Meet Mike Nixon - He's climbed Mount Everest (twice) and has competed in every Cape Epic

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Mike Nixon riding on the Karakoram highway. (Photo: Land Rover/Kingsley Holgate Foundation/Supplied)
Mike Nixon riding on the Karakoram highway. (Photo: Land Rover/Kingsley Holgate Foundation/Supplied)
  • Mike Nixon has climbed the seven highest summits on each continent.
  • He is also one of only four people who have ridden every edition of the Cape Epic.
  • Mike recently rode 4000km delivering meals along with adventurer Kingsley Holgate. 

Mike Nixon has climbed Mount Everest twice, something very few people will ever achieve, once. 

He is also one of only four people to have competed every stage of every edition of the Cape Epic, the world’s toughest mountain bike race. 

While on expedition with Kingsley Holgate, Nixon has had the opportunity to ride his bicycle in some incredible places including the entire length of the Great African Rift Valley from Djibouti on the horn of Africa to Lake Urema in northern Mozambique and the entire length of the Lebombo Mountains. 

The team's recent adventure dubbed the Mzansi Edge Expedition tracked the outline of South Africa by Land Rover and mountain bike, delivering over 250 000 nutritious meals to families in need and clocking up over 16 000km in just 80 days. 

Nixon cycled over 4000km of this Mzansi Edge expedition route, including a grueling, 300km solo journey along the beaches and cliffs of the Wild Coast from Cintsa to Port St Johns.  

Mike Nixon
Mike carrying his bicycle on his back through a river. (Photo: Land Rover/Kingsley Holgate Foundation/Supplied)

How does an event like the Cape Epic appeal to an established adventurer like yourself? 

It has the reputation of being the Tour de France of mountain biking and I am so blessed because I live in Cape Town and it is on my doorstep. 

The Epic is also unique in the fact that anyone can line-up and race against the world's best professional mountain bikers. 

The event is also never the same, it is a lot different from what it was 17 years ago. 51% of the field are international riders, so if you love mountain biking as I do, why wouldn't you do this event while you still can. 

What were those first Epics like? 

During those first events the guys on the start line were all shapes and sizes, some as big as 140kg, some had big beer bellies and rode 26-inch hardtail mountain bikes. Nowadays it is completely different, by the time the riders get on the start line they are well trained, and their equipment is right, it has become and elite event and the event has changed accordingly.

How do you manage to train for the Epic while doing all your extreme journeys with Kingsley? 

Instead of riding every day I have a goal in terms of the number of hours I need to ride in a month. 

When on expedition there are some days when you will be able to ride for 5 or 6 hours a day and other days you won’t be able to ride at all. But overall I can do my hours. 

On our normal African expeditions, we set up camp wherever we find ourselves and depending on how the day is progressing. In the morning I will often head up on the route ahead of the vehicles while they do some humanitarian work. I take a radio with me and blaze the trail or set up a humanitarian project so that the locals are ready when the convoy of vehicles arrive at that village. 

You have done every Cape Epic, were there times that you thought that you are not going to get through this one and that the record is gone?

There are only four last Lions who have done all the events and the last four of us have a huge amount of respect for each other. It is spoken about who will last the longest, but I am the oldest, so I am probably due for the chop. 

Mike Nixon
Mike on on expedition with Kingsley Holgate. (Photo: Land Rover/Kingsley Holgate Foundation)

What is the most extreme place you have ridden your bicycle?

I would say just for sheer adventure it would be the heart of Africa, going through the Congo, I will never forget riding along a log cutting road which was as remote as you can get and crossing the road in front of me were five or six mountain gorillas. 

Security wise it would have to be Somalia where I rode behind a vehicle with a 12.7mm machine gun strapped to the back that was carrying eight or nine AK47 wielding terrorists. 

What is your role during the Kingsley expeditions? 

I am the expedition cyclist. Cycling is one of the elements of the expedition that we feel is advantageous to the expedition group as it adds the capital A to adventure. 

Everybody on the team contributes to the ethos of the adventure, which is the humanitarian work and the saving and improving lives through adventure. 

Were there times on a Kingsley adventure that you thought, this is it, we are not getting out of here?

We had to have a serious heart to heart with those barker tribesmen wading through rivers and the Congo flood plains trying to get our GPS waypoints amidst the trees, in the end we decided to go and fortunately it all came together. We had to put ourselves in that position in order to find the geographic centre point of Africa, something that had never been done before. 

You have done so much including climbing 7 peaks on 7 continents, what is next?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of adventures left but as you increase your experience you start running out of calendar. 

I am 61 years old now, so I need to start passing on the more extreme events, as your recovery time gets longer as you get older. These days I really enjoy the extreme adventures with Kingsley and team. 

We add the adventure element to these expeditions, climb a few mountains in Africa and ride my mountain bike. 


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