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John Gale has ridden 18 Cape Epics and 9 on the same bike

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The Cape Epic is brutal on bikes. But John Gale has done nine of them, on this Scott Spark. Proving the Swiss brand’s durability. (Photo: John Gale)
The Cape Epic is brutal on bikes. But John Gale has done nine of them, on this Scott Spark. Proving the Swiss brand’s durability. (Photo: John Gale)

John Gale is a Cape Epic Last Lion. One of only three riders to have completed every stage of every Cape Epic. While this is a remarkable feat on its own, Gale has been able to do the last nine of those Epics on the same mountain bike.

"Doing every Cape Epic was never the intention. I did the first one when Jake Jacobsen thought it would be a good idea and then I didn't have an entry for the second edition until two weeks before the race."

"I went to a school reunion and met a friend who I hadn't seen for many years and surprisingly, he had an extra entry. The third time around, my partner was lucky enough to get an entry via the lottery. Fortunately, from then on, we got a preferential slot, making things slightly easier," recalls Gale.

"I don't think it was ever my intention to do all the Epics. It just kind of happened. Doing the Epic is a huge undertaking. And the problem is that you are only as good as your last Epic. You really don't know if you can finish until you have. With 18 under the belt, it is certainly harder to let go, because if you miss one, that's it," Gale explains.

Gale finds it somewhat amazing that three riders have gotten to this point of riding all the Cape Epic stages.

"The fact that three of us have been able to finish every stage of every Cape Epic is incredible. To stay healthy and out of trouble for so many tough kilometres across 144 days takes some doing. I am curious and don't know how this Last Lions thing will play out."

"In those first years we knew nothing, it was just a bunch of adventurers going on a bike ride across the Cape and this meant that participants had different approaches and attitudes. As time passes, information has become more accessible and riders are more prepared."

"Learnings of professional athletes are now more accessible to everyone and pro-type stuff like nutrition, massages and service packages are available. This has resulted in riders across the field taking the Epic more seriously," says Gale.

"Another big change that I have noticed is that at the early Epics, everyone slept in the tents. Nowadays, only about half of the riders do, with many choosing to rather book into a local guest house," quips Gale.

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