As we eagerly anticipate the 2024 Absa Cape Epic, let's take a moment to reflect on a remarkable story from last year. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Richard McMartin and Matthew Carter for sharing their inspiring journey with us. 🚵♂️🌟
''It is a mind game knowing that day after day, we will be out there for the longest time. Every rider with a puncture, broken bike or body becomes our new team mate. Some momentarily before whatever they are suffering from becomes too much and we arrange for their withdrawal. Others for days on end as they push on as the last riders. In my first years (this was my 6th) I used to be hopeful that we might get an incident free day. Get to the finish early. Enjoy a beer! I’ve come to learn that this never happens - there is no such thing as an easy day at the back of the field. Out of all the hard days we've had, the mud of Stage 6 goes down as my wildest. Mud so sticky that you were unable to ride or carry your bike with the weight of the clay caking it. The only relief was when the rain came down in buckets. Every stream became a bike wash used to get our wheels moving again. Our biggest challenge with bad weather like this is that we are not riding at our own pace and we get cold. Seriously sold! When I say the CIOVITA Pachetto Waterproof Jacket is 100% waterproof, I can safely say that I’ve tested it. Properly. Both as a jacket and a makeshift bivouac for riders waiting to be swept. It was a savour on the mountainside that day.
So why do we do it? The front of the Epic is the most televised MTB race on earth, but the back of the race is where the magic happens. The real stories of everyday people battling extraordinary circumstances. Some of them achieve their dream of finishing. Sadly for many it ends in heartbreak. This is part and parcel of life at the back and to share in these moments is very special.
The Absa Cape Epic Hyenas are the race sweeps. A team of 2 riders who start 15 minutes behind the last batch, ride the full course and finish with the last riders. They are the eyes and ears of the race organisation responsible for safety at the back of the field. They assist the riders at the back with course information, cut off times and lots of motivation. They don’t ride E-bikes, don’t get medals, but get to experience the Epic like no-one else. They are experienced riders and have a long history with the race.
When facing with an 80 hour week of riding, it's amazing how much of a difference the right gear can make. We’re thankful to be kitted out in CIOVITA from head toe.''
Credit: Max Sullivan (Photography)