No offense, but I can't stand the band "No Doubt".
I know just what you're saying
So please stop explaining
Don't tell me 'cause it hurts
I know what you're thinking
I don't need your reasons
Don't tell me 'cause it hurts
Today's Cape Epic stage 1 riding time was a touch over five hours. Those 12 seconds of lyrics played over and over and over in my head for at least 10,800 of them... which, if I allow for a few actual moments of focus when climbing 25 percent grades in baking summer sun and descending on big rocks scattered amongst little rocks which are lined with blood thirsty plants, equals about 540 times I had that song play through my head.
The 7:00 am sunrise start today wasn't particularly hectic, so I must have picked up the lyrics from the loudspeaker. Typically the race lines out single file from the gun, obliterating any stray thoughts one might have at the time... that didn't happen this morning, so I'm not sure which is a worse fate.
Stage 1 was as classic as a Cape Epic stage can get - moderate from the gun, increasing in tempo as we exited our start town of Robertson, climaxing with 3km of sometimes ride-able, sometimes walkable "hill" under the humid cloud cover of the early morning. Crashes, near crashes, and evasive maneuvers brought us to this hill, and though neither my partner Justin (Lindine) nor I hit the deck, I did get bounced into a plant intent on giving me a bloodletting, and Justin is pretty sure he ran over someone's arm and leg.
When you sign up for the Epic, you sign up for the unknown. The primary unknown element will be "what challenges and adversities will I face today?"
Flats. Broken bike parts, Injuries. The elements. Fatigue. Obscure equipment failures. All of the above.
Today's stage had a case of the Mondays. It was Monday, and also, as I realized around the 50km mark, my birthday. Deep in the pain cave, as they say, I realized the date. "Awesome" I thought to myself. Covered in dust, in my granny gear, bleeding from plants and rock encounters, and struggling to keep pace with my partner on a "un jour sans". Quite simply, a day without.
A day without is a great way to celebrate life. Its easy to feel good when things are easy, or facilitated. Staying within your comfort zone is a great place to be when you don't want to feel... uncomfortable.
While we would have preferred to have had our opening stage of this year's event to be one that didn't included bottle cages breaking off, hydraulic hoses severed by rocks, spokes rubbing brake calipers, and blowing sandy turns in your 11-tooth cog, that is only in part, the day we had.
We stuck it out, put things back together in the last 90 minutes, gave the school kids high fives, cheered in earnest everyone as we made our way back through traffic. Stage one was cruel and beautiful just like life... cool and cloudy, sweaty and muggy, stifling hot under a brilliant laser beam of a sun. Smooth and fast in some sections, incredibly rocky and raw in others. Helicopters and motos buzzing about, cameramen looking as if they'd fall out or off of either at every moment.
We saw a tortoise on the course today. Bart Brentjens standing in the shade waiting for his partner, and his partner was a long way back. I'm confusing the smell of figs and olives out on the course - you wouldn't think you could, but I smell figs. I see olive groves.
I know just what you're saying ...
The following video of Justin Lindine just after stage 1 is provided by Jason Sager