4:45, the alarm clock rings. I sleepily look for the off switch and lie there for another ten minutes. Then I have to get up. With difficulty I climb out of my tent. Shortly thereafter, I am on my way to breakfast with my brother Sebastian. The choice is great. We load our plates and muesli bowls, take the first available table. A wrong decision as it turns out. When we sat down, a horde of bugs attacked us. After a short fight we admit defeat and switch tables. Half an hour later we are back at our tents to get ready to race.
I can't get out of the kink at all. It takes forever to put on my cycling gear. We also have to pack our bags today, because today we are moving for the third and last time. I'm trying to clear the clutter in my tent. In the end, I just stuff almost everything in my bag. To make matters worse, the battery in my lamp is now empty. In the semi-darkness I try to find my toothbrush, which of course I've already packed away. My brother has meanwhile got our bikes from the bike park.
Because of my loitering, we're late. We quickly stick the altitude profile of today's stage on the top tube, hand in our bags and head to the start. We're pretty far back in the second block. Shortly before the start, I realize that I haven't put on any sunscreen - a serious mistake. It's still cold and foggy, but that will change quickly. It's the king's stage of this year's Cape Epic - 110 kilometers and 2900 meters of altitude difference are ahead of us. For the last 2 days we've been trying to take it easy as I'm driving completely underground. Unfortunately, that didn't work. Today we're going full throttle right from the start. We stayed in the leading group for almost an hour, which still consists of around 20 teams at this point. Then I have to let go and Sebastian is waiting for me.
As every day, there are three refreshment points along the route, where you can get plenty of food and drink. We also have the chain oiled here, which always runs pretty rough again after just a few kilometers. This is due to the fine dust and the numerous water crossings. Overall, the tracks here are very tough. There are almost no slippery passages to rest. The fact that we are traveling with hardtails doesn't make things any easier, especially since our forks have only been dummies since the rainy third day. A fully would definitely be nice. My entire upper body is now completely exhausted. You have to try to somehow hold on to the handlebars on the descents. But I'm definitely not the only one here.
Shortly before the end of the stage we meet some free-roaming cows. Of course, one of them takes a run-up and attacks a red-clad Spaniard driving directly in front of us. The torero skilfully jumps off his bike at the last second before the cow rams his bike with full force. Surprisingly, the latter remains intact. Revenge failed.
After almost 6 hours we finally reach the finish as 41st and sit in the shade for now. The sun is around 35°C and there is almost no forest along the entire route. So I'm glad that I got sunscreen at the second refreshment point. After a short refueling we go to take a shower. I just finished cleaning up the leftovers from my packed lunch. Now I'm going to lie down first and then fill up on at least the rest of the approximately 6000 kilocalories that we consume here every day at supper. The last two stages are much easier on paper. But who knows where the organizers will send us again.