CAPE EPIC PUSHES THE SPEED AND PAIN BARRIER

The lead bunch above Hermanus during stage 1 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. The event uses enough gravel roads for the promoters to stage an event like America’s Gravel Grinder. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

The South African Cape Epic mountain bike stage race is not for everybody. A rider commits to spending 8 days in a mountain bike saddle to climb about 49,000 feet while covering 430 miles, all the time working with a partner (this is a team race) to beat 1200 other like-minded masochists.  You would imagine the promoters must have problems filling all the available spots, but you’d be wrong.  The early entries sell out in a matter of minutes and the remaining $5,690-entry-fee slots are awarded via a lottery. Yes, the Cape Epic has to turn riders away.

There are no multi-stage mountain bike races of this magnitude in the U.S. of A.  My guess is that we have too many people and too much private land in areas that don’t have people.  That’s why these events find themselves based in places like South Africa, the Himalayas, Australia and yes, Mongolia.  And even with open spaces, it is a logistical nightmare to stage an event like this.

The Cape Epic should be on the bucket list of any rider who understands the transcendental nature of endurance mountain bike racing.  The rest of us can enjoy the photos.

Hot and dry conditions added to the difficulty of this year’s event. Officials wisely shortened stage 2. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

South Africa’s topography could be confused with Southern California (if we had a few million less people and freeways). Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Best-use-of-shadows award goes to this one. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Best-use-of-riders’-reflections award goes to this one. This looks just like Ventura County without the houses. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Nino Schurter of SCOTT-SRAM MTB Racing the break away from the lead bunch during stage 5 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

 

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