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Cape Epic 2019: Tips for the “Grand Departure”

March is the month of the Epic. We’ve been preparing for months, thinking about the one week of the year where we get to drop everything and pedal. It’s a great feeling arriving at this point in our training. The hard work is done, and now we can sit back and look forward to this prestigious event.

It’s the beginning of the biggest week of riding most of us have ever done. Whether it’s hours on the bike, or meters of climbing… it’s big! We are debuting our legs to the most enjoyable sufferfest it will come across this year. The prologue is the send off we all deserve, and one that we should think carefully about when it comes to our effort towards it.

21km sending us straight up Table Mountain seems daunting, yet manageable. Some of us will use it as a warm up for the days that follow, and others will want to send it full throttle to ensure a good seeding on stage 1. Ultimately the option is up to you, and here are some tips that will help you make your debut to the ABSA Cape Epic one to remember:

Tip #1: Know Your Goal

What is your strategy going into this race? Are you going for a top 100 overall? Or perhaps entering a journey of overcoming 8 days of hard riding in a row? Knowing your end goal helps you strategize for how to begin the race. Chat to your partner about what their expectations are for the week and think about whether to use the prologue as an opener or a way to seed yourself higher for stage 1.

Tip #2: Know Your Strengths

The prologue is filled with some technical sections that can easily throw you off course if not prepared. Know your technical strength and don’t take risks here. Especially on the first day! Those going off early will have the benefit of a smooth trail to ride on, but as the day progresses, more difficulties arise with the breaking bumps, newly formed ruts, and the soon familiar dust. Pick your spots to put power down on the pedals, and make sure you stay safe through the risky sections.

Tip #3: #ConquorAsOne

We all assume that we know our partners inside out going into such a demanding stage race. Riding together and racing together sometimes bring out new attributes that we don’t expect. Remember that the two of you become a unit. Always take into consideration the efforts and lines you put in and how they might affect your other half. Can your partner handle that acceleration? Or will it hurt them for the rest of the week? Can they follow your line down the mountain? Or do you need to ensure that you provide them with the safest route possible. Make sure you two stay connected in every single way.

Tip #4: Preparation is Key

Yes, you’ve done the training, the long, hard slogs on the bike to prepare you for those awesome stages. But remember the prologue is only 21km! Short and sweet, which means the intensity is higher than usual. A proper warm up will help prepare the body for the sharp accelerations needed to get you over the mountain. It’s amazing how a pre-race spin can improve not only your performance, but your recovery too. Look forward to it, as soon as Sunday arrives, the routine of - warming up, racing, warming down, recovery, massage, eat, sleep, eat, sleep - begins!

Tip #5: Embrace it

All these tips seem to unleash the nervous excitement. We can’t stop preparing and counting down is driving us crazy! This adventure is going to bring out the best and worst in us. It will turn us inside out and help us recognize the true meaning of team work. We will come out of this stronger, and the final tip that I can give is to simply embrace the process. Every memory will be a good one, with new lessons and accomplishments provided at every stage of the race.

See more Prologue details on the official Cape Epic website:

See you out there,

Sarah Hill

BSc Exercise Science - Sports Nutrition

BA - Sports Psychology

Sarah currently races professionally at UCI level, and enjoys cross country, as well as marathon and stage racing. Her most remarkable achievements of 2018 include her wins at the Trans Baviaans, as well as both Tankwa Trek and Joberg2c. Sarah is proud to have qualified to represent South Africa this year at the African Continental Cross Country Champs, that will be hosted in Nambia. In 2019 she will also aim for the Elite Women's African Leaders Jersey at the Absa Cape Epic.

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