Hey Guys and Gals - thanks for all the great work.
Just a bit of feedback (or a lot of feedback now that I read it back) regarding your Cape Epic discussion:
First of all good luck to @Nate_Pearson, @chad and all the others who are lucky enough to get entries to the race.
I lived in the Cape Epic’s backyard for the last 10 years. While never lucky enough to participate, I have ridden a lot of the trails used and been involved in the race (supporting, photographing, seconding etc ) to various degrees over these year. I now live in Boulder Colorado, but think I can give some good info.
The Route: This route changes every year. That said, the prologue is generally either at the University of Cape Town or the Meerendal Wine farm. The finish is at the Val de Vie resort - I think they have a 5 year deal to host the final stage, so it will be the same for 2021.
While the organizers used to do their very best not to re-use routes year to year, since the Iron Man group took over a couple years back, we are seeing them re-use a lot of the course. I guess this just makes organisation easier and saves some money. Point being, you may be able to pre-ride a handful of sections but it will be a guessing game until the actual course is announced - usually about 6 months out from the start of the race. (For example the 2020 route will be announce in September 2019).
Technical - or not? All depends on your skill level. But on the whole, it is not a super technical course. But don’t let that fool you. There will be sections that will break you and/or your bike if you don’t treat them with respect.
In terms of terrain you will cover everything from jeep track, portage, endless super steep climbs, fun descents, some world class single track and @Nates favorite bench cut tracks Bottom line - while not the most technical course, you will need to be able to ride everything from hard pack single track to beach sand to loose tennis ball size rocks…
Weather: The race takes place at the end of the South African summer / beginning of Fall. That means you will experience hot summer days (95 -100 degrees) but also means you are entering the rainy season in Cape Town. Plan for at least one cold, wet, muddy day. And when I say cold, I mean hypothermic cold. You could spend 5 hours in pouring rain, with an angry south wester blowing.
On the whole, concentrate on your heat training. On averages, the heat is the one aspect that takes the biggest toll on Northern Hemisphere visitors coming out of cold winters.
Accommodation: It sounds like you have this in hand, what with organizing non-camping facilities. Very few (if any) of the guys racing at the pointy end of the race stay in the tents. Also, staying outside of the race village will allow you to control your nutrition to a much greater degree. While the food in the village is adequate, there is a lot of room for improvement.
Mechanic and Mechanicals: Book an mechanical package!! You finish the day, dump your bike with the Mac and you don’t have to worry about it until the next day. If the weather is hot, the fine dust will kill your drive train. If it is rainy, the mud will kill your drive train. You will be doing river crossings then going into soft river bed sand - which will kill you drive train… You get the picture - get a mechanics package!
In terms of mechanicals, it’s not a case of ‘if’ but ‘when’. Be proficient at plugging punctures, fixing sidewall cuts and mending broken chains. Don’t skimp on tires. Go for something bullet proof. Ride what Team Bulls ride. Don’t ride what team Specialized ride.
When to Go: I can’t answer for you. But if I had an open diary and unlimited check book this is what I would do:
There is a 5 day road stage race about 12 days before the Epic. A number of the Epic contenders come out and do this race to get heat acclimatized. It is also a pretty good event with some great riding. For reference, the 2020 schedule is 2-6 March with Epic being 15-22 March. https://tourofgoodhope.co.za/
Regardless of whether you want to race or ride it, make sure you do the Cape Town Cycle tour. It is usually the Sunday before the start of the Epic i.e. the 2nd Sunday of March. It is a beautiful ride with full road closures. Sam Gaze won this year’s event - so don’t think it’s just for roadies. https://www.capetowncycletour.com/
Regardless of when you end up going, there are always course recon group rides happening. I’m sure you will be able to find a group - or I can hook you up.
I can go on and on - if you have any specific questions send me a message. Or if there are any general questions, just reply to this post and I’ll respond.
The Epic is a great event and certainly a challenge. It certainly gets all the limelight and media attention. My knowledge on USA events is very limited, but I would liken it to Leadville - you tell any non-mountain biker that you ride MTB and they will probably ask you if you have done Leadville. Same goes for Epic (certainly in South Africa anyway).
All that said, if you or anyone else reading this want to spend probably the best 9 days on a mountain bike in South Africa then look into https://www.joberg2c.co.za/. I’m not going to divert this thread, but if this appeals to anyone, I will gladly organise a group trip - great excuse to go back !
Good Luck with the training and planning!
I’ll leave you with this pic I took a few years back - Sauser putting his partner into the Hurt Box up a climb.