Over the past week I’ve been asked by loads of people how they can track our progress as we disappear into the bush next week Sunday (25 March). As far as I understand the Absa Cape Epic website switches to ‘race mode’ for the duration of the race. Live times will be posted on the site as riders cross various timing mats scattered throughout the course.
But, if you want the real story of the race, twitter has you covered. Eight days of racing action will unfold on these accounts…
@niclamond – For obvious reasons we’ll start with me. I’ll be riding my 6th Absa Cape Epic, so I have some idea of what I’m in for. That said, I’m riding with a new partner, Carl. And the Epic punishes complacency so I know better than to think it’ll be easy. I won’t only be online – I will also be writing a daily column in the Cape Times from Friday, 23 March. Yep, a real newspaper! Old-skool.
@carlpasio – The better half of team RSAWEB Songo.info, my powerful partner Carl Pasio. Expect a bunch of twitter updates from the race as he waits for me at the top of the climbs!
@songoinfo – The charity we’re supporting. Expect a lot of updates from these guys as they also ride shotgun with the hot favourites for the 2012 event, Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander.
@teamrsaweb – Our corporate sponsors and the passionate dudes who make our race possible.
@sharkfreewaters – My girlfriend, and number one cheerleader.
@AbsaCapeEpic – The event’s official twitter handle.
@Drevilepic – Leon Evans, course designer and man responsible for the suffering.
@africanmtbkid – Burry Stander, the South African half of Team 36ONE SONGO SPECIALIZED, and defending Epic champ. Aggressive and motivated, Burry will be going hard all week.
@sauserwind – Christoph Sauser, Swiss über-legend of two wheels and Burry’s partner. A fierce competitor in the saddle, but approachable and relaxed in the flesh.
@plattos – German Karl Platt has ridden all nine Cape Epics and, with Stefan Sahm of @TeamBulls, has won the event three times. Also, one of the nicest guys in MTB.
@sahmurai – See what he did with his surname there? Stefan Sahm is German like his partner Karl, but unlike his other countrymen, he has a killer sense of humour. Also damn fast over long distances…
@davegeorge101 – One of South Africa’s finest road exports, Dave George has switched to fat tyres with huge success. He desperately wants an Epic leaders jersey to add to his road collection.
@kevinevinsracin – Quiet but potent, Kevin Evans is South African mountain biking royalty. He crashed spectacularly one Stage 1 last year, dashing the hopes of an overall podium for @Team360Life. Boy is he ready to make amends!
@misterafrican – A past winner of the Cape Epic, Mannie Heymans is a wild Namibian and legendary MTB World Cup journeyman. Expect fireworks in the beer tent, but not so much on the course: he only decided to race (for charity) about a week ago!
@raytissink – South Africa’s Ironman machine Ray Tissink will be partnering Mannie Heymans. Is there anything this guy can’t do?
@MaxKnoxRSA – Partnering Kohei Yamamoto (@KOHEY55) in Team SONGO SPECIALIZED after the Amercian Todd Wells pulled out with a damaged ankle, South Africa’s Max Knox will have his work cut out for him, on and off the bike! You see Kohei is Japan’s National XC Champ, and recently placed 22nd at the first round of the 2012 World Cup series in Pietermaritzburg. So the guy can ride. But his English is a little dodgy to say the least. Let’s hope Max can ready body language. If the partnership works, this is a formidable ‘B’ team for Sauser and Stander.
@shangwilson – Shan Wilson is racing in the Masters category and is as tough as nails. Basically Chuck Norris in lycra.
@kleinhansmuesli – If there’s a marathon XC race in South Africa that Swiss sensation Ariane Kleinhans hasn’t won, it’s because she hasn’t heard of it. She’ll be teaming up with the owner of this twitter account, her husband and former SA National XC Champ, Erik in the Mixed category. If their recent form is anything to go by, these guys will be dominating the top step of the podium. Love conquers all…
@kevinmccallum – He’s the Chief Sports Writer for The Star newspaper. He’s a Joburger. He’s one of @TeamAbsa‘s celebrity riders. And there is no doubt he will offer hysterical accounts of his battle from backmarker to mid-pack. If you’d rather meet him in person, I suggest the beer tent at the end of each stage.
@garyperkin – One of the finest lensmen out there, Gary Perkin (aka Flipper) will probably be working so flat out his attention to twitter will be limited. But when he does post, you’ll want to see it.
@svenmartinphoto – Another great South African action photographer tracking the Epic. How do we produce so many?
@vanhaywood – Probably best known for her role as Wikus van de Merwe’s wife in the cult sci-fi hit movie District 9, Vanessa Haywood has been training her butt off for months. She’s fairly new to this MTB thing and is also a celeb rider for Team Absa. Her account of the Epic should be interesting…
@dannicholl – Probably the most dangerous man at the event, Dan Nicholl can make the most hardened pro riders quake in their compression socks with his piercing wit. He’ll be commentating out on course every day, building the vibe and getting riders home safely.
@CranksofGlory – You should follow Nico van Zyl for one reason only. The guy is insane. He and partner @SingleSpeedWill will be riding all eight days, all 781km, all 16300m of climbing… on singlespeeds. That’s one effing gear. Or #1FG, if you’re looking for the hashtag.
There’s obviously a bunch of riders and team managers, mechanics, organisers, supporters and hangers on that I haven’t mentioned that will add colour to the race over the eight days. If I get a chance I’ll add more.
To everyone riding this thing, and sitting with butterflies in their stomach like I do right now, good luck. Look after your bike. Look after your partner. Look after yourself.