I didn’t race the Epic last year so I felt it was time to return again as it is a race that I really enjoy. The Epic course is 103 km long and takes a bit under 5 hours at a solid tempo. The race starts at Lake Tennyson around 1,100m above sea level at 8.00 a.m. before climbing up over Maling Pass, down the other side before heading down the Valley and following the Waiau River with 3 extensions up some of the other valleys to some quite beautiful spots!
This year they had to make some changes to the course, as due to heavy rain in the days leading in the Waiau River was flooded and we couldn’t cross it at the points originally planned. In the end the race was shortened down to around 80 km, and followed the St James Cycle Trail for most of the way before climbing up over Charlies Saddle and making our way to the finish at the St James Homestead. In previous years it had been clear but cold at the start but once the day wore on it really started to heat up in the big open valleys. However, this time it stayed overcast the whole day and never really heated up, which made more almost perfect riding conditions. The first 10 km were on a flattish gravel road which made for a nice cruisy warm-up with the bunch before we hit the first climb of the day up Maling Pass. I pushed a solid tempo up the first climb to get away and extended my lead on the following descent. From there I settled into a good training rhythm, taking in all the views and great trails, taking a comfortable win. First race and first win aboard the new bike! I chose the Procaliber and was really impressed with how it rode, with the big wheels floating over the rough stuff and the Isospeed decoupler making it very smooth whilst seated. I’m sure I’ll be back again soon!