You are hereBlogs / GarethP's blog / Epic DNF

Epic DNF

GarethP's picture

By GarethP - Posted on 29 March 2016

I was lucky enough to get an entry to the Cape Epic for the 2nd year in a row. Having family over there it is a good excuse to go over to SA for a visit and I can fit in a small bike race Smiling

My preparation was good this year, perhaps more road miles than I would have liked due to all the summer rain in Sydney. I was riding in the mixed category this year with a friend.

The week leading up to the race we were staying in Hermanus, hoping to ride some of the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) trails. These trails consist of about 70km of trails through farmland near Hermanus - quite an achievement considering they have the cooperation of over 23 land owners. A bit of a lingering cold and some rain meant we did not get as much riding as I would have liked but we did enjoy a few days on the trails there.

Finally the day of the prologue arrived! The last minute change of venues from UCT to Meerendal meant that instead of walking to the start we had an early wake up and taxi ride but it all went pretty smoothly. The prologue this year was pretty tough actually. Last year really felt like a perfunctory ride before the main event, this year it was a decent ride in it's own right.

Day one was as usual a baptism of fire. This year was the shortest ever Epic but the most single track. I can say that this made up for the lack of distance! Even though the trail was not particularly technical we would end up on these long single track ascents in long conga lines having to crawl up the climbs, virtually track standing the whole way. A few hours of this was quite taxing!

Day 1 complete and I was off to bed, tired but feeling good. Then... a dreaded feeling in the stomach, just a slight tummy ache but enough to realize that not everything is 100%. Fall asleep hoping it's nothing serious but wake up and straight off to the portaloos to throw up. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I was feeling completely rotten. Nauseous, throwing up, no energy, just yuck. Stage 2 started with a massive 750m climb up an old wagon trail. I was in two minds whether to start the ride at all, in the end I decided to give it a go. The ascent was horrendous. Rocky, steep in places and heaps of walking, we inched our way up the mountain for about 2 hours. I threw up a couple of times on the way up and by the time I got to the first CP I was done. Oh I forgot to mention - it was boiling hot too. The Western Cape is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in living memory and it's dry, dusty and very warm. That was not helping!

At CP 1 I knew my day was over. My number board was clipped off my bike and I waved goodbye to my partner. Gutted. I lay in the medical tent and was given an anti-nausea injection and managed to keep down a few cups of Coke. After a while a felt OK (it's easy to feel better when lying on a stretcher. Maybe I should continue??

So I jumped back on my bike and carried on. Felt OK at first but soon was having to stop and rest even on the flats. My day was over and I was carted back to the race village in the sag wagon.

I slept for about 15hrs straight and woke up the next morning not 100% but I was able to continue and finish the rest of the stages. My appetite never fully returned and I rode the next few days entirely on Coke and water.

I'm glad I managed to ride MOST of the race but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't really disappointed. All that training, expense, time away from family.... I guess I was better off than some, I met a guy who broke his wrist in the prologue. My main regret was - could I have finished that day? In hindsight it feels like I could have, but at the time it felt like too much to ask.

The rest of the race went fine, we had some really hard days and some fun days. The final day was really bittersweet for me. I was really happy that my partner would be a finisher (though our team would not be ranked) but I knew after crossing the line a really nice lady would come and get me and guide me away from the official finisher's chute. No medal or finishers t-shirt for me Sad

The Epic is an awesome race for sure. Relentlessly tough and unforgiving, it requires mental and physical strength. It's infuriating, exhilarating, pure joy and pure frustration all at the same time. I think I'm done with it though, as much as it pains me to finish on this note. It's crazily expensive (and now even more so for international riders), it's a HUGE commitment in terms of time and effort and there are lots of other bucket list races out there.... Watch this space... Eye-wink

Rob's picture

Ahh... come on... it's like a morning with the hangover from hell. You always say never again, but we all know what happens next! Eye-wink

GarethP's picture

Haha doing the epic is just like a massive drinking session! You wake up with all these weird injuries, sore all over with no money and no real recollection of what the hell just happened!

Fatboy's picture

Good on you for persisting under the circumstances. Kudos!

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Best Mountain Bike