Unaware of my sleeping, I awoke to my own snoring. We had only driven about 15km after leaving the finishing Cape Epic venue at the Lourensford wine estate, but it had been enough time for both Justin and I to pass out, nap, and wake up again while our physio Kurt drove our RV back to Durbanville.
On Saturday, after stage 6, my partner Justin and I had raced a touch over four hours and climbed 7000 feet. We sat in the chairs, completely fresh, figuring we'd maybe been on the bike for only a fraction of that.
Today, after stage 7, a relatively short stage with barely 4000 feet of climbing and less than three hours on the bike, and we were destroyed. Today, our bodies knew the journey of the Cape Epic was complete,and our bodies collapsed. Today's stage hadn't been any more intense, physically than the rest, yet we were exhausted.
Finally a stage had gone well for us, no mechanical problems, not bad luck curses of sticks in spokes, and we didn't need to stop for soup and coffee at any a cafes.
It had simply been a straightforward day of racing, if not deafening today because of the three TV choppers filming the race for live television. Justin and I hung out of the group of big hitters all the way over the day's first big climb, and with that writing on the wall, we bid them adieu and settled in for a long ride in the wind and hills of never ending vineyard rollers by ourselves.
The last stage of the Cape Epic is always the most cherished stage to win. It's the culmination of a long week's worth of persevering, suffering, surviving, and simply getting the job of pedaling done. The crowds are the biggest, the finishing venue the most vibrant and energetic, the feeling of crossing the finish line the most final and satiating of any during the week.
You've made it. Be it first, ninth, or 900th, I believe that everyone in this race carried the same load of work and challenges on their shoulders to get there to Lourensford.
It's a hectic day of packing bikes, gear, returning the RV, dropping off gear and staff, and making an early flight back to Utah... hopefully under the weight limit!
With the attached video, you can enjoy what we enjoyed, the last hundred meters of the toughest race I've ever done.
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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.