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Drama, drama, drama. The 2015 Absa Cape Epic is here.

IMG_4851The route was leaked by a cloud server hack. We heard it dubbed the “Cape Town to Cape Town”. And, apparently, a rider who logged the media preview ride of the Prologue on Strava will never be able to ride the Absa Cape Epic again.

Ahead of the gala event to launch the route for the 2015 Absa Cape Epic there was nothing but drama. But then, this is the world’s greatest mountain biking stage race so (whether or not there’s any truth to these stories) we would’ve been surprised if there’d been no buzz at all. Continue reading

TeamHansgrohe 2015

Team Hansgrohe rider Robert Vogel has Amabubesi membership. Read about our other team members and their credentials

Team Hansgrohe rider Robert Vogel has Amabubesi membership. Read about our other team members and their credentials

Hansgrohe Africa enters our fourth official year as shower accessories sponsor for the ABSA Cape Epic 2015. We are proud to announce our new team to you. There are some old faces and some new faces in the teams for this year. There should be some friendly banter between the teams at the event, but before this, our riders will have to train hard to earn their spots in the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic which takes place from 15 – 22 March. Without further ado, here are the teams:

 Leon & David
This Joburg based duo have teamed up and are training hard for a good position in the Masters category. Having the right partner is everything and these two certainly are starting off on a good foot. We look forward to seeing how training in the thin air up in Johannesburg pays off when they are down in the Cape.

Dan & Shane
2015 will be the fourth Epic for Dan and each one has been a unique experience. Shane Turner joins Dan Forsyth for the first time in this Epic partnership. These two physically strong riders should be fun to watch as they both seem to have a somewhat light-hearted outlook to mountain biking – and I quote “every ride is like I am back in the sandpit ……. I just get to ride the toys now.” says Shane

Robert & Lara
Team Hansgrohe’s only mixed team, Robert Vogel and Lara Woolley are also a new Epic combo. Robert insists on riding with the ladies and I think it is because they push him up the hills – just kidding. Lara’s face is still new to us, but she is no stranger to mountain biking “When I am not at work, I am on my bike, balancing and de-stressing.” says Lara. Robert completed his third Epic in 2014, receiving his Amabubesi membershipA mixed team is always something special to watch, so keep an eye out for this team.

Wynand & Bryan
A totally new team was born this year into TeamHansgrohe. Strangers to each other, Wynand Schabort and Bryan Charters should bond over their common profession of architecture, but there will be no time for that during the race! As much as these two love their mountain biking, they should surely learn to love inter-city travel too as they reside about 1400km apart from each other – Bryan residing in Centurion and Wynand being a Capetonian. We are proud to be supporting these two gentlemen.

Well, now that we have introduced you to our four new teams for 2015, we will leave the judging up to you. Keep an eye out for the Route Launch for the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic, happening on 22 October. Read more about our team stats on the Team page.

Hansgrohe commended again by ABSA Cape Epic

The red carpet was out to welcome us to the awards evening.

The red carpet was out to welcome us to the awards evening.

On Tuesday 10th June 2014, the ABSA Cape Epic awards dinner was held at the Steenberg Golf Club. I was invited along with my manager, Sino and the agency, Derrick. I was unable to attend the day’s workshop which involved networking with sponsors and the new charities for 2015 ABSA Cape Epic. The evening consisted out of thanks and the awards dinner.

As race founder Kevin Vermaak said in his speech at the dinner, it was both humbling and flattering to associate with so many of South Africa’s leading brands.

Congratulations goes to:

• Hansgrohe and Miele for winning the Best Cross Marketing Award;
• Sasol for the Best Debut Sponsorship award;
• Absa for the Best Ride Guide Advert and Campaign award;
• Tracker and Oakley for sharing the Innovation Award;
• Yahsat for winning Founders Award;
• And last, but certainly not least to Woolworths, who walked away with the Best Sponsor Service Award for the second year running.

I am very pleased that we walked away with the Best Cross-Marketing Award for the second year in a row. It felt like a bit of an after thought last year as we do not get a physical award, but this year, competing against all the other brands and with a trophy up for grabs, it felt like the Oscars.

