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 Epic day 1
 Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 17:48:59 +0200
 
Todays 17km time trial went off very well with teams leaving in 30 second intervals. Sitting in the start pen with world champions all round was rather freaky. Our strategy was to pace ourselves so that our heart rates did not exceed 85% of max. That was going to be difficult.



When we saw some German pros come thundering into the start finish transition and then almost pass out from over exertion we started doubting our strategy. Maybe, if we didn't also push it to the max, we would come last! These thoughts were very real and we discussed it. Glancing about, our worries intensified as we looked at every lean athlete there. Every one of them looked like they could eat us for breakfast and rode the latest and most expensive machines!! Usually there are at least some bellies flopping about the start pen. Not today. Our heart rates were almost at our chosen maximum of 85%, yet we were just standing around waiting our turn. Thats called intense excitement with ostrich size butterflies flapping about. We stuck to our battle plan, paced ourselves, and, despite a brief encounter between Ian and some knarly looking rocks (the rocks weren't damaged in any way,) we managed 134th overall with a time of 44:43.



However, this race is about who is faster over 9 days and 1000km, not 1 day and 17km.



There is plenty time to see if our strategy worked. 
 


Tomorrow we start at 7 with the big guns and the slower guys that are not in the groups A, B or C then start behind us.
 
We will send another update tomorrow of our conquests on stage 1. Visit the Epic website to see live updates of the race www.cape-epic.co.za
 
Best Regards
 
Team USN Squirt
Ian & Frank
Frank

 

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Dear Geoff,

For Stage 2, Absa Cape Epic riders travelled from George to Calitzdorp, a 137 km journey with 2 518m of climbing. The route took riders through a very hot Karoo (39°C) and up the toughest climbs. The first challenge of the day was Montagu Pass, with dirt roads winding 9km up an 8% average gradient through the spectacular mountains and valleys. After some loose, rolling tracks through Chandelier Game Reserve came the Gamkaberg killer – Breakback Mountain. The climb reached 1 100m in altitude with the steepest gradients at 18%. It was a technical climb and riders lost some traction with loose rocks in the path. The high-stakes descent with sharp rocks and hairpin bends made it scarier than the uphill. The last 15km to the Calitzdorp Spa was flat and fast, but still gruelling as temperatures soared and wind conditions made it worse.

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 7:26.32,8
Stage Position : 94. in Men category and 135. in general classification
Overall Time : 14:49.32,5
Overall Position : 91. in Men category and in 127. general classification
 

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Dear Geoff,

Stage 3 of the Absa Cape Epic saw riders complete their stage journey from Calitzdorp to Riversdale, with a distance of 133km and climbing of 2 340m. Of the 1198 riders who left Knysna on Saturday, 1112 were still in the race this morning. 15 riders were competing with a blue number board, meaning they can still ride the Absa Cape Epic, but can’t compete for overall results, because they haven’t completed one of the stages.

The teams were taken up a 13 km steady drag on smooth dirt roads over Rooiberg Pass. It was a long climb that steepened to 9% before a 70kph decent into the valley. After some sharp, rolling hills, riders crossed game country, where antelope, giraffe, leopard, and caracal watched the riders charge through. From there on the terrain was tough. Maximum concentration was needed to preserve bike and body. The rock formations were as geologically fascinating as they were race threatening (should riders have chosen a bad line or made a bad tyre choice). Even after riders survived the punctures and the heat, there was still a long slog on dirt roads before Garcia Pass. They welcomed the tarred, gentle climb and fast descent that took them into Riversdale, for a hard-earned rest.

