get to Cape Town. We still went sightseeing as Fabienne was leaving on Monday morning and didn't know the Cape Peninsula. It was weird to see her going on Sunday night. Since then, I have been staying with friends here in Cape Town and taken it really, really easy. Tomorrow I am off to visit others friends in Johannesburg who are going to take me on their farm to see some wildlife. My bike will stay here so I will be off the bike for a few days.

The race

The Cape Epic is definitely a must-do for an endurance rider. The organisation is very professional, but the atmosphere remains very friendly and warm. As an overseas rider, you get to experience a little bit of Africa. What is wonderful is to have so many kids waving at you on the side of the roads and sometimes running after you.

This year had been especially good as we didn't get one drop of rain. We got a lot of dust in exchange but if I had to choose, I much prefer the dust than the rain and the mud. The course was extremely difficult, and apparently the hardest since the creation of the Cape Epic, but I think it was worth it as we were taken through beautiful landscapes. A real challenge, but if you are ready enough a feasible challenge and a wonderful one.

Would I do it again? Just after the finish I was still hesitant but now I can say that yes. Especially because for us European and American racers it can't be a better preparation for the season to come. Ok, this will still need to be confirmed later on…I would do it again as well because I just loved it. To be around people from all around the world, speaking four languages at a time, meeting up, and making connections all around the world...that's so nice.

Our team

I feel so happy to have raced together with Fabienne. We made such a good team. We never shouted at each other, and were always very supportive. It has been such a great experience to share. If she was to ask me to sign up for such a challenge again with me, I would say yes without hesitating. We were a real team from the start to the finish including during the after race party.

Our objectives were the same and we took it day after day. I reckon it's not easy to find someone to make up a team for such an event and I feel really lucky that I made one with Fabienne. We knew each other from different training camps with the National teams, but this week has been a special week and I want to thank her as she is a top teammate. We had to fight quite a lot to keep our second place but we made it which is a sign that we were, are a good team.

And now?

As I have just told you I will be off my bike for a week before I go back home. Once back home, I will train hard again and will do a lot of intensity training. I will race the cross country series (www.swisspowercup.ch) in Switzerland during April and May and start racing long distances again the last weekend of June.

My main objective of the season is the Grand Raid which is the oldest Swiss marathon race. I will try as well to move upward in the international and national ranking. On the side of racing, the months to come will be really busy as I have my final exams at the university in June, plus I need to finish writing my thesis. So I need to relax 150% before I go back home. Batteries need a full charge to get through all these challenges.

Special thanks

Before I conclude I must thank especially

- The Cyclingnews team to have trusted me when I came from nowhere to do this diary.
- Our team sponsors and a special thanks to our supportive team manager Alain Glassey
- Bastien Froidevaux and his team for all their help to get my bikes fixed in Switzerland
- Our 2 physios Iain and Dorylee during the Epic. Our legs felt so much better after their great massages
- Our mechanic Fanie Van Zyl and his girlfriend who looked so carefully after our bikes
- Our teammates Philippe and Jonas and all the Swiss guys who helped with logistics and making time on the road
- All these anonymous riders that helped us to fight against the wind
- And to all of you who have read my diaries day after day and have sent me encouraging messages.

All the best. Keep smiling. Ride on.

Myriam

myriamwww.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Stage 8 started in Kleinmond

Stage eight: The last one

By:
Cycling News
Published:
April 03, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

Hello everybody, Stage 8 to Lourensford was the shortest of the stages. You'd think that was the...

South Africa, April 4, 2007

Hello everybody,

Stage 8 to Lourensford was the shortest of the stages. You'd think that was the easiest, too, but no, no. It was a hard day throughout, and I can tell you we had to push ourselves to get there.

It was amazing to have a start by the sea in Kleinmond. Just before the start, the announcer appealed to all the racers, and we put our hands in the air and clapped enthusiastically. That was crazy. (Due to the excitement), all my hair was all standing up on my arms--you should have seen it.

As I told you, we couldn't take it easy as we didn't have that much time on the (third-place) Rotwild team in the overall ranking. So we started very fast again. We actually climbed back up the National Park jeep track we had come down on Friday. With less heat, it seemed easier than the day before. We managed again to get in the track before the Rotwild girls. However, we could see that they were not far behind us.

The good thing was that overtaking was really not easy. We got into the first water station in second position. But we were soon overtaken by Rotwild as we were lacking some juice on the way up the longest climb. The Danish girls were also just behind us as we hit the top and entered the compulsory walk(ing section) that was part of this last stage.

At this point, Fabienne started to run down, and we passed quite a few teams including the Rotwild girls. The two of us did a very good downhill, and we were again second 15 km before the finish. Another climb came, and we got passed again by the Rotwild team. However, we knew at this point that they would never take us for half an hour unless we had a very big issue.

We still wanted to finish on the stage podium and were scared to be passed "again" by the Danish girls in the last five kilometers. It did not happen, and we just couldn't believe when we passed the last kilometer to go sign. I had to look back 10 times to be really sure that not only we would be top three in stage eight but that we would be second overall.

