Oh yes, it’s certainly tough – especially for Tino. He didn’t get much sleep the night before due to stomach problems, and he was still unable to eat before the start this morning. Not necessarily the perfect situation for the upcoming stage, which, with a distance of 128 kilometres and a difference in altitude of 2800 metres, is the longest of this year’s Cape Epic race! We’ve been pushing ourselves through the dust and across passes for more than four hours, and we have not even mastered half of the stage.
Amidst a small olive grove – the thermometer shows almost 41 degrees celsius – it happens: Tino just stops and sits down on the ground without saying a word. Was that it? Will we have to give up?
All we want to achieve here is to finish the race. We aim to reach the finishing line of this ultra-tough stage race, test the field performance of our new CC 3l RACE backpack and above all, we want to show what’s possible if you have the right attitude.
The Unequal Team
Because both team members have a uniqueness factor: Tino Kaessner is a former professional soldier who lost his right lower leg during a military action in Afghanistan. I, Jan Sallawitz, am marketing manager at EVOC, and I’ve never taken part in a mountain bike marathon race before. After a short breather Tino fortunately manages to ride on. With great effort and intense support indeed, we finally do make it to the finishing line after more than eight hours.
Exceptionally long stages with extreme changes in weather and trail conditions make each day in itself an extreme challenge. Both our bodies and the material have to perform perfectly in order to withstand the constant strain. And particularly when it comes to mental strength, it’s important to find new motivation every single day. This is anything but an easy task when you look at the terrifying route profiles with a daily average of 100 kilometers and a bit more than 2000 meters elevation gain!
Yet, following that severe low during the third stage, it’s going better and better for us every day. Thoroughly enthusiastic, we are riding some perfect trails through the amazingly beautiful African countryside, and despite the effort and struggles we continue to rediscover the joy of cycling that has brought us here in the first place.
Yes - finished
When we cross the finishing line on the last day after a total of 739 kilometers and 16,000 meters of vertical gain, we are overwhelmed by our emotions. It’s unbelievable, we made it! Finishers at the Cape Epic – how good is that?