The light at the end of that tunnel will open up to the Prologue at Meerendal on the 23rd where us 1200 riders will cover the first 23km of this year’s route to determine the start order in Robertson the next day.

I will be reporting on each day's riding for The Hub from the perspective of an amateur racer with a day job, battling the sand, the rocks, the ascents and descents as best I can. This will be very different from the front of the race where the feverish action happens.

But just a little history first as to how I got myself into this.


A prologue to a Prologue

It was a Skype call that sealed the deal. On 5 January 2014 I was invited to do the ABSA Cape Epic with an overseas entrant whose partner had to pull out. It was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse and so it was done.

I was really excited to be signed up again as it had been 6 years since my previous Epic and I clearly remember the feeling of missing out from last years’ Prologue at Meernedal.

The gravity of what I needed to do over the next 70 odd days resulted in a minor panic attack at about 2am the next morning. So many questions filled my head: will I be fit enough, will I be ready, what equipment, what nutrition, what Chamois. Ah yes, I was doing what us athletes do best. I had already started obsessing!

The process began the next day. I firstly took the mountain bike in for a service, then looked for people to train with. I like to think I am reasonably fit and I generally don’t stop cycling for long periods during a year unless I have a particular running event I’m training for, so I went into the training block with a good base fitness.

Now it was time to pile on the base hours, get myself used to the nutrition I was going to ride with, get myself used to the shorts I was going to ride in. The only thing I wasn’t going to able to get used was my partner, because of the arrangement I would meet my partner for the first time only days before the Prologue at Meerendal.

Contact with my partner has involved email and Skype conversations that are at times difficult to co-ordinate due to a 7 hour timezone difference, but we have been in contact weekly to check on each others training and condition. My partner has had to take a few trips to find some mountains as he lives in Singapore, so has found himself in California and Langkawi for training camps.

Race Preparation: the highlights

In amongst the weeks of training my preparation also included a few events. First, the Attakwas, which ended up being a 9h45min journey for me with numerous issues (you can read the full report here). Next was the Argus MTB. What a great race and good day out on the bike (full race report here).

This past weekend, just a week before the Epic, I made my way through to Meerendal to ride some of the Prologue route. This was virgin territory for me and what a treat. A tame start through the vineyards and then some great single track climbs with rocky jeep track climbs to the top to make the legs work a little. Followed by long descending sweeps and bermed corners all the way down to the vineyards again made for two fun loops of the farm.

Not until a friend pointed out that I was a little quiet did I realize that I was sponging everything in, trying to take in every little detail of the route.

And so, with a few days to go, Im trying really hard to concentrate at work but I keep drifting back to the fact that next week I will be traversing the Langeberg Mountains, Robertson Karoo, Greyton and Elgin along with 1199 other ABSA Cape Epic riders.

The obsessive behavior, while well entrenched already (as many spouses and friends will confirm), will reach new heights this week as packing begins and lists are checked and rechecked.