Sport / 25 April, 2017

„Chasing the 100“ – The Need for Speed

The other day I was sitting on my road bike flying down Mirador on Lanzarote, part of the Ironman Lanzarote bike leg, and while tugged in on the top tube of my bike it suddenly hit me.

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Sport / 14 April, 2017

Cape Epic – The Lessons I’ve Learned

Cape Epic is not also a once in a lifetime experience (or maybe twice or three times depending if Epic’s spell pulled you in and you can’t fight the inner demons telling you to go back and do it all over again 🙂 ) I said it before in the summary (read it here) of the race, there is a lot of things to be learned from your first time at Cape Epic and a lot to be learned about yourself.

Faris Al Sultan, the 2007 Ironman World Champion said after his participation in the race that his top tip is the buy the best bike you can get your hands on, most certainly a very valid tip but there is so much more to take away from the race.

Equipment, there is not doubt, is a major part at Cape Epic and when looking around in the bike park in the morning there were more SRAM Eagle, more Rockshox RS1 and more carbon then I would have ever expected. The Eagle for example had just hit the market and it felt like the entire first stock was instantly bought out by Epic participants. The right choice of shoes, a fitting saddle, a bike geometry that fits your needs, the right electronic tools and so on are important but most important is to test it all before the race. I for example had a saddle that should have worked perfectly for me – theoretically – but it turned out to be a painful nightmare. I spent hours and hours testing the right set up for my bike. Where do I want my suspension lockout and where the levers, do I prefer to combine them in one clamp or separate them, do I want to ride my bike with dropper post or without. These are all things that needed to be tested, dialed in, calculated (weight versus comfort on dropper seat for example).

Here is a perfect example. My Simplon Cirex120 comes standard with 120mm travel front and rear and while Stefan loved that set up for his Cirex I started testing around and found out that I prefer it even a little more responsive. I reduced the air chambers down to 100mm internally, not externally as I didn’t want to change the geometry of the bike by dropping the fork. Finding the right set up here for me took hours and hours on the bike. Not because I didn’t like the factory set up which was brilliantly created already but because for an adventure such as Cape Epic I wanted the set up to be 110% to my specifications and not just 100%.

Some of the key elements I learned and took away from the race and from the months leading up to the race were:

1. Find the best possible equipment you can get your hands on. Cape Epic takes everything out of a bike.

2. Take proper time to test different set ups, equipment and gear. You need to be 100% comfortable with it and there is no reason to be satisfied with less than that.

3. Be smart in your choices. Weight savings do not always beat comfort or durability. Rims for example we opted for a slightly heavier but also slightly wider DT Swiss rim, as the wider rim carries better on loose sand or with the expect heat and the amount of dust we ate every day one of the best possible choices we made was carry a Camelbak on top of the frame bottles despite the added wait.

4. Don’t spend the money on a Cape Epic entry and buy all that equipment and then don’t spent the time learning how to handle your bike. We spent a couple of sessions with Biking in the Bosch (genius skill school in Stellenbosch if you are ever in South Africa) to learn exactly how to handle the bike and terrain. Another really smart move it turned out as no test riding could have prepared us for what Cape Epic threw at us but knowing how to properly handle the bike helped loads.

5. If you have the chance and time try and get a test race in on South African soil as it is very different riding to anywhere else. We opted for the 4 stage PE Plett 2 weeks before Epic and it gave us a brilliant feel for what it is like to ride in South Africa.

6. Choose your race partner wisely. Stefan and I spent 3 weeks before the race and the entire race laughing and basically spending every second together and didn’t have a single bad word for each other during the entire stay. We saw other teams not finish Epic simply cause they started hating their team partners under pressure and exhaustion.

7. Be smart and make a deal with yourself that you will listen to your body and your team partner and that you will race to your ability but also that you won’t give up easily as you are not riding for yourself but for your partner as well.

These are some of the things on the practical side to be aware off but also great was the things I learned about myself, about team racing and what body and mind can take.

1.  The body and mind can take so much more than I would have ever expected. Due to some issues before the race I ran into an absolute energetic low and feeling of sickness during stage 1 already down to a point that resembled exactly how I felt when I pulled out of Ironman Switzerland in 2016. This time however it was a team event and there was no way in hell I would let Stefan down, so I kept spinning those legs, staring at his rear wheel and pushing on until I actually started feeling remotely better 15km later. The body got better and better throughout the entire race.

2. I had a few situations that taught me more than ever before that the feeling of physical depletion can often really be my head and mind. We had a situation where I was leading down a 7km long single trail and just before the end of the single trail I though ‚boy, I am really, really tired. Good the trail is gonna end in a second and Stefan can take the lead‘ and about 5 seconds later I hear from behind ’number 1 (I had number 84-1, Stefan 84-1, hence the number 1 and number 2 as nicknames) I am really tired‘ and that sentence alone was enough to make the booster kick in and take charge and suddenly legs and energy were back because right that moment it was my turn to lead.

3. As much as I tried to keep it at a minimum during races I have done in the past there was always a bit of a thought of ‚what if‘. What if I didn’t have that cold during training, what if I didn’t have that flat tire in the race, what if I hadn’t lost my nutrition on th bike?‘ Well guess what: Nobody has a perfect preparation and only few have a perfect race. Yeah we had some small technical issues but others had severe crashes or major technical issues and at the end of the day I learned it doesn’t matter what happens, what ever happened was part of racing that day and yet we had a spectacular experience every single day.

The view of Hermanus from Rotary Drive as Stage 2 was shortened to 62 Km due to high temperatures forecast. Stage 2 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Hermanus High School in Hermanus to Botanical Gardens in Caledon, South Africa on the 21st March 2017
Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

 

You see, there is a lot to look out for when preparing and racing an event like Cape Epic or similar and a lot to be learned. I will write a more technical and bullet point oriented blog in the coming days about what to look out for and what equipment worked and didn’t work for us.

Until then, comment and share away and as always check out the latest pics from my travels and events on Instagram

Sport / 14 April, 2017

Cape Epic – Well, it’s Epic!

The Cape Epic is epic. I don’t have to tell you that. The name gives it away but just how epic it is showed the 8 days between March 19-March 26, 2017. The year that saw the first time in the history of the race that a stage needed to be shortened due to the extreme conditions. A race that would teach much just how much stronger than I though my head and body are.

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Till is Talking Blogs / 24 März, 2017

Cape Epic „Stage 5“ – When Athletic Death is Greeting Twice.

Stage 5 is going to be a fun one. Not an easy one but fun.” is what Kevin the race organiser said in the meeting yesterday and a hell lot of fun it was but it probably could have been even more if I hadn’t died twice today.

Right out of the gates the tank was empty – not ideal with 1000 meters of climbing in the first 25km but thanks to taking it easy and steady we could kind of still see the guys we usually ride with in the distance. After about 20km I started to feel a lot better and we enjoyed the hell out of a stage that had 34% single track. The bikes were dancing and so were our spirits until “boom” I died again at the 40km mark.

This one wasn’t fun. I was struggling on every little hill and my head went into sleep mode only to be woken again when hitting a tree with the handlebar and coming off the bike at KM60. A quick rush of adrenaline and suddenly I was wide awake. We flew through water point 3 with just a really quick refill of the bottles and I probably should not have mentioned to Stefan that I was feeling better as he apparently had the best legs of his Cape Epic yet and the race was on proper.

Those final 20km were probably some of the most joyful I’ve ever had on a bike. Flying past the other teams and flowing down some of the nicest single trails. Now the big question is – will we pay for it at the King Stage tomorrow? 103KM with 2700 meters of climbing.

We’ll see tomorrow.

Sport, teamvantastic, Travel / 19 März, 2017

Cape Epic ‚The Prologue‘ – Heat, Dust and Dehydration.

“We are standing in line, shaking hands with a few of the riders we know, answering a last questions but the head doesn’t process anymore, the head is in the moment. It is 9:33:15 and we have exactly 3 minutes until the gun goes off for he toughest MTB stage race in the world. The ABSA Cape Epic 2017….

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Sport / 18 März, 2017

Cape Epic – Time to Tame the Untamed

From crazy idea, to sign up, to training, it is all done. The lows, the highs and the nerves lived through. The countdown has begun and it is less then 16 hours to the start for the 2017 edition of the toughest MTB race in the world….

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Sport / 17 März, 2017

Garmin Social Ride before Cape Epic

Who ever thouth South Africans are fun…was right. What started off as ‚the team who constantly drafted our wheels at the PE-Plett 4 stage MTB race‘ (there might be some alternative facts build in ;-)) quickly turned into a new built friendship with Team Garmin SA. Sure it took Yolandi and Melt a dear while to trust us Garmin Europe boy cause even at Melt’s experienced age of 40 years, Stefan and I were the first funny Germans the two have ever met and would you trust a funny German if you were convinced for 40 years that they don’t exist. Didn’t think so.

After they beat us to the finish line at PE-Plett we decided to watch them closely on our ‚home turf‘ in Stellenbosch to turn the tables and #beatyesterday at Cape Epic starting this Sunday.

Enjoy our little video from a fun social ride „Team Garmin SA meeting Team VANtastic / Garmin Europe“ and if you don’t care for us, just enjoy the stunning scenery of the trails around Stellenbosch!

 

Sport / 14 März, 2017

Cape Epic – It’s On!

When I sat down with my now team mate Stefan about 8 months ago talking a big game and agreeing on racing Cape Epic together, neither of us really thought it would happen. We parted our ways that night and that was it until a few weeks later the thought was still burning holes in my brain and suddenly everything went real quick. Application sent, slot received, fee paid, bikes organized and then hell it hit is. This was the moment where talking a big game turned into a ‚damn now we need to follow up on it‘ realization.

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Sport / 29 September, 2016

Cape Epic – World’s Toughest MTB Race

“March 13, 2016. The sun is burning in the vineyards, the rotors of the helicopters are humming in the sky and the dry dust is settling on the lungs. In the fight between man versus mountain bike I am racing up the hills in my trail shoes trying to hit the first trail traverse before the top German Epic pros with Manuel Fumic, Tim Böhme and Karl Platt are flying by. When reaching the peak my heart is hammering in my lungs and the incredible views over Meerendal Wine Estate lying beneath me make me forget the pain and where I am for a second, before the ‘wup, wup wup’ of the helicopters suddenly pull me back into reality. Only seconds later Team Bulls 2 with Tim Böhme and Simon Stiebjahn are appearing on the horizon creating a majestic picture chased by media helicopters trying not to miss a single moment of this Epic prologue through the vineyards”

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Sport / 7 September, 2016

“Tech & Style“ at Eurobike

As a cyclist Eurobike feels like Santa Claus is allowing me to take a peak inside the holy halls of Christmas. Super exciting, yet totally overwhelming and there is not a snowballs chance in hell I can get to see everything I want in such a short period of time. At least that is what I imagine Santa Claus‘ ‚workshop‘ to look like. Let’s not argue if Santa is existing or not. Kids might be reading this as well.

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