Hitchhiking to a Cape Epic arrival
Very happy stage 4 finishers, after a big mechanical drama near the end. (Photo: Ride24)
The Cape Epic has a diversity of riders, each with their own goals for untamed mountain bike racing.
Some of the best runners in the world race at the head of the event. But for a significant number of runners, simply arriving at the finish of a Cape Epic stage before the dreaded time is a victory in itself.
Thursday morning Jacques Jonker and Luniel Botes of the Hak & Steek team had a relatively trouble-free Epic. After surviving the terrible heat and wind on steps 1 and 2, they started Stage 4 ranked 357th overall.
There is some sketchy singletrack through the fynbos, after the infamous UFO climb outside Greyton. And this is where disaster struck step 4.
“We were feeling good and having a good time. But my rear wheel completely looped down this rocky singletrack after the UFO,” Jonker recalled.
The team had spent almost two years training for the Cape Epic. They were supposed to roll in 2020, before the pandemic hit. Subsequently, they postponed their entry to this year. Not finishing was not an option.
“The last water point was before the climb so we couldn’t turn around and get help. With just over 10km to go we decided to keep going,” added Jonker.
Luniel Botes explained his driving tactics until the finish. “Moving forward took a lot of energy. The wheel wobbled so badly that it rubbed on the frame. I’m much lighter than Jacques, so we decided I’d ride a bike. Then one of our friends would take a turn, while Jacques was riding next to our little bikes.
“We had to heal the rim because if it completely disintegrated it would be our epic over.”
The couple slowly descended the mountain and once on the district road another team, Wynand van der Berg and Maritz Nel, caught up with them. This is where the fun really began.
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