The Steenberg Golf Club made a wonderful venue – not cold at all as I thought it would be as it chilly winter now and it had been hailing the day before. John Smit (Current Sharks CEO) made a wonderful speech and it was indeed astonishing to hear how someone such as himself could still make the time for the training that is required. He said that he was ashamed to say he had never trained so hard in all the years of his training during his rugby career.

I am looking forward to next year’s ABSA Cape Epic as you are guaranteed that each year gets tougher, but better. The route for the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic will be launched on 22 October 2014. I can’t wait to see what exciting obstacles there will be for next year.

ABSA Cape Epic with John smith and Kevin Vermaak

Team Hansgrohe: again riding for a good cause

Matthew Daneel in the final moments of the Cycle for Life

Matthew Daneel in the final moments of the Cycle for Life

Cycle for life 009 - Copy

The Somerset House school hall comes alive when Cycling for Life with Helderberg Hospice

Team Hansgrohe is always happy to climb onto their bikes – any excuse really! But what better cause than for charity. On 24th May, Team Hangrohe riders Dan Forsyth, Duane Searle and Matthew Daneel climbed onto their stationary bikes for a 12 hour long ride for Helderberg Hospice – Cycle for Life.

The Cycle for Life was held at Somerset House Primary School on 24th May in order to raise funds for the Helderberg Hospice. Helderberg Hospice offers care and support to those living with cancer, HIV/Aids, Motor Neurone Disease and any end-stage illness. CP&B in conjunction with Hansgrohe has supported this noteworthy cause in previous years and warmed their seats for a period of 12 hours on a rainy Saturday.

Many other teams join this cause every year to raise funds and upon visiting the site at 17:30, it was an atmosphere of fun, friends and funky tunes. Each team gets to choose some music that they feel will keep them going as for some, starring at the concrete floor is a little bit different to the great outdoors – this event makes it clear as to why the mountain bikers are a different breed to that of the “roadies”.

 

There are always plenty of refreshments and foods available for the riders and their supporters as well as entertainment in the form of big screen TVs. Team Hansgrohe rode their hearts out and finished with the second most mileage racked up for the day – a whopping 895km. Well done Team!

Hansgrohe taps into the Transbaviaans

Wayne Denysschen (left) & Louis Naude (Right)

Wayne Denysschen (left) & Louis Naude (Right)

Hansgrohe Africa has sponsored the shower accessories for the past three years for the ABSA Cape Epic event and has since then received mounting requests for sponsorship of the shower area for other events as well as other forms of sponsorship, including ABSA Pride Rides and now the sponsorship of two avid mountain bikers from On Tap Jeffreys Bay in the Transbaviaans MTB race.

We can now hear from Louis Naude, who is also a runner, about his experience in this MTB race.

“Mountain biking is a very popular sport in this part of the world due to the excellent country routes around Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Patensie, Loerie, Gamtoos and Hankey. Our Country roads has also proven very safe to date. Touch wood.

My name is Louis Naude, owner of On Tap Jeffreys Bay. Our regular customers are Builders and Plumbers, and many of them are keen Mountain bikers (AND Hansgohe fans, off course). The famous Transbaviaans 230 km, “toughest single stage MTB event in the World” also ends in Jeffreys Bay, making J/Bay not only famous for its excellent surfing, but more and more also for its mountain biking. See http://www.transbaviaans.co.za/. It takes place on 16 August 2014.

I have always been a jogger, having done numerous marathons such as the Knysna Forest marathon, the Kilimanjaro marathon and the Comrades ultra-marathon. Biking just looked more fun, so about two years ago I joined the local group on their early ride on Saturday mornings. Now I never jog anymore.

We even have a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/479723698799887/

So far I’ve done the Karroo to Coast, Tsitsikamma MTB Challenge and the Jeffreys Bay MTB Open.

Wayne Denysschen is a Plumber in Jeffreys Bay. He lived in England for a number of years where he enjoyed mountain biking immensely. He quickly joined the local MTB fraternity when he moved to Jeffreys Bay. Wayne completed the Transbaviaans last year in an excellent 12 hours 15 minutes. He has also done numerous other races in the area, including the extremely tough Attakwas Extreme 121km (total ascent 2900m) from Oudshoorn to Great Brak River. See http://www.atta.co.za/.

