Current Challenge: 2010 ABSA Cape Epic

What is it all about?

The ABSA Cape Epic is an annual multi-staged mountain bike race held in South Africa. It is the largest mountain bike stage race in the world and is a recognised event in the world of professional international mountain bike racing.

It is widely regarded as one of the toughest challenges in mountain biking; 600 pairs of riders compete over an off-road course that climbs over 16,000m in approximately 900km. Thus, the entrants also include some of the best Cross Country and Marathon riders in the world. In 2009, 1200 athletes from 46 countries participated in the race, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Sweden the USA and Venezuela. For more information, please visit the ABSA Cape Epic website.

Epic Training

We started mountain biking as a hobby in May 2009, and are under no illusions about the difficulty of completing an ultra-endurance event such as the 2010 ABSA Cape Epic. For instance, 121 participants did not finish the 2009 ABSA Cape Epic. As the media reports: “Whatever your aspirations for the ABSA Cape Epic, whether racing it or just finishing, it is gonna hurt real bad! “

Against this background, we started cycling more regularly from June onwards, and started a 5-month heart rate based training program from November onwards (similar to those supplied by Polar). This type of program allows you to measure your training based on heart rate intensity and time spent in these intensities. Distance becomes less important when using such a program as the main objective is to achieve the time targets at the specific heart rate intensities. Such training is all about endurance, strength and day-to-day recovery at these intensities, so as to enable us to cope with 8 days of continual racing!

Below are details of several training trips we have undertaken in preparation for the Epic. Photos of these training trips are on the Photos page.

date training trip description
July 2009 Trip 1 350km mountain-biking trip.
(Focus: technical riding)
Aug. 2009 Trip 2: TransWales 2009 UK's toughest mountain-bike stage race. 600km, 7 days, 12,000m climbed.
(Focus: race-pace riding)
Nov. 2009 Trip 3 300km road cycling trip.
(Focus: endurance riding)
Feb. 2010 Trip 4 Cross-country MTB wkend trip.
(Focus: endurance & technical riding)
Feb. 2010 Trip 5 Cross-country MTB & road cycling wkend trip.
(Focus: hill climbing)

Epic Video Clips

In order to apprciate the scale of the challenge, here are a series of official video clips of the ABSA Cape Epic of 2008 and 2009.