The Cape Epic is a challenging stage race covering 800km of demanding trails in the Western Cape, South Africa. Every year 1200 riders take to the start line but many do not make it to the finish line 8 days later in Lourensford. Careful preparation, hard training and good luck are three factors shared by all of the elated riders collecting their finisher medals, picnic hampers and t-shirts at the end of race party.
It takes a lot of experience to learn how to prepare, train and approach a race like the Cape Epic. Some riders learn by trial and error – sometimes without success in their first (or later) attempts – while others garner as many tips and advice from previous finishers in order to improve their chances of not only finishing the race but also enjoying it.
Every year Club La Santa hosts a Training Camp aimed at equipping riders with knowledge and experience necessary to maximise success and enjoyment in South Africa. One difficulty faced by European riders preparing for the Epic is bad weather - training for such a mammoth event is hard enough even without freezing temperatures. Escaping to the mild and stable climate in Lanzarote provides respite from bad weather at home.
Training miles are, without doubt, important, but something equally important is experiencing multi-day racing, which is very different to one-day events. The really great thing about the Training Camp is the inclusion of a 4-day stage race. It’s the perfect opportunity to test equipment, nutrition strategies, recovery regimes and organisation under race conditions. Lanzarote is a particularly good place for a race rehearsal because the terrain shares many qualities with South Africa where attrition on equipment is a common reason for many riders DNF’ing.
As well as racing and training with people sharing a common goal – surviving the Cape Epic – there are some evening sessions where everyone gets together to share good ideas as well as things ‘not to do’! This year Karl Platt (4 time winner), Laurent Sillion (5 time finisher) and me (2 time winner) were on-hand to impart all of our experience.
After hard training and racing, Club la Santa offers everything required for optimum recovery: wellness centre, massage, sports injury specialists, doctor, leisure pool and sun loungers, gym, restaurants and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
With some high miles, back-to-back-racing, shared advice and contagious motivation we’re all ready for the final preparations before heading out to South Africa to tackle the 10th edition of the Cape Epic in 37 days!
Thanks Bob Foy for the photos!