Epic mountain bike adventure
Cape Epic is to mountain biking what the Tour de France is to road cycling: it’s the event of the year and an absolutely unforgettable experience for those taking part. And with two of our riders from the BORA – hansgrohe team swapping their road bikes for full-suspension mountain bikes this year, you have the perfect recipe for an epic adventure.
The Cape Epic route takes eight days, winding its way through spectacular landscapes in the Western Cape province. Its routing changes every year and features amazing mountains and valleys, majestic canyons, quaint vineyards and mystical forests. What makes the race unique is that amateurs and professionals race alongside each other, and each team is made up of two people who must finish the race together. The riders have to conquer 700 km distance and 16,000 m in climbs across a prologue and seven stages. Instead of staying in a hotel, racers sleep in the tournament’s camping village, which moves with them every day from one location to another. All of the race’s logistics, including daily bike washes, are taken care of for the riders, and with them all camping together, it creates an incredible atmosphere, so they don’t just enjoy the race but their time before and after the stages, too.
michal červený photography
Absa Cape Epic
BORA – hansgrohe goes to Cape Epic
Lennard Kämna and Ben Zwiehoff from the BORA – hansgrohe team joined in the Cape Epic fun at this year’s race (17–24 October). They knew from the outset that they weren’t in it for the results. Instead it was about showing the team in a new light and going on a unique adventure together wearing the team colours. In addition to all the skill and meticulous work that goes into a professional cycling team, you also need to think outside the box. The project to participate in this absolutely epic race came about through various talks and discussions with team manager Ralph Denk. Ben and Lennard were coming at it from completely different angles. For Lennard, who hails from the lowlands of northern Germany, this year was the first time he’d ever got on a mountain bike. It was also his first time back in the saddle for a race after a few months off. For Ben it was the opposite – this was a return to his sporting roots and the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. He did, after all, spend many years on mountain biking trails as a pro. He quickly shared his breadth of mountain biking experience with Lennard to help him get up to speed and improve day by day. It was obvious throughout that having fun was top priority for both of them, showing that the team slogan ‘Band of Brothers’ really means something.
A Grand Tour vibe with a little something extra
Thanks to the team’s partner Specialized, Ben and Lennard had their own camping area within the race village with a camper van and support crew. They also had their own chef since the calorie intake for the Cape Epic is similar to that of a Grand Tour, so they both almost felt like they were in their own BORA – hansgrohe kitchen truck. It was just the very early stage start that meant minor changes to their breakfast. When you’re on this kind of adventure, and there’s no pressure to get top results, you mustn’t forget to enjoy a glass of local wine after a hard day’s work as you watch the South African sunset!
The constantly changing landscapes and countryside were extraordinary, especially the encounters with South African wildlife. One night a gecko jumped through an open window and landed on Lennard’s face, then a family of monkeys suddenly crossed the street. There were some challenging times, too, such as broken heating on the first night in the camper van and weather that could change in an instant.
With all the unforgettable experiences, Ben and Lennard’s time in South Africa flew by way too fast, but it left behind a beautiful friendship that they forged during that intense week. Ben’s matchless optimism put MTB newbie Lennard at ease and constantly encouraged him to push to his limits (and beyond). And when they crossed the finish line, they were just happy and grateful for this amazing adventure despite the extreme physical effort. Now they know from experience that the Cape Epic certainly lives up to its name.
Watch the duo’s (Off) Roadtrip video diaries over on the BORA – hansgrohe Instagram to see more, with breathtaking shots and interesting sound bites: https://www.instagram.com/borahansgrohe/.