Saturday, 31 March 2012

Cape Epic: Stages 4, 5, and 6.

It's hard for me to remember each stage now but I do know that stage 4 was really windy and we had to ride alone into the wind for the last 20km. It was pretty tough but the wind in Lanzarote was great training ;) It was a long day and we were thrilled to take another stage win.

We encountered a great deal of bad luck during stage 5. The weather was terrible - very wet and cold - and the attrition on the bikes was high. Within less than 20km we encountered problems with our gears: Esther couldn't change gear at the front and I couldn't change gear at the rear. We were riding on fast district roads and it was important to be in a group but we weren't able to use our gears so we couldn't stay with any of the groups passing us. Fortunately we were able to fix the problems in the tech zone but by then we'd lost at least 20 minutes to the leading ladies. With our bikes back in action we thought that we could make up a little time, but alas the temperature plummeted and we got really cold especially Esther. We both had rain jackets on but we couldn't zip mine up because our hands were so numb. I had to ride into the rain with it open. Brrrr!!!! Then I crashed on a muddy and slippery, off camber, rutted track. I hit my knee on the go-pro camera on my handlebars and then face planted into the mud. Hmmm! OK, so things couldn't get worse. Wrong. Next my brake pads wore out completely and I had to run and dab on all of the downhills to the finish. Amazingly we finished the stage, and in a podium position: 3rd place. We lost about 20-30 minutes to the stage winning ladies (Karien Van Jaarsveld and Jane Nuessli) and only about 2 minutes to the second placed team (Nina Gassler and Theresa Ralph) in the GC. Phew.

Today was much, much better. The sun was shinning the trails were dust free and there was virtually no mud! Hoorah! The climbs were great, the views were breathtaking and the single trails were so much fun. We had a strong ride and took another stage win for our efforts :)

Tomorrow is the last stage. Our aim is simply to ride safe and avoid mechanicals and crashes. So, one more time....fingers crossed for good luck and fun.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Cape Epic photos

Click here to see photos of the Cape Epic....I'll update when I get new ones.

Cape Epic: Stages 2 and 3.

The days are starting to merge and I can't remember the stage yesterday but I do remember that we won ;) Today was a long and hot day. The first 60km or so were really fast and we rode as a big peloton which was a little bit dangerous at times. Once we started climbing I started to have fun and we were able to break away from the other girls and start to build a lead. The climbs were steep and littered with loose rocks - the challenge made them fun. A couple of the climbs were long and it was nice to get in to a good rhythm. With 10km to go it was easy to start thinking of the finish but the terrain was sandy and rocky and the pace was slow. After 142km and 2900m of climbing we crossed the finish line in 1st place. I had to go straight to anti-doping for my third sample in 4 days!

Esther is a great partner and it's fun and an honour to ride with her. We have different strengths and we are able to use those to our advantage. We're making a great team :)

So, fingers crossed once again for continued fun and luck.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Cape Epic: prologue and stage 1

So the Cape Epic has started and it started really well. We won the prologue and stage 1. Wahoo. We're feeling good and we're working really well together. Only 6 more days to go ;) Follow us on

Fingers crossed for more fun and good luck.

Sal :)

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The day before!

Today has been pretty hectic for everyone. We picked up the campers in the morning, had interviews and registration. Now we're loading the campers ready for the next 8 days. And it's really hot! I've just had a cold shower to cool down and less than 5 minutes later I'm too hot again! It's much hotter this year than last year and according to the weather forecast I don't think that we're going to get much respite until Friday. Hydration is going to be key.

A photo of Camps Bay taken during my morning ride
Our home for the next 8 days 

I had my last training ride this morning including some pre-race intervals and my legs felt really good. I'm happy and looking forward to tomorrows prologue. Fingers crossed for fun and luck :)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Cape Epic: Prologue course inspection

Today we rode parts of the prologue course. It's a 27km loop with 900m of climbing. The trails are a mix of fast loose single trail (climbs and descents) and double track on open trails with great views of Cape Town and Table Mountain - though I'm not sure that I'll be admiring the view on Sunday! The climbs are steep and loose - I like them - and there is a hill top finish :)  

The prologue finishes at the top of the climb at the Meerendal Wine Estate
Our Wheel4Life team kit
 After training we went to a Pizzeria in Camps Bay which has wheat free pizza and pasta. Yummy :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Cape Epic 2012

In 5 days time I will start my 3rd Cape Epic. This year I am really excited to be riding with Swiss rider Esther Suss (World Marathon Champ 2010) in a charity team representing Wheels4Life. Founded by Hans and Carmen Rey, Wheels4Life provide bikes as a means of transportation for people in developing countries. It's an honour to be representing a charity that provides such a simple but life altering resource.

Dave and I arrived in Cape Town 5 days ago and since then we've been busy preparing everything that we'll need for 8 days of racing. Esther arrived yesterday along with my Topeak-Ergon team mates Alban and Robert who will be racing together. On Wednesday our team mechanics, Lars and Peter, will also join us. Add in Craig, our team masseur, and we have 4 team supporters and 4 riders. Logistically the Cape Epic is pretty complicated and having lots of support makes life much easier.

We have the next 2 days to train and carrying on preparing before things start to get busy. On Friday we have a press conference and interviews and on Saturday we have registration and more interviews. Then the race starts this Sunday with a 27km Prologue. From then onwards it'll be non-stop until the finish on Sunday April 1st!

Last weekend Dave and I went to check out parts of the Prologue course but in less than 30 minutes Dave managed to crash. After less than an hour in the medi-clinic he was stitched back up. Really quick service! I returned the next day and rode parts of the course on my own. I expected to see other riders but I was pretty much alone, which was fine until I saw a snake!

I saw this sign after I saw the snake!

Yesterday I rode with Bulls rider Karl Platt over Champan's Peak to Scarborough and Simon's Town. It was a sunny and warm day and the views were amazing. It's such a beautiful ride along the coastline and I love the smell of the ocean and sea mist  :)

View of Simon's Town

I'm feeling in really good shape at the moment but I'm in no doubt that this years Epic is going to be tough. Esther is really strong - a 4th place finish in the first World Cup last weekend is clear evidence of that! I'm excited about racing hard and having fun with her :)

Post ride relaxing :)

Sunday, 4 March 2012

XXC Magazine

Jason Mahokey from XXC magazine interviewed me a couple of months ago. Click here to see the finished copy.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Andalucia Bike Race: Stages 3, 4 and 5

Stage 3

Wednesday was really hectic! We woke up at 6am and drove more than an hour to the start of the stage. The trails were fun with steep rocky climbs and descents, but a problem with my fork meant that I had a really bumpy ride. We won the stage with a lead of over 8 minutes. After the finish we drove directly to our hotel in Jaen which would be the stage town for the next two days. 

Stage 4

The trails in Jaen are really good fun: fast and flowy :) After leading the stage for 83km, a wrong turn with 3 km to go meant that the Colnago girls (Nathalie and Sabrina) caught us. We finished one second behind them. It's good for another team to take the stage win, especially because Sabrina rode a really strong stage.

Stage 5

Today the weather was not so good but after 5 days of sunshine we can't complain. The stage was shorter at 60km but there was still 2000m of climbing. I felt strong and we were able to ride at a good pace. There were some nice technical singletrail descents, which were all the more technical due to the rain and mud. We took the lead early on and finished with a lead of more than 6 minutes over Nathalie and Sabrina who finished the stae in 2nd place.   

1. Bigham and Landtwing 20:13:22
2. Erlandsson and Snihs 20:59:05 + 45:43
3. Scheitter and Mauerer 21:03:53 + 50.31

Racing with Milena was really cool. She's a great partner and I can't wait to team up with her again :) Tomorrow we travel back to the UK and I have three weeks to prepare for the Cape Epic.......