Racing the Cape Epic, the most adventurous and professional mountain bike race on earth

One of the clearest memories I have of summers when I was little, is the noise that the television made in the month of July. As we were waiting for the morning cold to pass, in order to jump into the pool with my friends, I saw the landscapes of the Central Massif or the ramps of the Hautacam always with the same background noise. Tac, tac, tac, tac: the sound of the helicopter. It was a soundtrack strongly connected to July, while on the television I saw the idyllic landscapes of France.

If in the road cycling scene the month of July is synonymous with the Tour de France, in the world of mountain biking March means Cape Epic. For all those people who enjoy mountain biking in search of the best climbs and the most attractive trails, the Cape Epic is, without a doubt, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


Just like the Tour de France, the organizers of the Cape Epic created their event with the idea of hosting a mountain bike event that puts everyone to the test. Their goal is to create an event that matches any big international event, but on a mountain bike.

Everything is part of this adventure, from looking for a partner who wants to share the challenge with you – as it is a race for teams of two – to the draw of getting the race numbers. The months of preparation the Cape Epic requires, and the 10 hours of travel to Cape Town (one of the three official capitals of the Republic of South Africa), are the first steps of these eight days that you will never forget as a ‘newby’ (the nicknames experienced riders give to all participants who are new to the event).

The prologue is usually a time trial between 15 and 20 kilometers, in which the pairs leave every 20 seconds and race on the paths around Table Mountain. After the prologue, participants can go to their tent, where they will enjoy naps at 45 degrees and rainy nights at 5 degrees Celsius.

Cape Epic pushes bike technology forward

Rolling along the paths that seem to be handmade by a bicycle-loving engineer, while just over 3 meters above your head you have one of the three helicopters that broadcast the race live, are things that very few sports allow amateurs to enjoy together with professionals. The livestreaming meanwhile exceeds all expectations and captures every single move of the best mountain bikers in the world. As the motto of the race says: the Cape Epic is the race that captures it all.

As in the Tour de France, no one has been able to take more than five overall victories in the Cape Epic. Even the legendary Karl Platt and Cristoph Sauser have not: they are stuck on four.

For all amateurs, dreaming of finishing a Cape Epic is already a big challenge, but if they return home wanting to keep dreaming, those who finish the race three times are crowned as Amabubesi, which in Zulu means herd of lions.

This story is part of Nafent Magazine volume 3. Read the full story in our digital or paper magazine. Go to our webshop, or buy yours at one of our seventy partner places.

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