This is the story of a very special mountainbike challenge. South Africa - one team - two riders - eight days - 739 kilometers - 16,000 m altitude gain - the toughest mountain bike race in the world: Cape Epic!The Unequal Team
Tino Käßner is a race cyclist who has lost his right leg in a suicide bomber attack when he was a soldier in Afghanistan, nine years ago. Jan Sallawitz is marketing manager and a passionate mountain biker - but has never participated in a mountain bike race. Together they form a very unlike team to challenge the ultimate mountain bike race challenge.
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 CC 3l RACE
backpack and above all, we want to show what’s possible if you have the right attitude. 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?