I thought of that while riding my bicycle.
Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity

The Tour de France of mountain biking

1996 Olympic gold medallist in mountain biking and former Cape Epic winner has called The Cape Epic the Tour de France of mountain biking. The Union Cycliste Internationale has accredited the race as hors categorie – beyond categorisation. Only three other cycling races have this distinction; the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.

The Route

The Cape Epic changes every year except for the fact that it starts and finishes in the Western Cape in South Africa and lasts eight days. On average, riders cover 700km/435 miles. 2008 saw the longest Epic ever. Riders faced a gruelling 966km/600 miles.

The Amabubesi and the Outcasts

The race attracts both professionals and amateur two-man teams. Teams must stay together, or at least within 2 minutes of each other. If one member drops out, the remaining rider can still ride but he, or she, is no longer eligible to win and must stay behind the first thirty teams and are required to wear an ‘Outcast’ jersey. The Amabubesi, ‘pack of lions’ in Zulu, are those riders who have finished the race three times. They join the elite Amabubesi Club.

How can they call it the Western Cape?

When you consider that the Western Cape province extends north and east of the southernmost part of Africa, the fact that it’s called the Western Cape is a bit bizarre. But then the South Coast of South Africa is on the east coast about 15 hours north of Cape Town. Don’t ask. Just cycle.


How to define an adventure

Did you break a bone, bust a lung or pop a muscle are usually good measures by which to decide if you had a good adventure or not. If you came close the chances are you had an excellent adventure! Riding in the Cape Epic it felt like I was in danger of doing all three. Fairly often. Andrew Woodburn and I teamed up to do the Epic and cycled with 600 other teams from Knysna to Somerset West over 960km of the Western Cape. With cumulative ascent of 18 500 m believe me, lungs, muscles and brain screamed, “What were you thinking?” at fairly regular intervals. Eight days of constantly changing and constantly challenging terrain, from the dusty Karoo to the moist coastal forests provided the answer – it sure beats sitting in an office!

Cape Epic Large

Let’s have a moment of silence for all those who are stuck in traffic on the way to the gym to ride stationary bikes.