Picking up the Epic Pace

Grabouw 1Team Hansgrohe is now at peak training capacity! Robert is riding almost every day and describes some more of the terrain you can be expecting from the Elgin Valley area.

“I can feel the training ramping up a notch now, with less than 3 weeks to go to the ABSA Cape Epic Prologue.

This past Sunday, I decided to head out to Grabouw and ride in some familiar Epic terrain. The Grabouw Country Club is my favourite place to ride in the Elgin valley. It offers long climbs, steep climbs, technical descents, rough single track and soft single track. It’s a versatile training ground, part of which the Cape Epic will be chasing us around for 2 full days.

Riding with friends is tricky, when your training schedule says 2,5 hours of “Epic pace” and they just want to do a normal ride.

I made sure we included as many climbs on our route as possible, so that I could try and “Epic pace” up those and let my mates catch up at the top or on the flats and descents. Along the way, I was shown some new single track that is being built for the 2015 W2W. How they get so much new single track built in this area is truly amazing. Every time I go back, there is another new single track to explore.

On Tuesday I went to for an interval session on the Compu Trainer. Man, that was tough!

When I hopped on my bike and looked at the computer screen, I saw 8 little blocks, very close to each other. “Ok, 8 sets I can handle. Can’t be that hard?”, I thought to myself. Grabouw 2The coach says, “ 8 x 4 Minutes at 300 Watts with 90 second recovery in between”. As I was pounding away at the pedals, I kept asking myself, “Why? Why not just stop now and leave it?”

I made it in the end, but I was pretty broken the next morning. During our regular Wednesday Coffee Ride, which is considered a recovery ride, my legs were Eina!

Tonight we head out for our Thursday Night Ride, which is also factored into my training schedule. The legs will feel better, I am sure about that. Friday is a rest day , but then it’s full gas on Saturday and Sunday. More “Epic pace” on the schedule.

I will probably head back out to Grabouw on one of the days. The other session I will probably deal with at Welvanpas. Another Epic stage location for this year.

I will leave you with this: When you’re riding the Epic and you’re eyes are scanning the horizon for where the route might take you. Look for the highest point around you. If you see a track up there, that’s where you’re going!”

Robert Vogel designs route portion for ABSA Cape Epic


Prologue route construction: Table Mountain trails

Prologue route construction: Table Mountain trails

It is very exciting for us to have our very own route designer riding as part of the Hansgrohe Mixed Team. Robert Vogel was asked by the ABSA Cape Epic to help design a portion for the Prologue of 2015.

” For those of you who don’t know this (and frankly, why should you!), I am involved in the route design for the Cape Epic. When the decision was made to bring the Prologue back on to the slopes of Table Mountain, I was approached and asked whether I would like to get involved and come up with a route for the Prologue. Initially it involved a lot of drawing theoretical lines in Google Earth and bouncing those files back and forth with my “Go to” man at the Epic office, but now we’re at the business end of this process. The exciting news is that San Parks have allowed the route to follow, a previously off-limits to cycling, footpath that we are rehabilitating under the strict supervision of a botanist and other environmental experts. As I am writing this Blog post, there are a bunch of trail builders working on a section of the Prologue route, putting in some really cool features.

The team is constructing a bridge over a very eroded piece of the footpath to protect it from further damage and we are hopeful that over time, the area will recover. I am most excited about the new piece of single track that has been constructed specifically for the Epic riders, but will form part of the legal cycling trail network after the Epic has moved on.

Robert Vogel on his training ride

Robert Vogel training for ABSA Cape Epic

Usually, people involved with the planning of the Cape Epic are not allowed to take part in the event. Lucky for me, an exception was made. I get to ride the route I designed. It might not be the “Queen” stage, but it’s going to be a special experience, lining up with Amanda at the start, knowing that I am riding in my own backyard on a route that I designed.

Make no mistake, whatever tactical advantage that might give us, I am not going to do anything stupid! The Prologue is what the name says, a precursor to the main event. It’s all about riding within yourself and getting through unscathed. Take no unnecessary chances and ride safe.

All I will say is that once you hit the part of the route that is currently under construction, it will be a long & fun descent, all the way back to the UCT rugby field. Enjoy!”

3,5 hours of “Epic pace”

Training man alone: Amanda Brooks

Training woman alone: Amanda Brooks

Attempting to do the Epic with two wildly differing personalities can be a challenge, especially when the two team members are halfway across the world from each other. Robert shares some of his MTB training routes around the Cape peninsula that he can be done on his own at Epic pace.

“With Amanda in New Zealand on work assignment for a couple of weeks, I am training without a partner. This doesn’t concern me much as we both know what is required and we are self-motivated and keen to do well. Plus, quite a few guys from our regular riding group are also taking part in the Epic, so finding someone to train with is easy.

Riding to a training schedule also makes you pretty self-sufficient and I actually prefer doing the training sessions on my own. I don’t have to talk to anyone and can just get on with the session. The 3,5 to 5 hour sessions that require 2,5 or 3,5 hours of “Epic pace” as my coach calls it, are easier to cope with alone. I usually choose to leave home and head through Cape Town and around the Atlantic Seaboard towards Hout Bay. The first part of the ride is nice and flat, ideal for a half hour warm up. By the time I head past Camps Bay, the flag goes down and it’s time to pick up the pace. The route I take follows the coast until Noordhoek, where I turn and head towards the Old Wagon Trail into Silvermine. So I’m on my mountain bike, hammering past groups of road bikers until I hit the dirt. You think you’re fast until a group of roadies comes whizzing past and makes you look like you’re standing still.

