This has everything to do with fishing. All dressed up with nowhere to go in the time of COVID-19…

Now that some of the dust has settled on the first ever Absa Cape Epic that saw no dust, I felt it was time to pen some words.

As I bash away at my keypad we would’ve been halfway through Stage One around Ceres. If the event hadn’t been Corona’d (although I hate to call it that as I’m a big fan of that cerveza) I’d have worked a full day the previous day on the Prologue as part of the official media team at UCT, and then put in some travel hours in the car after.

Right now I would be in the Media Centre receiving info from various sources out on the course and keeping the live ticker on the website flowing, feeding blow-by-blow race action to the outside world. I’d be getting photos sent live from the race photographers out on route and dropping those into the feed…

Once the men’s winners had crossed the line I’d sneak in a quick interview with winners and other protagonists and then get down to the business of producing a story on the day’s racing at the sharp end.

Alas, I’m typing this from my home-office desk and not from Ceres. Late Friday evening, race founder Kevin Vermaak and his team took the very difficult decision to cancel the race.

Was it the right call?

No doubt. No question.

It wasn’t just the right call, it was the only call they really could’ve made under the circumstances – for the safety of the riders, crew and staff… (full official statement here), but also for all the people with which the multi-national traveling circus that is the Epic, get in touch with. The race routes out to rural areas and comes into contact with many people in these remote areas. People who might not have easy access to medical care. For them, as for us, this could’ve been a fast-track to catastrophe.

I feel for the riders. I do. Having ridden the race twice I completely get the disappointment: Months of prep and countless thousands of Rands spent. Strain on relationships and juggling work and training, all to be left at the altar. However the ‘what-if’s’ of this bitch are far bigger.

I salute Kevin and his team for the tough call they had to make. *(They have of course since been vindicated with many other similar cancellations as well as the directives from Cyril’s Sunday evening briefing).

THIS HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH FISHING

Okay, formalities aside. This has everything to do with fishing. Well, also.

You see, my plan for this year’s event was to fish the route. It’s something I’d often schemed and dreamed about but have never quite been able to pull off. This year I’d promised myself I was going to make the most of the route and get some fishing done on the side. The 2020 route (different each years) really lent itself to this, so I packed 3WT through 9 (read my Horizon 9WT review in issue #20 of The Mission) in two-step increments, tidied up some trout boxes, tied a few new bass bugs, made sure I had stuff for carp and threw in the ‘default’ estuary box.

In the past I’d always had a smuggler’s 5WT setup and small freshwater box under the seat in the bakkie but days on this event are usually 12 hours at minimum, followed by cold Devil’s Peak lager and war stories with some of the other crew. It’s part of why we do it – it’s tough week of work but also a blast, the family vibes in the ‘bubble’ is part of why we all do it every year.

So, if I could pull off just three little sessions I’d have won. Here was the full plan though:

Prologue
We were to have a media briefing on Saturday morning, then I had some other last-minute errands and work to get done. From there I was going to hit Zandvlei for afternoon leeries, with The Devil’s Armpit as a backup for a bass or carp or two ala Feathers and Fluoro’s Nepptuna.

Ceres
This was to be home base for stages 1 and 2. I have friends who own a farm in the area, last I heard the bass pond was fishing well. There is also Eselfontein with its spectacular dam. The farm is also home to the source of the Berg. Then there were options on the Dwars which flows through town. And, of course there are the rivers further afield. Those (and the Clannies they hold) were a pipe dream however and I was under no illusions there.

Cape Epic

Eselfontein (c) Gary Perkin / Cape Epic / Sportspics.

Saronsberg, Tulbagh

We were to be there for three nights so I was eyeing this one as a definite. In fact it was the return to Saronsberg that sparked my fishing plan. The last time the Epic used this beautiful estate near Tulbagh as race village (2016) myself and Tudor Caradoc-Davies watched bass hunting in the lilies on two of the estate dams. Back then the esteemed Mr Caradoc-Davies was also on the content team, The Mission fly mag but a notion deep in his ginger melon. Whether you’re actually allowed to fish those dams, well that I was going to find out. What I do know is that the wine is ‘epic’ and the media centre is on the top floor of the cellar. I can smell (and taste) it now.

 

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#sportsphotography. Cant wait for the @capeepic 2020 starting in three weeks time. Its my 10th year being involved with this life changing race after I rode my first one in 2010. Super cool to cover and always some exceptional scene enroute!.. “The peleton is on the way during the 103km Stage 3 of the 2016 ABSA Cape Epic mountain bike race near Wellington, South Africa, 16 March 2016. The ABSA Cape Epic is often described as the ‘Tour de France’ of mountain biking and will see 1,200 riders racing over 652km in eight stages and 15,100m of climbing. UCI professional racers ride alongside amateur riders during the eight day long race.” @canonrsa @canoneurope @epaphotos #canonambassador #cyclingphotography #mtb #mountainbiking #westerncape #cyclingphotography #cyclingphotos

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Wellington
After Tulbagh we were scheduled to head to Wellington, the home of Dr Leonard Flemming, Feathers and Fluoro’s (semi) tame lab-coat. We were to be camped out there for three nights (at Cape Peninsula University of Technology’s Wellington campus). I was going to push the buttons of one Leonard, master of all things freshwater, but particularly carp. A sneaky session to one of this spots was on the cards.

Haven’t been on the Berg since this one. Which was also caught after a bike race.

Val de Vie 

The Grand Finale was once again scheduled for the beautiful lawns of Val de Vie. The idea was to finish up and perhaps get onto the embattled Berg to dust off the week.

Well, there you go. On to 2021…