The ABSA Cape Epic is the beast that leaves you feeling battered and bruised, but give it a few days or weeks (for some months) and you'll be ready to go back for more. For others, just crossing the finish line, seeing your family and friends, and the twinkle in your partners eye and you'll be thinking, "When do the early bird entries open?". 

2021 was my fourth ABSA Cape Epic - I know, theres definitely something wrong with me - but it was so special to do it with one of my best friends. We had laughs, tears and even some blood but we came out of it with an unbreakable friendship and a deep understanding of what it really means to us to ride our bikes. 

On the last day Cherise looked at me with tears in her eyes on the start line. I saw she wasn't just tired, it was more than that. I gave her a big hug and we sobbed in each others arms while the commentator was trying to create some "gees", not the best setting to be having a "moment". Cherise was overcome with emotion, remembering one of her last memories of her late husband Burry, was on the start line of the final stage. I looked over at Benno (Cherise's wonderful husband) and he too was crying. My eyes darted across and they were all in tears. Our families, our friends and our supporters. It's amazing to me how sport can surface the most intense emotions. We weren't just riding for us, we were riding for the memory of the incredible Burry Stander. 

Before I start full blown crying again, have a look at our stage highs and lows below: 

Day 1 - Prologue ✅
@taylorchick & @nickygiliomee had a blast today at the @capeepic prologue! Thanks so much for all the support along the route. This is why we ride 🚲

Day 2 - Stage 1 ✅
Some highlights:
- Nicky crashed (she’s ok) 🪨
- Rode over a snake (the snake is ok) 🐍
- Cherise nearly killed a chicken (but it escaped, narrowly) 🐓
- @freisina & @laura_stigger (who casually won the stage) gave us their podium flowers 💐
Also. We have come to the realization that we maybe should have done more technical training, or more of any training 😂
6 stages to go 🚲🤩

Day 3 - Stage 2
They don’t call her the Queen stage for nothing 🚲
Some highlights:
- We snacked at every water table, thanks @woolworths_sa 🤩
- We did a massive climb at the end but stoped for a second at the top to take in the incredible view
- Met some awesome people
- Got a photo with our hero’s @freisina & @laura_stigger (who won the stage and gave us their wine 🍷 🤩)
- Our bum’s are officially sore 🍑
The rocks broke our speed, but not our spirit! Tomorrow’s another big day before our “easier” day on Thursday. 🚲

Day 4 - Stage 3 🚲
Think we’ll say this was the real Queen stage. Some moments from today (not highlights 😂)
- The girls bunch had a big crash 15km in, we were lucky to not get caught up in
- Our friend Hayley Preen crashed and broke her arm. We could stop and give her a hug before she went to hospital. Hope you feel better soon 💗
- Cherise got stung by a bee 🐝 Nicky had to perform some roadside surgery to get the sing out
- Cherise also had a bush dive and we needed to perform some team work to get her out
- @tonyhara3 flew over our accommodation to say hi 👋🏻
We both agreed, today felt like war. Luckily we survived to fight another day. Thanks so much for all the messages of encouragement and support. And to our support team, we’d be lost without you. Thank you💗

Day 5 - Stage 4 🚲
So the “easy” day wasn’t so easy 😂. But we fought the cramps and made it to the finish.
Some highlights:
- Our friends @freisina & @laura_stigger welcomed us home with a cheer and flowers 💐
- We got to chat women’s cycling with the lovely @liezelonline
- There was some more forgiving terrain so we could have some “easier” km’s
- Our friend @slash8877 had beers for us at the finish 🍻
- We got a photo with the race leaders @mattbeers55 & @jordansarrou
- We had the Giliomee gang & @tonyhara3 out on the route today for extra support ✨
But, tomorrow is 84km with 2900 meters of elevation and 30ml of rain predicted while we’re riding 🥴🏊🏼‍♀️. We’re packing our flippers and goggles 🤿

Day 6 - Stage 5 🚲
The real-real Queen stage 🤷🏼‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️
Some highlights from today:
- Our French friend Emma said on the start: “The sky is not looking beautiful today” 😂🌧
- Both Cherise and Nicky hit their most meters of elevation ever on a single day ⬆️. 2900m!
- Cherise reckons we climbed all the way to heaven 👼🏻
- Definitely the best trails of the race so far. Thanks so the trail builders. We loved it! 🤩
- Some songs were sung when the going got tough 🎵 (Playlist available on request).
We’re excited for a bit of a sleep in and a slightly shorter stage (changes due to the storm currently passing 🌧). Bums are sore, but our spirits are high. Two days to go 🤩🤩🤩

Day 7 - Stage 6 🚲
By day 7, everything happens in slow motion 😂
Some highlights:
- We made it through the swim leg of the triathlon @capeepic 🐳
- We rolled in the mud 🐷
- We sang songs. Shout out to @martin_freyer for joining the choir 🎵
- We got to ride with the birthday boy @stefanomadies 🎂
- The spectators were awesome @zamalek_mtb_club 🙏🏻

Day 8 - Stage 7 

An unforgettable week with the best team 💜
We’ll wrap up tomorrow. For now, we’re going to put our feet up, drink some wine and eat some pizza.
We did it 🤩👯‍♀️. Thanks for all the kind messages, support and Honey orders 💗
Until next time... 

Written by Nicky Giliomee

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