Stage 3 and 4, which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, were a bit rough, with Thana being diagnosed with “compartment syndrome”, which is caused by the jerking of one’s arms on the handlebars on the descents. Typing isn’t exactly the best thing for that – so here’s an update from Willem.

 

Stage 3: Wednesday, 20 March

Today’s stage took us up and over the renowned Groenlandberg – which some call the Alpe D’Huez of the Epic. From when we left Oak Valley, it’s a slow and steady 34KM climb to reach the summit.

What was harder than the climbs today were the descents, as they test the upper body to the limit with the continuous strain on the hands, forearms, shoulders and neck. To make things worse – it was freezing cold up there and the constant drizzle made the track treacherous.

Thana climbed like a pro today, but she was in so much pain due to the relentless thumping on her forearms. The cold made it worse, so we decided to stop on some of the downhills to find some respite and allow her to process the pain. It was tough going from there, but, as usual, she came through with flying colours.

That is why I call her my little Viking! It was a huge ride that day kiddo and I have massive respect for you! ✊🏻🤗💞

The speed below gives you an idea of how tough the climbs are at 6,4km/hr.  We saw a chiro that night, who gave Thana new strappings and we just pray for it to dissolve over the next few days. She was in a tremendous amount of pain.

But she is tough… she inspires me and many here.

Stage 4: Thursday, 21 March

Stage 4 took us up and around Oak Valley for 42km with a 1000m ascent. It suited Thana, as she is no stranger to this course because she has competed here in the previous South African MTB Championships. She performed so well today – gliding up the climbs and flying down the many singletrack descents.

Below is Thana disappearing up one of the many switchbacks and an indication of the gradients; look at the trails contour relative to the horizon. 

For Stage 4, we took on what is referred to as the Queen Stage: 100km and 2850m ascent as we leave Oak Valley and head towards Stellenbosch.

The forecast showed warmer weather, so hydration and nutrition were key. Thana rode so well –  it’s pure joy flying down switchback single track behind her. She’s a far better bike rider than I am. What a privilege to share this life experience with a part of me. 👨‍👧⛰🚵🏻‍♀🚵‍♂💞

Thana here – sorry for my absence!

So today was fun especially because of the great single track and it was at least short. I’m struggling a lot with my forearms at the moment and feel a bit nervous for Stage 5, as the downhills are very difficult for me right now, but besides that, I’m enjoying the experience.

It’s great fun to ride with my dad and without a push here and there, I wouldn’t make the stages. The scenery and routes are beautiful and I’m enjoying the climbs as well. With three more stages left, I am so grateful to have come this far and look forward to a few more days of beautiful scenery and fun routes. 🚵🏻‍♀

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