Saturday, March 18, 2017

Getting to Cape Town

We made it Cape Town! My impressions so far include a bustling seaport, loose rocky mountain biking trails, trying to remember to look the opposite way when crossing the roads, and lots of well dressed very friendly people milling around but somehow still incredibly slow service wherever you go.

Huge Cape Epic advertisement as soon as you walk out of the airport

Some views of the waterfront area

The idea for the trip was sparked by Brad almost 1 year ago. We first met in Tennessee at Cohutta 100 and had spent a good 6-7 hours together racing the gravel forest roads and singletrack in the Cohutta wilderness. Out of the blue, Brad asked me if I wanted to do Cape Epic with him. I’m still not sure why. How does 6-7 hours of riding together once translate into doing a one of the hardest 8 day MTB stage races together half way around the world? I initially said no. However, after about 8 weeks, I still couldn’t get the idea of doing Cape Epic out of my head. I decided I had to somehow find a way to make it work with my residency schedule. It was going to be after all, the trip of a lifetime.

The trip started 3 days previously and involved ~43 hours of travel time. Let me just say that traveling for that long is incredible when you are in business class (and traveling with George Hincapie). Drinking from real glasses, delicious dinners, ice cream for desert, pajamas to sleep in, seats that fold out into completely flat beds, access to the business class airport lounges with more free food. Needless to say, there was a of eating and sleeping on the trip over. Perfect for pre-race tapering.

Luxurious seats

Traditional Arabic breakfast

We had a 9 hr layover in Doha. We decided to spend our time exploring the airport, working out in the spa gym and swimming in the pool. Who would have ever thought I would be riding an exercise bike in Qatar next to George Hincapie. It was surreal!

Riding stationary bikes with George Hincapie. NBD.

Swimming in the airport pool

We got pajamas to wear on the flight from Atlanta to Doha which I converted into shorts to work out it. The pajama pant legs have come in rather handy. Buffs, hats, headbands, etc.

I am feeling pretty good fitness wise. Winter training with my coach, Chris Beck, has gone really well. We transitioned this year from training with heart rate zones to training with power, and I can see a huge improvement in my power numbers as a result. I had also won two 50ish mile gravel races, Monster Cross and Southern Cross, against competitors who had beaten me previously last year, so that was a big confidence booster. 

So now we are in Cape Town, bikes are built and we have been out for a pre-ride on Table Mountain. The prologue is tomorrow morning: a short 26km in a time trial race with teams starting 30 seconds apart. Our start time is 8:40. I am excited, nervous and can’t wait to get racing. So here’s to riding fast, staying upright, seeing the incredible African countryside and not letting my teammate down.

Views from the pre-ride on Table Mountain 

Getting our official race numbers

Representing the USA at the international dinner. 56 countries represented at the Cape Epic this year

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