Skip Navigation

Loitering within Tents

Press Release / 23.03.2019
/ © Absa Cape Epic - Greg Beadle

It is the most iconic image of all: the rider village at the Absa Cape Epic. 700 identical red tents, laid out to OCD perfection. For the bulk of the riders, this is home for seven nights, their me-space away from the hustle-bustle of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race.

The clover-leaf nature of the modern Epic, which sees two- to three-day stopovers in the same town, makes staying in a motorhome or even off-site in brick-and-mortar accommodation easier than the original Knysna to Stellenbosch route.

Those who take a comfier option lose out on much of the atmosphere of the Absa Cape Epic, even though the rider village is not for the faint of heart. Your neighbours are too close to hide either your or their nocturnal habits. You learn to recognise who is where by the timbre of the snore, the rasp of the morning cough. Working out you can lie diagonally, and get neither your head nor your feet dewy, takes a few days, as does creating the perfect system to make living out of one big race bag more adult than toddler. Which side of the tent to hang your wet stuff, to get the most sun. Sussing out the cleaning routine for the portaloos, so your morning meditation is regenerating and refreshing. Which ruddy dome will be furthest from the ruddy bagpiper, who wakes the riders (and the birds) at 05h15 each morning. It is like school camp, on steroids, and it is wonderful.

There is one team, each Race Village location, for whom the red carpet is rolled out (relatively speaking). Big Box Containers, one of the Absa Cape Epic's service providers, trucked in a converted container, with twin beds (real beds, not ground-bound mattresses), room to swing a hydration pack and even air conditioning. It remains on site, looking down on the sea of red tents, so the lucky winners of this comfort zone remain part of the vibe.

The first winners were the biggest fund-raisers on the Absa Cape Epic's GivenGain portal; Cansa Heroes Jacques Lotriet and Schalk van der Merwe, who raised more than R100 000 for Cansa. They spent two nights in luxury in Hermanus, before the Big Box moved to Oak Valley for three, where team KT18 took over for some well-earned coziness as the cool weather that has blessed the 2019 Epic turned noticeably chilly. We met this indomitable pair earlier this week - - and there wasn't even a short-list to decide who deserved the brief holiday from holiday camp. "It was such a bonus, those three nights," said Jaco, clearly not relishing the move back to the normal tents. "It made such a difference for us to be able to stand up and move around, especially with the extra administration we have with our prostheses. And the air conditioning was a treat."

Stellenbosch hosts the final two nights of the 2019 Absa Cape Epic, and the qualifying criterion to earn the air-conditioning as the heat ramped up for the first time saw Team Salty Balls cracking the nod for their ongoing and often hilarious social media presence around the event. Rumours that the rest of the village voted for them, are untested: riding their seventh Epic together, Stephen Salt and Andy Hodgson are exhausting to be around, with their non-stop repartee and infectious enthusiasm.

Breaking the news of their win at the finish of the brutal, hot Queen Stage was one of the highlights of the 2019 Epic: "This is our 46th stage at the Cape Epic. Every single night, we have slept in these tents." Stephen pauses, uncharacteristically speechless for a few minutes. Okay, seconds.

"Does it have air conditioning?"
"Real beds?"
"Can we go there now?"

[If you enjoyed this story and would like SleepMonsters to continue reporting on Adventure Racing then we need your help. Please support our Patreon campaign or make a donation via PayPal.]

More About ABSA Cape Epic

Schurter and Langvad Guide Their Newbies Home

High Fives for Annika and Anna

Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing Cruise to Overall Honours

Langvad and Van der Breggen back on top at Absa Cape Epic

Locals Woo the Queen

SA rider is Queen of Queen Stage

Even a Crash Cannot Stop Investec-songo-Specialized

Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing Storm Back Through the Time Trial

Drama on Stage 3 Sees Yellow Jerseys Change Hands

Anna and Annika Keep Their Perfect Record Intact

Hat trick for Schurter and Forster

Langvad / Van der Breggen Increase Their Absa Cape Epic Lead

Swiss Pair Consolidate Overnight Lead

Langvad and Van der Breggen Quickly Take Control

Cross Country Specialists Make Intentions Clear At Prologue

Untold Stories of the Absa Cape Epic

Last Lions Roar On in 2019

Battle Lines Drawn for 2019 Absa Cape Epic

Iron Cowboy Prepares To Tackle The Untamed African Mountain Bike Race

Mixed Aspirations for Triple World Champ, Óscar Freire

War Veterans to Battle Preconceptions By Taking On The Absa Cape Epic

Icon of South African Cycling to Ride his First Absa Cape Epic

Effervescent Hermida and Rodriguez Return to Master the Absa Cape Epic

Espargaró Swaps Leathers for Lycra at the Absa Cape Epic

ABSA Cape Epic

Support Adventure Racing

SleepMonsters Patreon


like us on facebook

Adventure Racing Tags

Eco-Challenge Fiji Islands, Rogue Raid, Wenger Czech Adventure Race 2020, The 25th Corsica Raid, Swiss Epic, PARS Turbo 2020, Lapland Wilderness Challenge, ÖTILLÖ World Series Engadin, The Lockdown, Sea to Sea Expedition Race, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Adventure Racing, Expedition Racing, Adventure Racing World Series, Eco Challenge, Adventure Racing European Series

Our Patrons

Adventure Race Croatia

Adventure Race Georgia

Danish AR Union

Open Adventure

Rootstock Racing


SleepMonsters Patreon

Thank you to all our

adventure racing


Adventure Race Croatia

Adventure Race Georgia

Danish AR Union

Open Adventure

Rootstock Racing

Tanz Navigation

-- -- --

Brian Gatens

-- -- --

Adventure Enablers

Chipp Dodd

Celia Nash

David Ellis

Erik Sanders

Graham Bird

Jakub Malik

Josh Hayman

Liam St Pierre

Magnus Foss

Nicola MacLeod

Strong Machine AR

-- -- --

Adrian Crane

Barbara Campbell

Dejna Odvody

Ivan Park

Klaus Mygind

Lars Bukkehave

Marco Ponteri

Nigel Davison

Rob Horton

Semyon Yakimov