CAPE EPIC 2023 | Where to start as an Epic newbie?

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Many mornings on Table Mountain, is considered a foundation for Cape Epic training. (Photo: Cape Epic)
Many mornings on Table Mountain, is considered a foundation for Cape Epic training. (Photo: Cape Epic)

This will not be a training textbook for the Cape Epic. I will be learning as I go through the process and will undoubtedly make mistakes along the way. 

Hopefully, riders can benefit from my mistakes as I diarise my Cape Epic preparation experience during the next few months. 

For years I've looked at the Cape Epic as a race that intrigued me and intimidated me. I'm not the typical South African mountain biker interested in testing how long or how far I can go on a bike. I'm here for a good time, not a long time. 

I prefer racing XCO, single day marathons, or at most, a three-day stage race with a maximum ride time of around four hours per day. That's proved to be a decent limit for me. Beyond four hours, I start to wonder why I'm doing this to myself and wouldn't I prefer doing a sport that requires far less physical pain, like the cricket and tennis games I was pretty good at in school?

It would seem that I am a bit of a sucker for collector's items - to my detriment. Since mountain biking is my chosen hobby, a Cape Epic medal seems like something worth adding to the achievement wall in my garage.

So that's why I've got my name on the start list for the 2023 Cape Epic. But, I don't just want to finish. If I do this race just once, I want to do it well. As such, I've set myself the initial target of a top 100 finish. 

So what now? A lot needs to happen in the next ten months to prepare for eight tough days on the mountain bike. 

Any basic search of Google about how to train for a stage race will inevitably return the result, 'never try something new for race day'. That generally goes for nutrition, clothing and bike parts.

Now is the time to try and get things right and figure out what works best for longer distances, hard terrain and the stomach.

I've been riding bikes consistently for around ten years. So I'm pretty well set on the things I like on my bike and the kit I want to use, but there's always room for improvement. 

For starters, I'm a super lightweight rider (63.5kg and 1.81m) without much 'cushioning'. I have a terrible fear that I'll succumb to saddle sores, which can afflict even the pro riders at an Epic.

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