This year Wayne and I entered the Transbaviaans!! It is a team event. Two, three or four people per team. Wayne and I are proudly entered as the Hansgrohe Team.

Before the Transbaviaans we have enter a few races for training, the first being the Tsitsikamma on 12 April. Then there’s also the Jeffreys Bay MTB Open in July, which runs concurrently with the International Billabong Surfing Championships.

After Transbaviaans we would love to do the PE Plett, a 3 day event in September, as well as the To Hell and Back in Gamkaskloof in November. It’s a 2 day event.

I’m only 54 this year, and Wayne is 34, so we have many more years of MTB ahead! Thanks very much Hansgrohe for showing so much interest in our sport.”

Wrapping up the ABSA Cape Epic 2014

Duane and Dan come in spot on 4 hours

A sense of elation washes over the riders as they cross the finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate. Well done to all!

Annually, Hansgrohe Africa joins forces with the Absa Cape Epic as the official shower accessories sponsor. Currently in its third year running, all the riders and crew members who partake in the exhilarating eight day event have the pleasure of using the shower trucks at the end of a long day. The Hansgrohe shower trucks are equipped with EcoSmart overhead showers to ensure a 75% water saving.

Says Anthony Mederer, managing director of Hansgrohe South Africa, “The Absa Cape Epic is the most amazing mountain bike race in the world and we are thrilled to be a part of the action again. One of our main objectives other than providing the riders with a shower at the end of each stage – was to illustrate how using the EcoSmart overhead showers could save water on a big scale event without jeopardising the quality of the showers, but still heightening the experience.”

Hansgrohe prides itself on its eco showers as there is no compromise on shower pleasure. The EcoSmart shower has a 3:1 ratio of air and water ensuring water consumption is cut dramatically.

Riaan Binneman, logistics manager of the Absa Cape Epic, explains: “In the past, the water for the shower trucks would need to be replenished three to four times per day to ensure every rider gets a shower at the end of each stage. This has been minimised and only requires one refill, making our logistical load lighter and the showering process easier for everyone involved.”

Hansgrohe South Africa is also a proud sponsor of four rider teams at the Absa Cape Epic made up of Amanda Brookes, Robert Vogel, Dennis Mack, Dudley Turner, Desmond Smith, Leon Tobias, Dan Forsyth and Duane Searle.

Robert Vogel who is the main spokes person for the TeamHansgrohe blog, had some comments on the event as a whole. Hind sight is 20-20 of course.

“The Epic has an “afterglow” that lingers for quite some time, so it’s never a matter of just moving on.

There were all kinds of people that followed our progress during the race, it’s actually quite amazing. From direct family and close friends, all the way to business connections and people you haven’t seen or heard from in years. The reach of the Cape Epic goes well beyond the mountain biking community, evident by the characters that come out of the woodwork to congratulate you on your achievement.

The personal sense of achievement is immense. You test yourself against the terrain, elements and the rest of the field. Everyone has their own personal goal for the Epic. Whether it’s just to finish, place on the podium or somewhere in between. When you achieve that goal, it’s the best feeling ever.

Amanda and I set ourselves a goal. We wanted to finish in the top 10 of the Mixed category. We had no idea whether we would make it, we just put our heads down and gave it our best shot.

We spoke about our approach to the race and even though we wanted to do well, the one thing we agreed on as well, was that we would have a good time trying. We worked well as a team, there was never a word spoken in anger. We both knew we would give 100%, always with a smile on our face and always supportive of each other.

What did I learn from riding the 2014 Cape Epic?

  1. You have to accept the choices you made before the start of the Epic.
  2. Be open and honest with your partner.
  3. Communicate as much as you can.
  4. Don’t blame your partner, you’re in this together.
  5. Stick to your game plan at the start of the race and only change it once you’re a couple of days in and feeling strong.
  6. Ride consistently and you will move up the field.
  7. Make friends along the way, it’s great for morale.

I had great partner, fantastic support from my wife and a great team to ride with. Hansgrohe was a supportive and generous sponsor and the values the brand represents are in tune with why I like to ride my mountain bike.”