The climb up the “Ou Wapad” is rocky and steep in places and gets your heart rate deep into the red zone. The loop I do continues into Tokai where I get to enjoy the single tracks on the way down. The rest of the way home is through the suburbs and then for a final bit of punishment, I have to head up towards Rhodes Memorial and follow the Table Mountain jeep tracks back home into the City Bowl. By the time I get home I have done my 3,5 hours of “Epic pace” and covered close on 80km.

I will do this loop most weekends from now on. It’s convenient and familiar.

I will also go out to places like Grabouw and Welvanpas and ride the trails I know will form part of the Epic route. It’s good to know what to expect. It allows you to pace yourself and prepare yourself mentally for what the Epic will be throwing at you.

While Amanda and I will be focusing on our own race within the race, I will be following the progress of friends and riding buddies as well. It will be interesting to see how they cope. When I completed my first Epic in 2011, I was nowhere near as prepared as these newbies are now. The fitness levels of the riders keeps getting better & better and to achieve a top result gets harder each year.”

Muscle memory

Team Dan and Shane getting into saddles early in the morning

Team Dan and Shane getting into saddles early in the morning


This past week was all about getting back into the training regime after a bit of family time over December for our teams. If you are MTB training in the Western Cape, perhaps you can discover some tips and where is good for what sort of training from Robert Vogel.




“This past weekend was all about getting back on the bike and spinning the legs. It’s amazing how quickly the body remembers! Muscle memory.

2 consecutive days on the road bike, riding from home to the top of Chapman’s Peak and back. This is a great training route with flat sections and steady climbs, most notably, the long Chappies ascent and Suikerbossie on the way back. I can feel the cycling legs coming back, but the sensible option is to take it easy and not get ahead of yourself.

Amanda popped in for a visit on Saturday and we got reacquainted with each other after a year’s absence. It was all good and we’re keen to race.

My training schedule arrived by Email over the weekend and it looks tough!

Monday was day 1 and all that was required was a 1,5 hour “recovery ride” in heart rate zone 2. In other words, nice and easy with a high cadence.

Tuesday was a rest day, but this morning started with a bang. 10 intervals for 2 minutes each at maximum output with a 1minute rest in between!

I left the house early this morning, at about 5:45am to get the intervals done before our Wednesday morning coffee ride. The jeep track from Vredehoek to the King’s Blockhouse is the perfect route to do intervals on. Not that intervals are ever enjoyable.

Going forward, the training schedule follows a predictable pattern. Short, intense sessions during the week and long hours in the saddle over the weekend. During the few “rest days” off the bike, I will try and go to the gym to do some Pilates for my lower back and some strength training. Running a bit will also help since we do spent a fair amount of time pushing our bikes during the Cape Epic.”

Team Hansgrohe Mixed is back!

Lourensford (3)So, in case you hadn’t noticed – Rob’s team mate for ABSA Cape Epic 2015 has changed. After Lara suffered some lower back challenges, Robert is teaming it up with Amanda Brooks once again – we look forward to this strong team doing us proud in March 2015. He recently returned from his vacation in Germany and is now hitting his program really hard. Here’s how currently sees the way forward in terms of on the bike nutrition, training tips and team support.

“The 2014 edition of the Cape Epic as part of Team Hansgrohe was a fantastic experience. Everything came together for my partner Amanda and I. We had great team spirit, great team support, no mechanicals and we achieved our race goal.

 How do you top that? I didn’t really want to think about it and “forgot” about the Epic for a year. But here it is again! Only 2 months away!

 Even though I started training at the end of November, I knew that this time things would be a little different. I was heading overseas on a family holiday for 3 weeks and there were no bikes allowed.Training for the 2014 Epic, I went right through Christmas and New Year, doing some big sessions along the way.

A total break off the bike would definitely do more good than harm and when I arrived back home last week, I was itching to get back on the bike. Amanda is already in the Cape, having arrived from the UK shortly after New Year. We will be fine. There is still plenty of time to train together and be ready for the Epic.

 We are both riding the Tankwa Trek from 13 -15 February. These three days in Ceres on the Kaleo Guest Farm should give us a good indication of our fitness levels.

 As far as nutrition is concerned, nothing much will change for me. Do what you know and what you’re used to. During races, I can’t chew on a bar while I’m riding. I’m hot and uncomfortable, most likely breathing heavily and sweating while trying to negotiate a trail. I prefer something liquid that I can just “swig” down and be done with in seconds.

What works for me is Ensure. It’s basically a meal replacement for older people or people that cant feed themselves. It comes in powder form (you can buy it at Clicks and it’s much cheaper than any of the fancy sports nutrition brands) and you mix it with water. 200ml of Ensure will last for a 4-5 hour stage. One generous sip every 45minutes. It works like a bomb. I have no energy dips and don’t really need to eat anything at the water stations. I’ll chew on some apple pieces of watermelon for something fresh. That get’s me through an Epic stage.

 I’ll start using our Team Hansgrohe race kit from now and make sure it’s nicely ridden in before the Prologue. Same goes for new shoes, gloves and helmet. I want everything to feel comfortable by the time we hit the start line.

 Amanda and my team tactics are simple. We take care of each other and open our mouths if there is something bothering either of us. Communicate!
We ride together and we start conservatively. If we’re feeling good after Stage 4, we can increase the tempo. You do more damage in the first 2 days of the Epic and if you’re too enthusiastic out of the blocks, you may find yourself going backwards later on.

 Most of all, we will enjoy the Epic. It’s a real treat to be riding it again and I know we will make some friends along the way.”

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 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:

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

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.”