The Cape Epic route changes each year, leveraging the abundance of Western Cape mountain biking terrain.
Route designers aim to develop stages that showcase the beauty of the Western Cape, but the views always come at a price. All riders agree, that a Cape Epic medal should never come easy. But there is one element that nobody has control over: weather.
Extreme weather conditions can transform a mild Epic stage into the stuff of nightmares and there are many examples of this. During the 2012, stage 5 featured so much rain and mud, that it ruined nearly the entire field's brakes, by the second water point.
The prologue and first two stages of this year's Cape Epic were characterised by extreme heat and wind, resulting in a significant attrition rate. Only 474 teams managed to finish stage 1. Despite extending the cut-off time to 11 hours, 29 teams could not finish the second stage.
Gerhard Klerck of Team Vakansie trap finished in 197th position. "Stage 1 was hard. Stage 2, even harder. Heat and Wind. You had to ride one day at a time and not think about tomorrow."
"On the first stage, the heat did some damage. It was just carnage out there. Like a war zone, okes lying left right and centre," recalled Donavan Roscoe. He rode for CANSA alongside partner Ole Trumpheller and finished in 187th position.
"On stage 2 that south easter blew. For 120km we had the worst headwind that I have ridden into. If you stopped pedalling, you stopped dead. There was no chance to recover on the downhills, as they were bone-jarring. I think they sent us through the ugliest part of South Africa," chuckled Roscoe.
"After we cleared the Gantouw pass, we realised this wind wasn't just coming across the the mountain. It was coming from Australia and kept beating us," added Roscoe, jokingly.
"We are happy with a finish under eight hours on that windy stage. We didn't have any real issues apart from me forgetting my bottles at the water point. I have only done two other Epics. But stages 1 and 2 were the hardest first two days of any Epic that I have ever ridden.”