This is not goodbye and indeed it is not as the excitement has already picked up for Epic 2015! Can you believe it?

Stage 7: Oak Valley to Lourensford. 69km. 1800m of climbing

galleryof riders LF

The final day has come and gone again, and I can hardly believe it. As usual, the day was very festive at Lourensford Wine Estate. We welcomed all of our riders home with our arms wide open. First in, spot on 4 hours, was Dan and Duane, followed shortly thereafter by the remainder of our rider: Robert & Amanda; Leon & Desmond and Dudley & Dennis. Anthony and Kate Mederer joined us on this final momentus day and were happy to chat to Vanessa Haywood and some other famous celebs in the ABSA Hospitality tent. Can you hear the sound of shoulders rubbing together?
Hansgrohe again offered the ShowerZone to all the day riders and runners of the Liqui-Fruit day races and also had live demonstrations of showers whilst gathering votes for the Dirtiest Rider.
Hansgrohe is very happy with the performance of our riders. Just to complete the ABSA Cape Epic, is a major feat.
Lets now hear from Robert Vogel how the final day went for him and Amanda.

Dudley Turner (left) & Dennis Mack (right)

Dudley Turner (left) & Dennis Mack (right)

“The final day of the Cape Epic had dawned, albeit a little wet. Amanda and I had made it this far without a major incident. Not a puncture, mechanical or fall. We were tired and the legs were sore, but we were amped to get to the finish at Lourensford.

We set off at 8:10am in the second start group of the day, heading out of the race village and straight up a long drag. I got up out of the saddle to pedal and it felt like my legs were going to buckle! The muscles were cold and hurting and I was a little concerned whether I was going to suffer today.

We got to the “Concrete Strips” were my wife and daughter and a whole bunch of familiar faces were cheering all of us on and then headed up the “Old Pass”. Crossing the tar road (to Villiersdorp), we began the long climb to the top of Nuweberg.

Fortunately, the legs were warm now and feeling ok, so I got behind Amanda and gave her a push here and there. She was looking strong and we began making good progress once we had descended Nuweberg on the other side.

At the bottom of the pass we turned into the Shapenberg single track which took us further down the mountain in flowing twists and turns through bush tunnels and pine forest.

A quick bottle refill at water point 2 and we had to climb up some single track into a maze of switchback trails. The line of riders went back and forth between the trees and as we climbed higher, one could take a quick look to see how close the other mixed teams were. Lucky for Amanda and I, there were none in sight and we knew now that unless we suffered a mechanical, our Top 10 spot was safe!

Anthony Mederer (left), Dan Forsyth (centre) & Duane Searle (right)

Anthony Mederer (left), Dan Forsyth (centre) & Duane Searle (right)

We entered Vergelegen at the top of the hill and I caught a brief glimpse of the race village. From here it was almost a straight run home. We entered Lourensford farm and ducked into a single track which was fun to ride, but the focus was firmly on the finish less than 5km away. We carried on riding hard, having passed another mixed team as well as one of the Top 10 ladies teams. Amanda was looking like she had “White Line Fever”, her head down, legs pumping on the pedals. She was as keen as me to get to the finish.

We hit the gravel road leading on the polo field at pace and were greeted by a phalanx of people, clapping and waving. Turning the final corner we saw the finish line ahead and a few seconds later we were done. Cape Epic completed!

Amanda and I hugged each other, thrilled with the way we had ridden as a team. She rode so well all week, sucking up the pain when the going was tough and relishing the remote trails we were privileged enough to ride. Amanda was a great partner to ride with and her positive attitude won her many friends along the trails.

Well done to the other 3 Hansgrohe teams that also completed this year’s Cape Epic. It was fantastic to be part of the team and Amanda and I are both grateful for the opportunity afforded us.”

