2018 ABSA Cape Epic: Q&A - The Newbie, A Second Chance & The Riding Reporter.


DirtyheartMTB got to sit down with three amateur female riders taking on this year’s ABSA Cape Epic. All three are spirited riders who share one common element, their love for the sport. Nadine, Nicki and Teresa share with us their run up to the big race and how they are preparing to tackle the untamed.

THE NEWBIE - Nicki Sutherland

Nicki is taking on her first ABSA Cape Epic. She is a seasoned rider and endurance sports fanatic. She has podiumed in many trail running events and local MTB races. The ABSA Cape Epic has always been a bucket list event for her and she got an opportunity to ride in the women's category when her partner needed a rider.  We look forward to watching her achieve this goal and see her claim her first Cape Epic finisher medal.

Give us a short run down of how you got your golden ticket to the big race.

The short version is that my friend (and now Epic partner) Michelle's partner pulled out.  I told her that I would love to do it with her if she wasn't able to find another suitable candidate.  After 2 weeks of anxiously mulling over my finances, we agreed to do it together and immediately both of us felt relieved and excited!

Share with us your toughest training week schedule leading up to the race or still to come.

Probably the toughest week was the week before Christmas.  Michelle put together a 4 day "training camp" for us.  I had to get up every day before 4 to drive through to Tokai.  I logged 23 hours that week, 330km.  But having amazing folks to train with makes even the toughest week seem like fun. 

One item you will definitely not be forgetting in your suitcase?

I like being prepared for everything.  So I have a lot on that list.  But on the top would be my sunblock, sunglasses, and camelback (it's got everything I need in it).

Greatest challenge you believe you may have to face during the race and how you plan on overcoming that?

I think my biggest fear/challenge is cramping.  I'm a bit of a genetic cramper.  So if I start cramping during any stage, it will make for a long and painful day.  I've been working on this by pre-loading with magnesium tablets every night before I go to bed, and I always carry them with me in case.  My partner knows that if I cramp we will just have to stop, take the pills, walk a little, and then keep going.

Best advice you have been given?

Use a massage package (I get chronic neck and shoulder pain during long rides).  Confirmation:  Wear your camelback!  I always get teased about my camelback, but while training with one of the Last Lions, he confirmed that it is a MUST for Epic and I felt justified

What are your thoughts on this year’s route?

On paper it looks intimidating.  Honestly, I've glanced at it but didn't want to overly obsess over it.  But I like to know what the route elevation graph looks like.  Each day will just be a "water point to water point" ride.  The nice thing is that I have ridden various parts of the route through the years.  But it's never the same.  Conditions always dictate a course.  Wind, temperature, terrain condition, etc.

Daily recovery strategy following every stage?

Eat, drink, clean up, legs up, nap, massage.

What is the first thing you will do after crossing that final finish line?

After getting off my bike, I plan on giving my partner a really long hug of relief and joy!  I suspect I may even be a tad emotional.  I hope a few of my friends will be able to make it so that I can share the moment with them.  Then pictures!

Advice for aspiring riders who want to take on the #untamed?

Maybe you should ask me this AFTER I've crossed the finish line   But what I can tell you now is this:  Nothing is beyond reach if you put your mind and energy into it.  You can never wait for the perfect time.  You are never completely "ready".  Sometimes you just have to say YES and then do what has to be done to get it done.  Anything in life can be achieved one pedal stroke at a time.  And your biggest asset is your mind.  There will always be good and bad days.  Just remember that you just need to keep moving forward.  It doesn't always have to be fast! 

A SECOND CHANCE - Nadine Smith

Nadine is tackling the ABSA Cape Epic for the second time. She entered last year in the women’s category and was one of the many unsuspecting victims of Stage 1’s relenting heat and beyond tough conditions. Over 80 teams failed to complete the grueling stage.  Although Nadine completed the stage she was advised by the medical race doctor to abandon the race due to severe dehydration and kidney failure. She made the tough call to withdraw and her partner continued racing solo. Nadine is one tough cookie and she jumped at the chance to tame the beast and tackle the race again in 2018. This year she rides with her husband in the mixed category.

Give us a short run down of how you got your golden ticket to the big race.

After my bad luck in 2017 with heat exhaustion and kidney failure I was super stoked when I received an Absa Pride entry for 2018 in October of 2017. The ABSA pride team is absolutely magnificent in making sure every rider is prepared as well letting the supporters also have a good time.

Share with us your toughest training week schedule leading up to the race or still to come.

