Everything is epic and off the charts by Cape Epic standards.
Take the prologue. Typically in road stage races, a prologue is five to 10 minutes, just something for the fans to sample and hopefully satiate their appetites to see the riders before the real racing begins. Maybe the reason for the prologue at the Epic is the same, but for reference, our prologue here took longer than my time at the Mellow Johnny's UCI-sanctioned cross country event back in Texas a few weeks ago. It hurt quite a bit more than the Austin event, too.
How's that for a for foreboding for what's to come this week?
But... the crew here knows how to do it right - take our numbers, for example. The crowds and fan support at the Epic are off the chart - these are folks who've come out on their Sunday morning, hiked WAY out into the Northern California-esque hillsides to cheer and encourage riders from those just hoping to finish the race to those who are here to win. Now I've set the stage - tons of fans, in difficult to reach places, usually on the switch back climbs.
"GO JUSTIN!" yells a fan. Dang, I'm impressed. The Machine Lindine has fans everywhere.
"YOU'RE DOING SO WELL, JASON!!" Wow. Not only are they incredibly supportive, but personal, too.
This goes on through out the entire prologue stage... impressing the heck out of me that A) anyone knows us, much less B) recognizes us in our 2012 Cape Epic World Bicycle Relief custom race wear... it must be the pink and blue that caught their attention.
Or... maybe it's that the numbers on our back list the rider's first name in large font and country of origin.
Either way... it keeps it fun for us and seems to really engage the crowd. You have to actually watch the riders pass to catch their names in order to properly cheer.
The course - everyone wants to know what we're racing out there. Picture a twisty and well groomed course held on the hills outside of Sonoma County, California. Weather and foliage would resemble that area during an Indian summer in late September. Hot. Dusty. Dry. Twist and loop around the hills, climbing them sometimes on brutally steep grades straight up the pitch, other times, taking the most moderate of switchback routes, the ground covered in paving stones to provide grip and inhibit erosion.
A great place for a cross country race or a fun and testing ride with your buddies. Or 1198 other competitors...
Now we're off to repack, shower, and tackle the two-plus hour nighttime transfer to Robertson, deep into the mountains and wine country of the Western Cape. The party starts tomorrow, 7:00 am sharp.
See full coverage of the Cape Epic prologue.
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Jason Sager (Team Jamis) is in South Africa, racing the 2012 Cape Epic mountain bike stage race. The 37-year-old father and husband manages the Jamis team and also still competes professionally.
Sager is a long-time racer who often does in mountain bike stage races and other endurance events although you will still see him in some cross country races.
In 2011, he won five stages of the Trans Andes and finished second overall at the Trans-Sylvania Epic with three stage wins along the way. He was 17th at the Cape Epic with a few top 10 finishes.
The past two years, Sager has finished as runner-up in the BC Bike Race, in which he has eight total career stage wins.
Sager, a former banker, is based in Ogden, Utah.
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