We made it!

The pressure released when we entered the stadium. It was a nice finish we rode in circle for 500m, passing the crowd, before (crossing under) the finish banner. Fabienne and I were so happy. We hugged and shouted heeeeeyaaaaaaa. We had made it. We had made it. YES!

Look for my next entry coming soon if you want to read about the post-race party.

Myriam

myriamwww.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Myriam Saugy

Stage seven: breathtaking heat

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 31, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

Day 7 is over. I could sum up my day like this: good start, beautiful course, the best so far but...

South Africa, March 31, 2007

Day 7 is over. I could sum up my day like this: good start, beautiful course, the best so far but also one of the hardest.

We are in Kleinmond. It's a very nice setting. The camp is by the sea and I got a swim in the lagoon at the finish and I had a swim in the sea after I had my shower but I am feeling weak as it's really really hot. It was about 40 degrees C during the last section - which lasted 20km.

Fabienne and I used the same strategy as the last days: trying to get in the single tracks before to others ladies. We managed to do it again today and that was a good thing as it would have been hard to catch up the others once we hit it.

Everything went well until the last water station. The heat was breathtaking. That's when we switched to kind of a survival mode. We didn't drink enough and we got slower and slower. As a result we could caught again by the Danish sisters in the last 5 km. This was really frustrating even more because at this stage Fabienne was really feeling dizzy. We managed to keep the 3rd place but we were just 2 min ahead of the Rotwild. The good news is that we haven't lost any real time in the overall and are still in 2nd place. I am a little bit worried about Fabienne; she is totally dehydrated.

Tomorrow it's the last stage. I can't believe it. It has been really hard and it will be hard again. It's a weird feeling as everything has started to slow down. Like the media centre is really quiet but it used to be so busy. It's soon time for the last dinner and I think we are all looking forward to the finish now. The racers, the journalists and all the volunteers, we all look quite tired I can tell you.

I haven't done anything in terms of organization because - another piece of good news - we start late at 8.30am. I have good and bad feelings about the sleep in because the heat will be out there again. So we will see, I will be totally relax and happy only when the race will be over. Check up results tomorrow afternoon.

I will get back to you later on, you will not hear from me for a couple of days. Then you will learn how I recover here in South Africa. Please keep your fingers crossed it's almost over but not quite yet we need your support. Send us positive energy so that we recover well tonight.

Talk to you soon,

Myriam

myriamwww.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Myriam Saugy

Stage six: A more comfortable second

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 29, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

It's hot out here. Today the media centre is set in a barn in the middle of old tractors collection....

South Africa, March 30, 2007

It's hot out here. Today the media centre is set in a barn in the middle of old tractors collection. It's quite funny. We have passed a lot of farmlands and vineyards during this stage. It's kind of cool to get the same smell we usually get at the end of the summer in Europe.

We had again a very good day for our team even though it didn't feel like it on the bike. On my side, I was really feeling out of my body. It may sound crazy, I know, but that's the way it was.

The kilometers passed and at the same time, I didn't see them passing and on the other hand, I was just wishing to be at the finish. We suffered on some of the tar and gravel sections as we couldn't keep up with the flying South African bunches. So we spent quite a few kilometers on our own having to fight the wind.

We were always scared to be caught from the back but it didn't happen. Actually, we finished (in second - ed.) 25 minutes behind the South African team and 18 minutes ahead of the Rotwild girls which means that we now have about 20 minutes lead in the overall ranking. It may seem like a lot relative to road racing rankings, but I can tell you that in such a race, it is not. A puncture, a fall, a bonk and your 20 minutes just melt…

Anyway, we are, of course, very happy with this result, but we are feeling more and more tired. Two more days to go. It seems strange as if we have really entered in a kind of non-stop momentum. The new happening of the day is that I got my first ever nap of the week. I could lay down in the shade for about an hour. That was good.

Otherwise, I need to tell you what happened to Philippe and Jonas our teammates. Philippe broke his rear derailleur after 5km. Jonas, being a bike mechanic, tried to repair his bike and set it in a singlespeed. By the time they had finished that repair they were the last of the day. It was hard on them as they were getting stronger and stronger as the days passed. Yesterday they finished ninth. Anyway, they would have never dropped out.

What happened is that even though they tried to repair the bike, it was really not working. So for 20km, Philippe would run the jeep track sections while Jonas was riding his bike and pushing Philippe's. The jeep track section was followed by a tar section of 10km before the first water station. Jonas pulled Philippe for that section. As they arrived to the water point and it was all packed up, but they still got a new derailleur from the Shimano guys. Finally, they repaired the bike and started to chase everybody. They must have passed about 300 teams as they finished 150th today.

For the first time, Fabienne and I could reserve them a tent and not the opposite. I hope that they will get in the top five between tomorrow and Saturday. They deserve it, don't they?

