This weekend has been wild for me as I think through my final preparation for my first race of 2013 next Saturday. While it sure doesn’t feel like race season outside, I’m getting a firm boost of excitement with the Absa Cape Epic kicking off this morning and next week’s Barry-Roubaix (technically a cyclocross race, but mountain bikers are welcome). I celebrated with hot lap to Dunton Park with my daughter (7.1 mph average) for some playground fun in the warm sun. I wasn’t planning on riding hard today, but she kept pushing me to go faster 🙂
Unfortunately, I was unable to get a pre-ride in of the new Barry-Roubaix course this year. It travels about 95% of the same roads as last year, but the race start/finish has been moved to Hastings, MI rather than the Yankee Springs State Game Area campground. It actually changes the course quite dramatically because Hastings is essentially on the opposite side of the race loop from the historical start/finish. The major concern this year has been course conditions as the killer gravel road race utilizes several seasonal roads that either don’t get plowed, don’t get plowed often, and/or are in the shade limiting the sun’s ability to melt snow off the road. I’ve been scavenging and devouring up every pre-ride report I can find. If you, too, are looking for some idea of what you’re in for, here’s a link to a Flicker page from today, and here’s some YouTube footage (6 part series) from last weekend.
The long range forecast for next Saturday is currently sunny with a high in the low 40’s and a low of 30. Considering we’ll be starting at or shortly after 10a.m., I’m guessing its going to be on the lower end of that range. However, with the sun and warming temperatures, it could cause whatever snow is on the road to soften and create some major road suck as well as make them squirrelly. Top that off with snow forecasted for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, and this has all the makings for one painful race for the record books. Someone I was talking to said this could be one of those races that everyone talks about for decades and those who participated will be able to boast “I rode THAT year”.
As far as the Absa Cape Epic goes, today marks the beginning of the 7 day event with the prologue. There are a few teams riding in honor of Burry Stander, the South African professional mountain biker who had won the last couple of Absa Cape Epic’s but was tragically killed by a taxi this winter while training. His teammate, Christoph Sauser, is partnering with last year’s Olympic Gold Medalist, Jaroslav Kulhavy for this year’s event under the team name Burry Stander SONGO. They proceeded to hammer the field this morning, opening a gap of 1:06 in just 55 minutes. As a comparison, Burry and Christoph took the prologue by just 13 seconds last year, but went on to win by 27 minutes. I have to believe that there were some emotions driving today’s action as Kulhavy pulled Sauser from line to line. Here’s an intro to the Cape Epic and this year’s race course.
Although MY first true mountain bike race won’t happen until the Yankee Springs Time Trial in late April, I’m beginning to ramp up the adrenaline and excitement.