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 / 17 März, 2017

Simplon Cirex120 – A First Bike Review

„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!

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Travel / 25 Oktober, 2016

Gloria Serenity Resort – A Turkish Paradise

“I am sitting on a plane, enjoying a fabulous curry chicken served by a Turkish Airlines chef who looks like he has been put here directly from the set of a French cooking movie. Taking a bite of the succulent chicken I am drifting off, imagining what to expect from my first trip to Turkey. Endless beaches, great country side, a never ending well of architecture and history and of course sunshine, the ocean and perfect training conditions at the Gloria Sports Arena. After all I am following the call of the Gloria Serenity Spa & Resort with it’s adjoining Gloria Sports Arena to find out if the name of the resort is program. Can a week in Turkey turn my lifestyle of insanity into a moment of serenity?”

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Sport / 6 September, 2016

Eurobike – ‚Culinary-Party-Coffee‘ Guide

Ahhh, the Eurobike. It’s like somebody is building a huge sandcastle in your backyard and you get to play all week long.

Fortunately and unfortunately at the same time to Eurobike every year turns into a little get together of people I haven’t seen in way too long and after the 7th spontaneous coffee date on day 1 I still didn’t make it out of the first hall in entered in the morning.

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Sport / 29 Juli, 2016

Project “Dream Bike“ II – The Touring Bike

Remember our TT-Bike bike built earlier in the season. ( http://talktotill.com/project-dream-bike/)  The goal was to build a super efficient racing machine based on the SRAM 1x. A groupset I had never ridden before. Since building the bike I raced races like 70.3 Aix en Provence and Ironman Lanzarote on that bike and fell in love with the 1x so much that we now decided to rebuild the touring bike with a 1x as well.

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Lifestyle / 11 Mai, 2016

The Wings for Life World Run

Another year, another Wings for Life World Run. Over 130.000 people world wide were signed up for what in my eyes is one of the coolest sporting events of the year.

I had the joy off being the MC for the event in Munich and the atmosphere on race morning was nothing short of inspiring. Runners from around the world had signed up to run in Munich and top athletes from different sports were mixing it up with your average joe runner as well as wheelchair athletes. Everybody came out to run for those who can’t run.

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Lifestyle / 5 Mai, 2016

Mercedes AMG – Horse Power Deluxe

It’s fathers day in Germany (yep, such thing exists. It is our sad excuse for guys without any right at home to go wild and do what they do best. Be noisy and get drunk :-))

So we figured since it is „boys week“ we’ll go and have a closer look at some proper toys for boys….

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Sport / 6 März, 2016

SRAM Force 1x – ‚Project Dream Bike I‘

SRAM Force 1x ( say ‚one by‘) – heard of it yet? Simple: Put one instead of 2 chain rings on your bike and you are good to go. NOT!

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Sport / 2 Oktober, 2015

Surf Tips mit Bernd Flessner II

Surfen baby, surfen! Das Board schnappen, ab ins Auto und den Wellen hinterher.

Wir haben den 16fachen Deutschen Meister und 3fachen Weltmeister im Windsurfen – Bernd Flessner – im Rahmen des Windsurf World Cup auf Sylt zur Mercedes Benz Surfgarage getroffen und seine besten Tips Auto beladen genauer unter die Lupe genommen.

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Lifestyle / 24 Juli, 2015

30 Years Gore Bike Wear – Inside Look

30 years of rain, mud and wind. Gore Bike Wear is celebrating its 30 year anniversary this year celebrating greatness in outdoor sports and cycling. Reason enough for us to take a little road trip down South to Bavaria where it all started to hear about the great story of 3 Gore engineers and cycling buddies who were stubborn enough to make the impossible possible.
Find out the story behind Gore Bike Wear and join us on our trip to the Gore Bike Wear headwaters, our trip into the ‘elements’ inside the experience center and take a fist look at the cool 30 year anniversary collection.
Happy Birthday Gore Bike Wear!
Here are more impressions from our Gore Bike Wear visit:
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