Is there a single week? LOL… I would say it was January doing Attakwas, ABSA Pride training camp in Clarens, training hard in the week (in spite of racing) and working long hours (due to our year end) – all in 2 weeks.

One item you will definitely not be forgetting in your suitcase?

Sense of humor

Greatest challenge you believe you may have to face during the race and how you plan on overcoming that?

2018 Cape Epic is all  a mental game for me due to my first time ever "big failure" of a race in 2017. I just had a bad start of 2017 on the bike and felt like hanging up my bike. So for me it’s just getting to day 4 of Epic and knowing I'm half way and treating it as any other race/training ride. And of course - HAVE FUN.

Best advice you have been given?

“Never forget the reason why you ride!” -  2017 I forgot why I ride and it started being a burden more than stress relief or fun. Those few words from my coach & friend made me realize WHY I ride. I love being outside and riding my bike.

What are your thoughts on this year’s route?

I’m excited about it… Looks like longish days with a bit less climbing. The longer days are better- I’m not one for short and fast – so I'm a bit worried about the time trail.

Daily recovery strategy following every stage?

Steri Stumpies, Steri Stumpies and more Steri Stumpies...with a bit of rest and physio.

What is the first thing you will do after crossing that final finish line?

CRY! Just thinking of the finish makes me emotional. I'll also send a photo of the medal to my colleagues who think I’ve lost my mind.

Advice for aspiring riders who want to take on the #untamed?

Be well prepared – hours and commitment during the 5 months before Epic. If I’m not well prepared my mind starts playing games with me. And of course awesome training buddies makes the training fun.

THE RIDING REPORTER - Teresa Coetzee

Teresa has ridden four installments of the ABSA Cape epic and is a familiar face to both riders and staff. She is a lifestyle reporter for Media24 and reports on the race as a media rider. The experiences on the trail itself and the stories she witnesses first-hand as a rider and then a reporter, give her readers some great insight as to the happenings of the race from the very heart of it. Teresa is taking on the 2018 Cape Epic in the ladies category with her partner Bonny Swanepoel whom she rode with in 2017.

Give us a short run down of how you got your golden ticket to the big race.

Every year the Epic organisers put aside one or two media entries and I am very lucky and privileged to be one of them. I will ride as a media rider and I will be reporting on the event daily for my newspaper Beeld.

Share with us your toughest training week schedule leading up to the race or still to come.

I only learned last week that my application for a media entry was successful! So my toughest training week will be this coming week. I am riding the Route 66 mountain bike event in the Cradle of Human Mankind this weekend. Monday will be a rest day, (cause even Lance Armstrong said Mondays should be rest day.) Next week I will be doing three very high intensity watt bike sessions with my partner Bonny Swanepoel and then we will have two long and hard rides again over the weekend.

One item you will definitely not be forgetting in your suitcase?

There are quite a few items, but at stage races I tend to get one or two nights where I really struggle to sleep. Usually the night before the prologue and then again somewhere in the middle of the event. For those nights I take a light sleeping pill just to get a good nights rest. I also believe in the bum cream Antipeol, you buy it in the baby section of Dischem and it work wonders for saddle sores.

Greatest challenge you believe you may have to face during the race and how you plan on overcoming that.

For some reason the new time trail of Day five scares me the most. I am not a fast and furious rider and I hate time trails where all the fast riders behind you shout you out of the way. I’m planning to overcome it by just taking it km by km. If I need to get off my bike and walk or run, I’ll do it.

Best advice you have been given?

Just take it from the one water point to the next. Don’t let the race get bigger in your head than what it really is. Don’t chase anybody else, just ride within yourself and keep on moving.

What are your thoughts on this year’s route?

Every Epic is challenging in its own way and I think this year will be exactly the same. But the routes are always scenic and beautiful and I can’t wait to experience that.

Daily recovery strategy following every stage?

My partner Bonny recently invested in a Rapid Recovery system and we will take it with us to the Epic this year. The other advice is to eat, eat, eat! You have to eat as much as you can during Epic, make use of the Woollies recovery zone after each ride and eat well at dinner.

What is the first thing you will do after crossing that final finish line?

I will phone home, cause I don’t think my hubby and kids will be there at the finish line.  

Advice for aspiring riders who want to take on the #untamed?

Just do it! The Epic is really one of the biggest and most amazing events you will ever get to ride. And yes, let’s admit it, there is nothing like holding a Epic medal in your hand.

Thanks Ladies, we will be following your journey during the race and we wish you many happy miles

and a safe race!

For more information on the ABSA Cape Epic visit: www.cape-epic.com

#ABSACapeEpic #qa

+27 833759782

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