Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cape Epic : Stage 6

It's why they call it Cape "Epic"
Before getting to Dave's exploits down south, l'll provide a quick run down of today's ride on the Clarence-Rockland Classic route. A group of about ten of us assembled at Walmart this morning, and headed out to ride the 86 or so kilometer loop. I'd not ridden it before, as last year I was racing Battenkill on the weekend of the race, as I will be this year. However, I was interested in the ride after hearing tales of rough gravel and high winds from last year's racers. 

Today I was testing my Stan's Raven 35c cyclocross tires on my Stan's Alpha/Chris King wheels I build last weekend. I'll do a separate post on the tubeless road experience after I've had a bit more time on the tires, but let me just say the Ravens are not easy to air up. The folks at the Cyclery put up with my mess and compressor noise Friday night for about an hour, and I only went home with one aired up. This morning I hit a gas station, where the compressor would likely deliver more air, faster. It did, but the front still wouldn't go. I returned home, made breakfast for the family, put a Challenge latex cross tube in (for testing purposes), and was out the door. 

While I was on high volume 35s, other were on anything from 34c cross tubulars, to 25c tubeless, 28c tubed, and 34c cross clinchers. I quickly decided I was happy with my tires. Most of the route is rough, be it gravel or beaten pavement, so the high volume was a boon for certain. I did not feel beaten after the loop, and the tires did not seem to suck much on the smooth pavement. Unfortunately, Neil, on his 25c tubeless broke a spoke and wound up with a wild wobble. Hard to say if the tire size was to blame. Winds were high, at times allowing us to sail, but mostly providing much resistance. Very Belgian. Very spring classics. 

So, despite what appears to be a tame course on the map is in fact pretty technical. Many rough spots will slow riders who take poor lines, wet spots will suck wheels, and winds will force selections. This race will require vigilance and smarts. There are a couple short climbs shortly after the start that will lead to selections. Positioning is key, and it will be worth it to push hard to maintain contact; the wind will make it hard to bridge gaps. The final climb, which is descended on the way out, will feel long for those who are beaten, but short for those who have conserved energy well. The strongest riders will certainly make their moves here and break off those who are at their limit. From there its a relatively short straight to a right turn that leads to a flat and descent into the final flat to the line. Good luck!

Ok, so now for Dave's progress. Looks like he and Brett did in fact manage to claw their way back to 15th in Masters; nicely done guys! Sunday's final stage will be 79k, and hopefully, a sweet finish to the week's racing. Here's the spiel:

In the penultimate stage competitors were wary; the route profile and the total ascent revealed how they would be tested right to the end of the challenge on this brutal Oak Valley loop. Again, the riders headed over Groenlandberg, for the second time in two days, this time following the 2010 route in reverse. After crossing the R43 came a tough sandy climb, nicknamed "The Beeatch". A short section on Highlands Road was a relief before more loose and partially sandy climbing - which was rewarded with a dramatic view over the Indian Ocean, the Botriver mouth and Kleinmond. One last climb led participants through another Cape Nature area featuring some rare fynbos. Shortly after riders got to enjoy the flowing single tracks of Lebanon, before they dipped under the N2 for more fun single track through Thandi and back home to Oak Valley - a great way to finish a strenuous day in the saddle.

David Stachon achieved the following results:

Stage Time:6:48.00,8
Stage Position:19. in Masters category and 102. in general classification
Overall Time:34:42.22,1
Overall Position:15. in Masters category and in 84. general classification

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