It’s 3 more sleeps until we drive down to Rhodes. One half of my computer screen is tracking Tweets and news from the ABSA Cape Epic and all my friends riding there, the other half is browsing Race to Cradock Google Earth tracks. I have been thinking a lot about the Epic as I have put in similar training to what one would have for Cape Epic, perhaps a touch less quality, but certainly the hours. The two events could not be more contrasted.
- The Epic has around 1200 participants that all start in one day, R2C has only 28 and we start over 4 days.
- The Epic covers 739km over 8 days, we’ll cover 600km over around 4-5 days.
- R2C is non-stop. At the Epic the clock starts and stops every day, at R2C the clock starts in Rhodes and stops in Cradock.
- The Epic has marked and manicured routes, R2C is self-navigated on 1:50,000 maps using compass, stars and the sun. No planning is required for the Epic, for R2C I spent as much time on navigation as I did on riding my bicycle.
- At the Epic you sleep in tents with Woolies food, at R2C you hardly sleep but you do get spoiled with farm hospitality. R2C has no waterpoints, just rivers, spaza shops and shebeens.
- The Epic has big bunches, we’ll be lucky if we see any of our fellow riders over 600km.
- At R2C we scale big mountains portaging our bicycles on our backs, at the Epic you only ride in the saddle. At R2C there is no race bag, you carry what you need on your back or on your bicycle or it stays at home.
- The two races are remotely similar yet could not be more different.
At R2C we go places where few will ever go, we see vistas that few will ever see, we ride and portage like few will ever do, we experience freedom like few will ever do. Riding on the Freedom Trail is unlike any other experience you will ever have and few get the privilege. At the Swazi Frontier 2014 I wore my Freedom Challenge Race to Rhodes race shirt with pride on the final night, hoping to secure some admiration :-). I asked fellow R2R riding mate Brad van der Westhuizen why he wasn’t also wearing his so we could show off in numbers. His reply has stuck in my head. He said those who weren’t there wouldn’t understand.
Only 3 more sleeps.