Part three of Cape Epic challenge

The punishing schedule begins to take its toll on Simon and Gazza. But what's that? A wife to the rescue?

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Day 5: Over the past few days we’d steadily made progress up the GC rankings and things had gone reasonably well but the race was beginning to take its toll on us. I was now urinating with a great deal of pain and had a weird numb sensation in my toes, while Gazza was suffering with an upset stomach and flu-type feelings.
 
This is a tough race and our bodies were beginning to object to the punishment of the days riding together with the lack of quality sleep in the race campsite at night. The legs, however, felt surprisingly good and although sore in the morning, once on the bike and riding they felt pretty good.
 
Today’s stage was a Team Time Trial over 27km, with 860m of climbing. We had a start time of midday, which meant we could’ve a bit of breather in the morning and take our time getting ready for what was sure to be a short but hard stage. We decided that we’d take the stage steady rather than flat out, as tomorrow was a huge day.
 
We got off to a reasonable start but soon found ourselves being caught by teams who had started over a minute behind us! Gazza was struggling with his stomach issues but was bombing down the descents. I was too hesitant and lost my rear brakes halfway round after they overheated down one of the steep descents; I had no choice but to hop off and run down the remaining downhills. So we lost a bit of time with that but finished in a reasonable 1hr 37min.
 
Day 6: Rated the hardest of the race, today’s stage took us from Worcester to Oak Valley, some 123km away with 2,240m of climbing. The day started easy enough with an 8km controlled start on the roads surrounding Worchester but it soon became manic when we went from a wide road to a tight single track with much pushing and shoving going on. The flattish start also meant groups stayed together for longer which was a bit nerve-racking as accidents were never far from our minds.
 
It opened up eventually as people found their individual rhythms and pace, not to mention the sharp gradients (some over 25%) that also did a good job in breaking up the groups.
 
It turned out to be a long day for Gazza as he really suffered with his stomach issues and had to dig deep over the long and difficult stage. Thankfully, though, just when things started to get really tough near the end, we hit some fantastic swooping single tracks. This had an amazing effect of lifting the spirits and seemed to magically rejuvenate the legs and we finished the stage in 6hrs 15mins.
 
My wife had also arrived from Australia, so the added bonus of meeting up for the first time since the start of the race was a real morale booster. It also meant we got to move out of the campsite and into a more comfortable B&B for the remaining nights of the race.
 
Part four follows tomorrow and concludes Simon’s report. Photo credit: sportograf.com http://sportograf.com

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