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 5:49.38,2
Stage Position : 74. in Men category and 106. in general classification
Overall Time : 20:39.10,7
Overall Position : 83. in Men category and in 117. general classification
 

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Dear Geoff,

For Stage 4 of the Absa Cape Epic (Riversdale to Swellendam), the rolling hills through the farmlands provided the power riders with a chance to ply their trade. Then came the big ones – heartbreak one and heartbreak two, the second of which was 4.5km long with a 7% gradient. After two days in the Karoo, riders passed through dairy country before heading into Grootvadersbosch, another Cape Nature jewel, and back into some lush forests again – a welcome shelter from the harsh sun, or so thought. In actual fact, the forest was hot and humid and did not provide the expected shelter. There were more challenges to come – more climbing, technical descents and river crossings, which were passable only by foot, or on a mountain bike. A short tar section passed the historical mission village of Suurbraak – a town that is no stranger to the Absa Cape Epic. At the weir crossing, it was “only” 12km home, which must have felt like 25km. Riders had to watch out for the mean, technical forest climbs that steepened up to 15%. It took longer than they expected to get into Swellendam.

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 6:13.19,7
Stage Position : 68. in Men category and 94. in general classification
Overall Time : 26:52.30,4
Overall Position : 75. in Men category and in 106. general classification
 

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Dear Geoff,

For Stage 5 of the Absa Cape Epic, the route had riders make the journey from Swellendam to Bredasdorp (146km, 1 819m climbing). While it might have looked like an easy day on the smooth dirt roads, riders had to turn into about 20km of rough dual tracks of De Hoop Nature Reserve where rocks and deep sand killed their momentum and their legs. As this time of year is usually a dry season, the sandy tracks were deeper and longer. Many were frustrated with having to get off and push. But it was finally worth it – riders got a magnificent reward – another ocean vista opened out in front of them as they crested the last hill. Thorns and sharp rocks posed the challenge of keeping air in the tyres again. This protected area was alive with flora and fauna with proteas, baboons, ostriches, eland, steenbok and Cape mountain zebra. But riders focused on getting home across the windy plains and farmlands into Bredasdorp.

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 7:15.36,0
Stage Position : 82. in Men category and 114. in general classification
Overall Time : 34:08.06,4
Overall Position : 72. in Men category and in 101. general classification
 

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Dear Geoff,

For Stage 6, Absa Cape Epic participants travelled from Bredasdorp to Hermanus (130km, 2 095m climbing). The start out in Bredasdorp offered fast gravel roads through the surrounding farmland. A rugged warm-up climb followed by a loose descent got riders ready for the day’s big challenge: Salmonsdam Nature Reserve. It was a 14km ascent from around 6% to 12% on rugged jeep track, winding its way through mountain fynbos. The views along the way, as well as the loose and rocky drop down towards the vineyards, made it worth the effort. But the finish line was still far away. A short stretch on tar gave riders a welcome rest before dirt roads and farm tracks headed for the sea. A quick nip over the dunes took riders into the shores of Walker Bay to cross the Stanford River mouth – a knee-deep wade before they reached the spectacular finish at the Old Hermanus Harbour.

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 6:54.56,8
Stage Position : 102. in Men category and 138. in general classification
Overall Time : 41:03.03,2
Overall Position : 78. in Men category and in 106. general classification
 

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Dear Geoff,

For Stage 7 of this year's Absa Cape Epic riders enjoyed a shorter route from Hermanus to Grabouw, but it was definitely not easy! Covering 91km and 1 984m of climbing, participants immediately faced the steep tar ascent up Rotary Drive, which granted riders scenic views back over the seaside town of Hermanus and Walker Bay. The route descended through Hamilton Russel and headed for Babilonstoring Nature Reserve, navigating the sandy and rocky jeep tracks. After crossing the R44, the next challenge waited - a loose climb which gained 500m in altitude up to Lebanon Nature Reserve. Then it was single-track time through the Lebanon forest! A quick dip under the N2 took riders to some more fast-flowing single-track. Then the Absa Cape Epic teams had to find their way up and down steep vineyards for their overnight location at Elgin (Grabouw).

Frank Hayward achieved the following results:

Stage Time : 5:34.51,8
Stage Position : 93. in Men category and 127. in general classification
Overall Time : 46:37.55,0
Overall Position : 75. in Men category and in 102. general classification