El Jefe is amongst the registered riders and will be on the starting line of the 2015 Absa Cape Epic. And so will Papi, Baloo, Gigi, Desh, Pesta, Sope, Manu … and many more colourfully-nicknamed riders from 52 countries around the world.
These riders secured their entries through the “lottery system”, through which the majority of the entries are allocated. The day after the 2014 event another 100 early bird places had been snapped up within seconds.
The deadline for riders to take up their lottery entry has passed – congratulations to all those who accepted the challenge and entered! “I wish you well in your preparations, and we hope to see you at one of our many events leading up to the race” says Absa Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak.
Now for the small matter of hours and hours of training.
Why do they do it?: “My riding buddy David entered my name for Epic without telling me,” says the Western Cape’s Gareth Lynch. “Only when he got the entry did he drop the bomb. It was kinda like a marriage proposal … so I said ‘no … no … no … no ways’. Well, here we are.”
Urs Walder of Switzerland has a score to settle with the event: “In 2011 I crashed and damaged my shoulder. The last 200km we could not ride at full speed and lost 50 places. Ergo, we have unfinished business.”
Andre Botha, a Western Cape rider, also has a similar motive. He shattered his shoulder on Stage 3 in 2009 and it took four years to heal – “so I am back!”.
Manuel Lafora of Spain explained: “Because it is ‘THE’ mountain bike stage race in the world, the Tour de France of mountain biking where amateurs like me can participate.”
Welshman Steve Salt will be there because “I am a granddad determined to stay young”.
David Fernandez wants to be in the “first team from the Dominican Republic to ride your event”.
Australian Simon Deshon, who lives in England, says: “I love experiencing a new environment from a bike. This trip will be about immersing myself in the area.”
Croatian Luka Sopic simply wants to “see how high my limits are”.
For American Colin Campbell it will be a homecoming: “I grew up in Cape Town and left for America in 1999. I only started mountain biking when my wife, Jennifer, dragged me off the couch at 110kg. That was back in 2009.”
Five years later and he has completed many of the toughest races in the world, including the Huracan Challenge, a non-stop ride of more than 500km through Florida.
Now for the most prestigious of them all: “I have never ridden any of the trails in Cape Town and what better way to experience the Cape than participating in the Absa Cape Epic?”