Stage 6: Oak Valley to Oak Valley. 85km. 1800m of climbing

Rider Dining  Marquee 29 March 2014

Rider Dining Marquee 29 March 2014

No surprises today, but a little bit of sadness as I realise it is the last “shower day” of the Epic. We had a steady stream of riders in from 12:00 until 17:00 and then it was time to prep for the dinner that evening. This time around, instead of having our riders at the dining marquee, we decided to host a party of Architects from Boogertman, Louis Carol and Kevin Engelbrecht Studio. Hansgrohe and its Team Riders handed over a cheque to Cape Leopard Trust (Helen Turnbull) for the amount of R 20 000. Hansgrohe is happy to support this worthy cause.
On another note, all the locations have been completely crawling with crickets – everywhere! We had loads of fun warding off the crickets as they flew into us all the time, whilst trying to shield our food. Besides this, I think we all had a good time and ran off into the rain as we were the last one to leave the marquee at 21:00 – hehe.

We can now hear from Robert Vogel on stage 6 of the ABSA Cape Epic.

“We were definitely feeling the last couple of days riding in our legs, but thanks to our brilliant Physio, Melanie, we seemed to find some new life in those pins of ours today. Amanda and I both know the Elgin Valley well and it really helped to know where we were going and what lay in wait around the corner. Today was going to be a rollercoaster ride. Up and down, on smooth and fun single track, with a bit of climbing thrown in for good measure – whop, whop, whop, Epic-style.

I had developed a bit of a bum sore which meant a visit to the Bum Clinic before the start. I wasn’t the only one in need of some TLC and once I was taped up, I had to literally run to get to the start chute in time.

We started at the back that wasn’t ideal, but Amanda had been ill overnight, so it was probably best to get rolling at a more sedate pace.

Our Mixed competition had other plans and were going out hard which necessitated some damage control. I left Amanda to ride at her pace and warm up and I rode ahead to keep tabs on the other 2 Mixed teams.

The route crossed Oak Valley farm, heading for Paul Cluver and then on to Houw Hoek Inn. The single tracks on the way are well known to us and settled in to a steady rhythm, keeping the other Mixed teams in sight.

We got to water point 1 quickly and decided to push on and not stop. We carried on along the old N2 road to a tunnel under the current N2, in order to get to the other side of the valley. The route took us through a pine forest up to the old missile testing station at Houwtec.

It’s a bit of a surreal place. Built in the middle of pristine fynbos on top of a hill, the buildings are scattered over a relatively large area, connected with wide tar roads. As we cycled past one of the buildings, I imagined the engineers flicking a switch and firing up a secretly built rocket engine.

We carried on along a contour jeep track, eventually dropping down to the valley floor, before climbing a steep hill up to water point 2.

One of the Mixed teams was still with us, but the steep hill gave us an advantage as were the better climbers and Amanda and I got a nice gap over a relatively short distance. A quick change of bottles and a wave to some familiar faces and we set off to climb even higher up the hill to eventually reach the Lebanon trail network. This was our first taste of a long single track section and we flew down the trails, before leveling out and getting to the second culvert under the N2 to take us back to Thandi and on to Paul Cluver and water point 3.

Approaching water point 3 , it was evident that there were a lot of spectators cheering on all the riders. Paul Cluver farm have build a “bike park” around their amphitheater with hanging bridges, berms and elevated tracks. It was amazing to ride into the amphitheater and be greeted and cheered by some many people. Another quick stop and we set off to tackle the last 25km home, back to base.

We rode some amazing ravine single track, up one side of the back and across to the other side. Almost like a skateboard half pipe. Brilliant! At this point we were caught by another Mixed team which were no real threat to our Category position, but we decided to keep them close, just to be safe. Once out of the single tracks , we climbed up a couple of steep “little” hills, heading back Oak Valley. More fast and flowing single track followed, before we were hit with another longish climb to the top of the farm, form where we ducked into another river single track, flying along, eager to get to the finish.

This time there were no more nasty surprises and we followed the single track all the way to the finish line where we were pipped to the post by the other Mixed team.

There is a lot of respect for each other when we ride out there (and we ride hard),but at the finish line it’s hugs and handshakes all round. With a couple of Woolies milkshakes downed, it off to the Hansgrohe ShowerZone to wash the dust off and begin the recovery part of the day.

Amanda and I can almost smell home now. We will ride safe and keep and eye on the competition, but take no unnecessary risks. The finish at Lourensford beckons.”

