Many Cape Epic teams did not make it to stage 2

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The Thirsti bridge offered some respite on a very tough stage 1. (Photo: R24)
The Thirsti bridge offered some respite on a very tough stage 1. (Photo: R24)
  • After its successful debut at the 2021 Cape Epic, the Thirsti floating bridge returned for both the prologue and stage 1.
  • Thanks to a modular design, the bridge team could easily redeploy it over an idyllic body of water at the Lourensford route.
  • Stage 1 saw many teams unable to finish, but the Thirsti bridge was a sign that they would make it home for those who did.

Cape Epic mountain bikers fear no climb or descent. Trained to ride up the steepest trails, and descend the rockiest singletracks, most Cape Epic entrants have an assertive attitude to riding.

Prepared for any trail feature, they live by the riding philosophy that: when in doubt, ride it out.

The Cape Epic route organisers are not people given to mountain biking charity. Riders are expected to earn their stage finishes and medals.

Adhering to the event’s reputation as the world’s most significant test of endurance mountain biking, the route is designed to intimate and test all riders.

Cape Epic trail builders are known to lull riders into a false sense of confidence on the prologue and then following it with a tortuous first or second stage.

mountain bike cape epic
Riders who made it to the Thirsti bridge, knew they would finish. (Photo: Ride24)

Bridge to get the riders home

The Cape Epic’s first stage was 92km and totalled 2850m of climbing. It rolled through some of the Western Cape’s most terrific wilderness terrain in the Helderberg area, but the climbing profile was brutal.

How brutal? The last team home spent nearly 13 hours out on the route to complete its 92km. And the number of teams that did not finish was significant.

Only 474 teams managed to finish stage 1, with 106 not making it into the official classification for stage 2.

For those riders who managed to finish stage 1, there was a unique reward, 1.5km from the end. The Thirsti bridge.

Strategically placed to motivate riders close to the competition of stage 1, the bridge offered a fantastic view and respite from the dust, for 100m. And no, despite the stage 1 fatigue, no riders fell into the water.

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