Ok it's soon time for dinner here. Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed for us. It's not over yet. It will be only on Saturday at lunch time. I wanted to thank you all for the messages you send me. It's nice to know that they are a lot of people behind us.

Ride on. Keep smiling.
Myriam

www.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Myriam Saugy

Stage one: A fast start

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 28, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

Outside temperature: maybe 35 degrees C. Weather: sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Here we are in...

South Africa, March 25, 2007

Outside temperature: maybe 35 degrees C. Weather: sunny, not a cloud in the sky. Here we are in Uniondale South Africa after a 101km and 2,660m uphill stage.

Since the last time I wrote you many things have happened. First, we travelled for over 36 hours to get to the race start. Yesterday, one day before race start, we needed to get all organised and it turned out to be so stressful in the end. Indeed my race partner and I being two women had to get a lot of things in our bags and we had to leave quite a few clothes home because the bags that follow us day after day must weight more than 20 kilos each and we might have the record in the category weight of bags.

The problem was also that there was no way for us to get these bags down to the race start where they were collected to be transported the race finish of the day. It was only with the very nice help of some people who stayed in the same hotel as us that we managed to do that. Anyways, I can tell you that we were actually very happy that the race has actually started because it's better to be on the bike than having to get everything organised.

I realise that I haven't introduce you to my race partner. Her name is Fabienne Heinzmann. Fabienne is 31 and among the best marathon racers in Switzerland. She finished ninth no later than last Saturday at the first marathon World Cup. We haven't trained a lot together this last winter as our schedules didn't match but we have done quite a few training camps together with the national team and I knew that the two of us could form a very nice team and this first stage just proved it. We have a really good spirit and have shouted quite a few times as we are just happy to be here.

So how was the race for us today? Our legs quite suffered from all the travelling I must say. We finished third in the women's category and we are quite happy with this result but we hope that things will get better with the days. The first women were quite ahead from us and we haven't seen them. We know that they are two super South African road racers. That said, we really enjoyed the day and had a lot of fun especially in the bumpy downhills flying through with our full suspension bikes.

As we are in the middle of nowhere I need to leave you for today the connection is really not good and I hope that you will be able to read this today still. Tomorrow I will share a little bit more of our daily life within the Cape Epic camp.

Wish us good luck for tomorrow: 130 km 2,200m of uphill.

Myriam
www.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Myriam Saugy Photo © Sven Martin / Dirt Agency

Stage four: Beating the bonk

By:
Cycling News
Published:
March 28, 2007, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 22, 2009, 19:59 BST

Hello All, Hope you are well. We have done half of the race. Wouah. I must admit I have no clue in...

South Africa, March 28, 2007

Hello All,

Hope you are well. We have done half of the race. Wouah.

I must admit I have no clue in which town we are today. All I can say is that we went through beautiful landscapes again and that we ate quite a lot of sand again. Sand is good then your mouth gets all crunchy mmm, mmm.

Fabienne and I had a very good day today. Actually I think we couldn't get a worse day than yesterday anyways. The route was slightly easier. We still had a 120km long stage but with half as much climbing as yesterday. It was a mixture of very fast gravel roads and sandy rocky jeep tracks. To give you an idea, the best is to check today's (photo) gallery. We were lucky as we got the help of quite a few teams on the gravel road sections including the Cannondale world-class rider Kashi Leuchs and his partner who were having a rest day. Hmm hmm.

Then we pushed quite a lot on the sandy sections. We could stick to the second position for more than 90 km. The only problem we had is that we were so much into a racing spirit that Fabienne didn't eat enough, so she bonked just before the third water station. We got caught up then by the Danish sisters who are just behind us overall.

Fabienne got over the hard time and we worked our way back toward the Danish sisters. The important (thing) for us was not too lose too much time on them. We finished just one minute or so after them which is great. The other piece of good news is that we are now very close to the second position overall. I haven't checked tomorrow's profile yet, but hopefully we will be as strong as today.

Today, I must give a special thank to our mechanic, Fanie Van Zyl and his team who take care of our bikes everyday after the race. Without them we would have to look after our bikes on top of looking after ourselves. For us, it's very handy, and I can tell you that having one thing less to think of is really nice.

The Cape Epic is definitely quite an adventure. Ok, for once I might be able to get a nap and relax before dinner which I will do. Keep your fingers crossed for tomorrow.

All the best,
Myriam

www.myriamsaugy.ch (personal website)
www.team-vtt-texner.ch (team website)

Author
Myriam Saugy

29-year-old Swiss endurance racer Myriam Saugy is training for the Cape Epic mountain bike race to be held in South Africa from March 24 - 31, 2007. She set a goal of participating in the Cape Epic two years ago. In this diary, she documents her training and preparation for the off-road stage race. Saugy began mountain biking in 2000 and racing in 2002. She now rides for Team Texner BMC (www.team-vtt-texner.ch) and is a member of the Swiss endurance national team. Saugy races as an amateur; she is also pursuing a teaching degree in history and geography.