Stage 5: Greyton to Oak Valley. 110km. 2900m of climbing

The route along the R406

The route along the R406

Today was a long day for the riders and for us. We were waiting and waiting for the riders at the ShowerZone after rushing off to there this morning from Greyton to Oak Valley to be in time for them.  A new location, so I was again worried about the setup. On the way there, we saw why it was recommended not to take the R406 towards the N2. We saw the snakes of riders crossing the road ahead of us at the road block.

As we got to the ShowerZone, we orientated ourselves and sat and waited. Where are they? we thought…. The masses arrived at about 14:00 straight through to 18:00. A lot of hectic uphills and it was hot out there, they told us.

So, lets hear from Robert about his and Amanda’s Stage 5 of the ABSA Cape Epic.

“We’re on the move again, another race village waits. But to get here, we had to fight our way over some big spikes on the route profile. It was a hell-of-a day!

Our legs are feeling heavy at this point in the race and to get going in the morning is taking quite a bit of effort.

We set off at 7:10am into a cold and misty Greyton morning, on our way to Oak Valley farm in the Elgin valley. We started with the usual fare of district roads and groups were quickly formed to try and make quick work of the dusty gravel roads.

My legs were hurting 15km into the stage, but I was trying to keep a fast pace going to shake off some of our rivals in the Mixed category. I was quietly hoping to myself that I wasn’t burning myself out too soon. Amanda was behind me in her usual position, hopefully using me as a “rabbit” to chase.

The first big climb of the day came soon enough and cresting the hill, I could see the Groenlandberg looming in the distance: farm roads turned into purpose-built single track, especially for the Cape Epic. It was amazing to see the effort that was put in, literally in the middle of nowhere. One would almost have to come back at a later stage to really savour these flowing tracks.

Water point 1 was reached and after a quick bottle refill (it was getting hot), Amanda and I set off down the district road, heading for the big climb of day. I pointed it out to the group as we rode along and there were groans all round.

To start us off for the day, we had to ride out the “Serengeti climb”, a steep loose climb that quickly split the bunch. I waited for Amanda to catch up (the climbing legs had come back) and in front of us was the “Rusty Gate” climb – the “Big One” for the day as far as I was concerned. It’s a gravel road, so not technically difficult at all, but the gradient increases as you get higher and higher and there aren’t any flat parts. It’s just one long uphill and I tried my best to help Amanda with a push here and there to get the team to the top as quickly as possible.

Two of our rival Mixed teams were with us as we started the climb, but soon dropped off the pace. Amanda did well and put her head down and got the job done.

Eventually we got there and had time to catch our breath before descending into a high valley and then further down to water point 2. The heat was getting to us and we got there just in time before we were both running on empty.

We were making good progress, despite the slow going up the hills, but we get closer to home, there was still the “Nek” to deal with. And we had to get there via drops into stream beads and up on the other side. One climb felt like it was hitting the 20% mark. In and out of the valleys with torturous climbs wasn’t good for the psyche, but we focussed on getting to water point 3 , after which it was 15km to go.

The climb to the Nek was tough as far as the gradient and surface was concerned, but it just didn’t want to end! About two thirds of the way up, I started to hear classical music and saw a weird, tepee-like structure in the veld. It was really there, what a bizarre moment! A welcome distraction from the legs begging to stop pedalling and just sit down next to the trail. Over the Nek and we were pretty much done for the day.  No more surprises, just a few more “bumps” to climb and the pit-stop at Oak Valley appeared around a corner, and not a minute too soon.

That was a hard day in the saddle and my bum was feeling it. After a welcome visit to the Hansgrohe Shower Zone where I hung my head under the cold shower for what seemed like ages, I went to visit the Bum Clinic to get sorted out for tomorrow morning. A course of antibiotics will hopefully do the trick for tomorrow and after.

Amanda did really well today and I am proud of my partner for hanging with me all day. 2 more sleeps and we’re racing for home!”

