I’m going to casually avoid dealing with the fact that I haven’t posted anything to this blog for almost a year, okay? Ta. Moving swiftly along…
I’m stoked to be partnering up with my old mate Carl Pasio for this year’s Absa Cape Epic. And when I say old, I mean we have raced the prestigious event twice together. I don’t mean he is old. Actually he is disturbingly young. I, on the other hand, am starting to feel my 37 years and eight previous Cape Epics!
I made a bit of noise about him when we rode together for the first time in 2012. Check it out here. Some of the same fear is creeping back at the thought of riding with a man nine years my junior, who routinely clocks up 150km rides before lunch and calls the Spanish Pyrenees his training ground.
But I am quickly comforted by the fond experience of facing this crazy ordeal together before, and conquering it. We didn’t have it easy. In our first outing together Carl spent Stage 3 soft-pedaling while I spent the day stoically trying to hold onto his rear wheel while throwing up on my handlebars. In 2013 it was his turn – Carl caught an evil race village bug before Stage 4 that brought him to his knees. I dragged him over the Bainskloof Pass and into Wellington in 150th position that day, convinced our race was over. But Carl had other ideas and we stormed back into the top-20 on Stage 5. We have laughed out loud often and shed more than a few tears in the 1,479km and 31,900m of vertical ascent so far.
But the ultimate proof of our success as a pairing was when I asked Carl if he’d like to square up to the adventure again. His answer was unhesitating – yes. If we were nervous in 2012 before we decided to team up, we are mountain bike stage racing Zen masters now. We know it’s our friendship (and a bit of luck) that what will carry us through.
I am equally proud to be riding for Team RSAWEB. The Cape Town-based IT company is owned by two friends of ours, Mark Slingsby and Rob Gilmour. These guys have an innovative approach to business, and an industry-leading understanding of the tech world they operate in. But, even better, they love bikes. They just get it. RSAWEB has been proudly supporting the cycling industry and aspiring athletes for years. Carl’s early career as a pro triathlete and cyclist was made possible by their sponsorship. My brother Simon and I rode the our fourth Absa Cape Epic together for Team RSAWEB in 2009.
Another long-standing partner that we are very fortunate to have is Biogen. As with RSAWEB this South African nutrition company has supported Carl and I for years. While Biogen products keep us powered up and hydrated out on the trail it’s their support team back in the office who really make working with them such a pleasure. Biogen is sports-mad and its marketing head is Brandon Fairweather, another sports fanatic who understands the many demands of pro and amateur bike racing.
I am getting flippen excited about charging through the Western Cape on 15 March, with Carl by my side. And I’m amped to take you all along for the ride – on this blog, as well as via the Cape Times, where I will again be writing daily columns from the trenches of the race.
I also can’t wait to introduce my new bike, which has a couple of interesting race tweaks to the setup…
For a quick idea of what we’re signing up for this year, watch the 2015 Absa Cape Epic route video: