Tom Ritchey sent us a very detailed recap from the first few stages of the 2013 Cape Epic.
As you may know from previous updates, Tom is partnered up with Alex Stieda. Alex was the first American to wear the Yellow Jersey during his Pro Tour days. He's finished well in many of the hardest road races around the globe, yet has little experience with Mountain Biking. Having this in mind, Tom knows Alex can endure some of the hardest suffering and chose him to partner with in confidence.
The racing has been tough for the pair. During a particularly sandy section, Tom and another rider collided and Tom came out with a gash on his shin that required 14 stitches.
Another poor card was dealt when Tom cut his tire's sidewall. A cut that measured about 1 full inch! With very little guys racing on the 650b wheel size, Tom didn't have many spare tire options. After some brainstorming, Alex and Tom booted the tire with a space blanket they were able to get from one of the medics on an ATV. This got the pair up and running again...Tom with only about 25psi to finish out the remaining 40K of the stage! Unfortunately, they lost about 30 minutes due to this setback. Tom now swears he will always carry a space blanket with him as an emergency boot!
The heat has been HIGH! High heat and dusty conditions have made hydration a very tough challenge to the race, especially when these stages have been clocking in at 6-hours.
The course has been several fast farm roads (double track) linked together by technical singletrack...over and over... Add in the hundreds of riders and dusty conditions and you have a very treacherous course. Tom fell victim to dust blindness when his pedal caught a large, exposed root and sent him flying. This was a nasty crash that took some time to recover from, but Tom and Alex pushed on. They lost an unfortunate 10 minutes that likely cost them a podium spot on the day.
This update from Tom covers the action from stages 1 - 5 of the 7 stage race.
After 7 grueling stages, several flat, crashes and heat issues, Tom and Alex finished the race in 6th place! Their total ride time was 39 hours, 48 minutes and 51 seconds... Full report coming soon.