Stage 4: Greyton to Greyton. 88km. 1850m of climbing

Rider bike in handI found myself wishing it rained today as the sun beat down on me as I welcomed a whole lot of riders in at the finish at stage 4 of the ABSA Cape Epic. I was in awe of the rider who ran accross the finish line carrying his bike – this is pure determination. I was naturally waiting for the Hansgrohe Teams to come over the line, but it seems I was only in time for Dudley Turner and Dennis Mack. They came over the finish line with smiles on their faces. After greeting them , I headed back for the ShowerZone to catch some more dirty riders, who to tell the truth were far too clean! Tomorrow is move day again, which means we need to adjust the setup once again to the new environment at Oak Valley – every stage has its challenge, but who am I to say? Lets hear from Robert about how he found the day.

TeamDudley&Mack“The day started overcast with a slight drizzle and no wind. Ideal riding conditions as far as I was concerned. A friendly little climb from the start line to the district road and a friendly reminder from my legs that we had been riding for 4 days already. It was starting to feel like the Cape Epic now; the legs were sore and needed about 30 minutes to warm up.

The route criss-crossed farmland on single track and included a nice switchback climb to the top of a koppie. The single track is great to ride on any day, there’s no need to keep tabs on where your mates are. But when it’s the Cape Epic and 1200 riders riding the same trails, you quickly lose track of where your partner is.

For the Cape Epic, I attached a small bell to my handlebar. Initially, I thought I’d use it to let slower riders know we were coming though. But, it turned out to be the ideal communication tool between Amanda and myself. Instead of calling her name to find out whether she was close behind, 2 sharp rings of the bell and she would call. “I’m here”.

TeamDudley&DennisThere were no big climbs do deal with yet, so the pace was still quite high as we all settled into our “slots” in the field. As the race progresses, one tends to settle into a position and stay there. Teams around you become “riding buddies” for the week and it creates a sense of familiarity as we all suffer together.

We left the farm tracks and hit a district road to water point 1. This time Amanda didn’t stop while I grabbed some apple slices and marshmallows. The route took us into a kloof and as the vegetation opened up, there in front of us was a rather large hill with a train of riders inching their way to the summit. The track ramped up and we were down to granny gear, trying to hold our line and get traction on the back wheel as we backed up on to the slower climbers. From the top had a superb view over the village of Greyton and single track that followed was sublime.  

We crossed the tar road to Caledon before another district road, clearly routing us to the Mission town of Genadendal. We rode as hard as we could , knowing the flat road was where other Mixed teams were stronger and we wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as possible. There are some great single tracks in the area and we got to ride most of them, before we reached water point 2 in the Greyton Main Road.

Robert Vogel about to enjoy a shower

Robert Vogel about to enjoy a shower


Another fast stop and we were off to deal with the final 20km of the route. Having ridden in Greyton many times, I had some idea of what was in store for us in the latter parts of the race.

We followed the Gobos River for a few hundred meters, before crossing to the far bank and the start of another tough climb to the top of the hill overlooking the village. Over the other side we went and turned sharp right into the “Bone Shaker” single track. This was followed by another section of fast flowing single track, before we turned left and right through another field, crossed a jeep track and veered sharp left up a beast of a climb. I know this climb well and my ego said I had to ride it out, no pushing allowed. I waited (and recovered) for Amanda at the top and we made short work of the trails that followed to reach our final water point for the day. I am accustomed to Amanda being faster through the stops than me, but this time I almost left her behind. I had the MC calling over the mike, reminding me to wait for my partner.

The last 12km were fast with the odd climb thrown in to keep us honest. Coming around the corner, I saw a hill with a house perched on top and I knew that we were going there. There is a beautiful single track that starts at the top of the hill (this single track is on the farm Lismore and is worth a visit when you come to Greyton for a more

Amanda Brooks joyous for her shower

Amanda Brooks joyous for her shower

relaxed weekend of riding). The climb to the top was short, but very steep, made worse by the fact that we had been riding for hours already.

The descent through the forest was worth it though and once we exited, there were no more surprises. We crossed the line, happy in the knowledge that we had ticked off another day of the Cape Epic.

The sun was out, it was warm and we were dusty and ready for a shower.

No queues as we walked into the Hansgrohe ShowerZone, just a friendly smile and a soothing jet of warm water. Reset the body to zero and we start again tomorrow.

Feels like Groundhog Day!”