How to avoid New Year’s Eve ruining your Cape Epic MTB training

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Feeling wiped out after a Cape Epic stage is valid. Save if for the event. Not New Year’s Eve. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).
Feeling wiped out after a Cape Epic stage is valid. Save if for the event. Not New Year’s Eve. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).
  • New Year’s Eve has the potential to undo your mountain biking plans for 2023. Especially if you are in that final training phase for Cape Epic.
  • We have some sage advice on navigating the last day of the year, and that first day of 2023, without imperilling your mountain biking ambitions.
  • You can train on 31 December and 1 January. Safely. But mountain bikers need to be clever about when they ride.

South Africans go big on New Year’s. Police and healthcare statistics prove that. A tolerant drinking culture and warm weather over New Year’s Eve, enable lots of wayward behaviour and risk for everyone.

The period between Christmas and work schedules resuming in the second week of January is a strange one for committed amateur mountain bikers. If you are one of those hardy weekend warriors preparing for the 2023 Cape Epic, this is where your training can go awry. Or worse, be derailed by an avoidable injury due to New Year’s revelry.

What are the smart ways to keep your singletrack commitments on the 31st and 1st, without suffering untoward consequences? We have some advice on how to survive New Year’s and make it to that Cape Epic prologue start, in late March.

Cape Epic
Training rides on the 31st or 1st, should be ultra-cautious. Stay well clear of other vehicles when riding on-road. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).

Don't go late on the last day

Let us deal with the 31st, first. Get your riding done early. Don’t go for a later afternoon training ride. Traffic is notoriously hectic on the afternoon of the 31st, as partygoers transit to their venues of choice.

If your vacation Cape Epic training routes include any tar linking from your home to the trail, it’s best ridden very early in the morning, on the 31st. This avoids the potential of a mountain bike-to-vehicle conflict in the crush of maddening later afternoon traffic on the 31st.

Cape Epic
Cape Epic riders know how to party. But also how to do so, without ruining their training. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).

Don't be a New Year's Eve hero

Once you have completed that training ride on the 31st, be sensible about your evening alcohol consumption and routine. There are fewer dust particles on a Cape Epic stage than examples of people doing silly things on New Year’s Eve, and visiting the local medical emergency room.

You don’t want to be the rider who must list their Cape Epic entry for sale, during the first week of January, because of a table dancing injury. Or a crucial ligament tear, after rolling downhill on a grass embankment.

Beyond the risk of alcohol induces imbalance and tumbling injuries, there is the dehydration issue. Larger riders might benefit from greater blood volume to dilute alcohol’s influence, but the dehydration effect is real.

Cape Epic
If you keep it tidy on New Year’s, there’s lots of Cape Epic socialising to be had, in March. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).

Be patient on the 1st

If you want to roll out on the morning of the 1st, to set your Cape Epic training on its final course for the 2023 event, be conservative with your timing.

Our advice for scheduling that first ride of 2023 will appear counterintuitive. You might want to ride early, but there is an unusual risk associated with that. The most hardcore New Year’s Eve partygoers will revel until sunrise. And that means you could encounter vehicles driven by people who are way over the limit or simply fatigued beyond any driving judgement, on the morning of 1 January. 

Our advice is to stall your first ride of 2023, until late afternoon on the 1st.

Cape Epic
The Cape Epic is brutal. And that festive season training cycle is a make or break time, for most riders. (Photo: Dom Barnardt).

March is more important the New Year's 

For most riders, New Year’s Eve occurs at the three-quarter point of their Cape Epic training timeline. You’ve done well and committed through winter, spring and early summer. Riding those early mornings and late afternoons. Lots of time on the indoor trainer.

Having a New Year’s celebration incident, whether late on the 31st or early on the 1st, can undo your Cape Epic ambitions for March. And it is avoidable. Be smart with your riding and behaviour. No mountain biker wants to start the year with an injury or broken bike.

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