Stage one is done. What a day! It was a day full of sandy single track, one huge switchback climb up a mountain pass, a scary downhill straight down the back side of the mountain that was so steep, and then lots more sandy trails afterwards.
Our start time was at 7:15. We were in start corral B based on our time in the prologue from yesterday. There are 13 start corrals starting every 5 minutes to separate the field of riders. For me, there is a constant game of wanting to race hard but also holding back because we have 6 more days of racing after this. The start was fast and for the first 40km or so, I was working really hard to keep up with Brad through the sandy singletrack sections and short punchy climbs into a strong headwind. Brad thought it would be a good idea to skip the first water stop at ~25 km so I started rationing my water too, which was not a smart idea. Thank God there was a water stop at ~45 kms. I was able to refill my camelpack and bottles and after hydrating up, felt like a new rider.
I rolled into the 2nd aid station around 57kms feeling great and Brad had to tell me to slow up on the climb leading out of aid station 2. Then we hit the biggest climb of the day up a mountain pass with lots of switchbacks. I had to walk some sections but the views were incredible! The downhill on the backside was super sketchy. It was very steep, very sandy, loose rocks everywhere. The entire time I was just thinking, “don’t go over the handlebars, don’t go over the handlebars.” The last 30 km had more sandy trails, more punchy climbs and wound us around by the ocean back to the town of Hermanus. Brad started cramping so we took the few kms into the finish at an easy pace. By this time the temperature was about 95 degrees. We finished in just under 6 hours.
It was definitely a long day but we were fast enough to finish in 5th place in the co-ed category and we moved up to 5th place overall. We finished completely covered in dust but really happy with how we rode. The one good thing is that all that dust definitely protects you from sun burns. Despite 70 spf sunscreen, I thought for sure I would be a crisp today after 6 hours in the African sun, but I’m actually not burned at all. Tomorrow we will try to start a bit slower and finish a bit faster, but otherwise, we are riding pretty well together as team.
|Recovering hard with the greatest invention on Earth|
|Ordering a ton of food at a restaurant in Hermanus after finishing the stage|
I didn't have time to make a video tonight, but here are some Go Pro clips I pulled off the footage from today: