We made it.
And what a great feeling it is to finish the race and have it done. There are so many things can go wrong and we did have our share of challenges, but we did great. This race is different - no laps to get back to the pit and get the bike worked on - so you had to be prepared for the worst and this track really beat it out of you and the bike. Winning this race to me was crossing that finish line each day and getting that finisher's t-shirt at the end.
Johnny Kritzinger and Tinker Juarez finished 14th overall at the 2009 Cape Epic.
I met Johnny the day before the race. We never rode together before but I couldn't have asked for a better partner. You need a good partner to finish a race like this as well as we did. And Johnny was the best and I know he will continue to be among the best racers in the world for some time. Keep an eye out for him on the DCM Chrome team in the future.
The track really challenged us because of how tough it was on the bike. I know this is a lousy excuse but the mechanicals set us back. But that is part of racing and how this game is played. We did the best we could but I really wanted to do better for Johnny. He will be there soon enough. The best thing about it is we learned from each other and had a great time.
South Africa MTB racing is way bigger than I anticipated. Before we went, I pictured SA as a quiet part of the world, with some good racers, especially since Christoph Sauser and Jock Boyer have adopted the area as home. What I didn't imagine is that it is every bit and more of an involved cycling community with a huge following than we have seen here in the US in a long time. There were thousands of spectators at every race. At least 20,000 were at the final stage, helicopters with cameras everywhere, motorcycles with camera everywhere, and television coverage multiple times per day. I can't say I've seen that lately a long time. It is right up there with the racing scene in Europe. It was so nice to see SA as being right up there, particularly in the XC enduro scene.
Last weekend they had a national championship race with an impressive list of racers. This weekend they will host the first UCI World Cup race in SA. I look forward to seeing the DCM Chrome team on the podium. DCM is sponsoring the World Cup series, proving that the passion for cycling and desire to reach out to the international arena is very well established. I guess what I am trying to say is that this race woke me up and the rest of the world watch out. South Africa cyclists are here to stay.
Here are some photos of the last day. The stage is a blur now, so I'm not going into details, but it was another day riding my bike with a bunch of friends in one of the most beautiful parts of the earth. A good day in the office.
Brandon Stewart and Max Knox finishing 2nd place Stage 7. They were allowed to race this day!
Johnny Kritzinger and his PROUD Mom
(Johnny placed 19th in the SA Nationals the weekend after the Epic)
DCM-Chrome/MonaVie-Cannondale Team and Support Crew
Leroy, Tinker, Jacques, Kandice, Max, Ben, Brandon, Johnny, and Cisca
South Africa Wine - after race celebration at Johnny's family house
Jacques and Ben
Highway signs! This was not an ordinary chicken house!
Braai (the SA term for BBQ) at the Kritzinger's home Saturday night after the last stage of the Cape Epic. All we wanted to do was sleep - that is until we got there!
5-day old giraffe at the Lion Park
South Africa sunset at Ian Van der Walt's home in Johannesburg after the race - a perfect close for a brutal race
One more thing - I heard that this event was the counterpart of the Tour de France of MTB. There is no doubt in my mind that it earns every bit of respect and more. It was awesome.
Many many thanks and congratulations to the race organizers, our team, Kandice and Cisca for supporting us, without Ian and DCM Chrome I couldn't have been there and I am extremely grateful for this, Leroy for the mechanical support, MonaVie and Cannnondale for supporting our trip and the awesome bikes. The Scalpel bikes held up awesome - perfect for a course like this, Kenda tires for keeping us with the rubber side down - this was the toughest terrain I've race in and the tires made it easy, oh and of course, my family - Joshua and Terri and Tracy - it was awesome having family there with the cowbells, wearing the jerseys, being at the finish line every day, and good food. It would have been hard being away from home for so long without you.