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Image credit: Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

We headed out on the same short hill and district road as yesterday and a large group formed immediately, the speed picked up and so did the dust reducing visibility. 7kms later the first small rise started to break the group up as the pace was a little too much for some, maybe a little too much for myself I thought but managed to hang on.

We jumped from district road to district road over farms using hard dual track and we eventually settled into a group again as the district road climbed gently but persistently for some kilometers and had us dodging trucks and bakkies.

Eventually we were turned off the district road onto a steep rocky climb, loose sand and rocks getting the better of some front wheels relegating those to a walk. The rough dual track was tricky to ride with grassy clumps, loose rock and patches of mud to keep you alert. The track leveled out for a while until a marshall guided us right onto some jeep track. We entered a section of single track that boasted sharp rocky edges, loose stones and hard dips and rises. At my last count we had passed eight teams that had hit some technical misfortune on this single track, at one point I was stuck behind a slower rider and there was no way of passing.

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Image credit: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Eventually I found a gap as we crossed some jeep track and I sped up but cautiously. A short but sharp rise on a 90 degree corner became quite musical as riders scurried for their shifters and an easier gear.

Once at the top it was a quick grassy trail down to water point 1, for the readers the water points are very well serviced, with a water trucks, coke and Energade, foods that include potatoes, fruit cake, muffins, apples, banana’s and some bars. There is also a neutral technical zone, a medical tent and a lubrication zone.

We headed out of the water point and Serengeti was upon us in no time, a wide steep climb that shocks the legs and had many testing the soles of their cycle shoes, myself included. The gradient eased and we were able to ride the rest of the way, all the time we could see Rusty Gate lurking in the background. A quick descent through some vineyards with a few tricky right and left off-camber turns and we started the climb of the day.

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Image credit: Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Gentle at first it is a 5km long hard packed road that hugs the mountain side and has a few steep kicks but never really levels out. About 2 kms in the lacing system of my shoes snapped and I was left with a loose fitting right shoe which is not ideal for steep climbing, getting irritated I stopped and managed to make a temporary fix.

On the bike again it was a back breaking climb for the next 3km’s, as the gradient increased and the surface got looser. We reached the top and started the very fast descent on the other side down loose stony jeep track with a few sections of grassy single track thrown in. Two short sharp climbs on hard packed farm roads decreased the speed and lift us into Waterpoint 2.

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Image credit: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

A quick switch of bottles, some nutrition in the form of a banana and fruit cake, drivetrain lubed and we were off again. After a short jeep track road we were guided onto a steep grassy single track that has the shocks working overtime with a few smoother turns at the end we popped out onto a tar road and cycled 5km on tar over the Teewaterskloof dam.

Eventually we turned off the tar onto flat hard jeep track and meandered through the farmlands. We then plunged down steep corrugated farm road that twisted its way into a valley where a very sandy road slowed us down.

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Image credit: Gary Perkin/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Grassy farm roads led the way around the valley and eventually crossed over a stream turning us up a steep trail with small stones and loose sand that made traction difficult and again many resorted to walking until the gradient changed and was kind enough to ride again. Dropping down over the other side we could see and almost identical climb to the one we had just done only a little longer.

This one on a bit harder ground which made it possible to ride all the way up. It then dropped down another rutted farm road to a flat bit of riding in the valley for a few kilometers on dual track.

The final climb of the day started with hard pack farm roads that climbed gently through farmed hillsides and brought us to waterpoint 3.

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Image credit: Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

A quick stop to fill up the bottles and pour a little water over the head as the temperature reached 36 degrees, we carried on over stony track with gritty white mountain sand. The climb was tough but not steep and carried on for almost 7km’s weaving it way through fynbos and proteas with several spots of thick sand to negotiate. Close to the top I could see an odd shape at the top and thought it to be a rock formation but as we approached I suspected I might be hallucinating.

A huge Tee-Pee type structure, gold and silver in colour with patches of material sewn all over blared classical music to us and a woman painted gold and wearing a strange Game of Thrones type costume waved at me, “WTF” from behind me. Thankfully I was not the only one seeing this so I could stop worrying but just really bizarre. I moved on.

As we crested the climb the whole of Elgin could be seen below us and we plunged down loose jeep tracks until we entered the farm lands and the roads now undulated with one short nasty climb before more farm roads swept us into 3 final kilometers of bliss.

Hard packed single track weaved in and out of Oaks and Poplar trees, with the odd fun bridge and bermed corners made for a big smile as we entered the finish in Oak Valley.

115km with 2900m of climbing made this a super tough day but we got through in 6:42.

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Medusa, Queen of the Mountain, a performance art piece by Oakley during stage 5 of the 2014 Absa Cape Epic

Image credit: Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

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Image credit: Sam Clark/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS