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.
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 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….
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….
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!
„Get yourself the best possible bike you can get your hands on“ was the advice we received when signing up for Cape Epic and so we did with the Simplon Cirex120! After a few thousand kilometers, 2x 4 stage test races and just before Epic here is our first bike review of a bike that made us jump and shout all the way. The perfect weapon to go forward and fast and yet comfortable enough for multi stage racing!
After getting a slot for Cape Epic I had to make a decision. Try to be one of the wannabe cool kids and race Cape Epic without ever having done even a 1 day MTB race before or actually try to get an idea of what the hell I had gotten myself into. It wasn’t just that I had never raced a MTB race before I also never raced with my team mate Stefan before. I quickly decided that my cool days were over and that I should start acting age appropriate. At least for once. So after a little warm up on Lanzarote the 4 Stage PE-Plett MTB race from Port Elizabeth to Plettenberg in the Easter Cape of South Africa was our big moment to test the team dynamics, get a feel for what racing in South Africa will be like and really ride the equipment on the roughest terrain possible.
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.