The Cape Epic is a Mountain Bike Race, with a great inspiring name conjured up by the organisers. Little did they know that it would become superfluous, because 5 years later all you need to say is “The Epic” and that’s enough to raise an eyebrow.
If I was betting for real money I’d say that only 25% of the people who visit this blog will be able to complete it – it’s that hard!
In such a short space of time word has spread especially amongst everyday people who don’t even ride a bike. It is amazing how widely the story has travelled and how it has created a common purpose for non cyclists who know an Epic rider.
The Cape Epic was the first ever stage race in South Africa. Despite the luke warm reception from some skeptics the race started off well in its first year and just got better from there on. Subsequently many smaller stage races emerged, and it is arguable that the Epic has created the new stage racing market. But the Cape Epic remains the ultimate challenge and the benchmark.
The level of competition at the Cape Epic has been increasing every year. This is evident from the level of competition at the front of the field as well as the increasing speed of the mid pack and the increased level of preparation of the back markers.
As more and more people discover the magic of completing such a tough event they realise just how the impossible suddenly becomes achievable. To rub shoulders with the worlds best riders were an interesting dynamic of mutual respect emerges. Back markers wonder in awe how the pros manage to race at average speeds exceeding 30km/h and finish by mid morning. Meanwhile the pros show great admiration for the courage and endurance of the backmarkers who spend over 8 hours a day in the saddle, day after day.
The start at Knysna seems surreal as you can no longer contain the energy, nerves and anticipation of getting on the road. For 8 days and over 900km you will ride from water point to water point, town to town and day to day until you arrive in Lourensford. The first days seem impossible the middle days blur and the final days pass too quickly.
For some once is enough, others would love to be back and then there are a few who return year after year. Wiser stronger and better prepared, it never gets easier just more challenging.