Cape Epic – Extreme hardships, fantastic experience

Two Albstadt citizens dove head first into the toughest MTB adventure

Stephan Salscheider, who is jointly responsible for the organisation of the Worlds 2020 in Albstadt, is also looking for a sporting challenge. As a former mountain bike racer, he took part in the Cape Epic in South Africa 2 years ago together with the Albstadt mountain biker Ingolf Welsch, Race Director of the World Championship 2020. Shortly before the start of the world’s most difficult mountain bike race in South Africa on March 15, 2020, memories of this unique experience will come alive again.

In 2020, participants can once again look forward to 8 race days with 647 kilometres and 15,550 metres of altitude difference! For the top riders, the Cape Epic has already become part of the standard preparation program.

Here the MTB athletes get the necessary toughness for the rest of the season. Marathon specialists like Karl Platt or Alban Lakata are there, but also cross country riders like Manuel Fumic or Nino Schurter. Surprisingly, none of the top riders take the race lightly. A direct quote of the pros is “very hard, the hardest of all, difficult, dangerous, technical, scenically mega cool, the best race ever…”.

Especially for the Europeans the stage race is difficult, because they have to prepare mainly in winter conditions due to the early date, while the Africans are in the middle of summer. When Salscheider and Welsch rode the Cape Epic, they had a similar route plan as in 2020 – the last stage from Wellington to Val de Vie is even identical. It’s remarkable what the two men from Albstadt have achieved! Especially on the routes and tracks around their hometown Albstadt they completed their training sessions to be ideally prepared and to check in to South Africa as a strong team.

At the Cape Epic, the 2-man team has priority – mainly for tactical reasons but also for safety reasons. To stay fit for just one week under considerable strain is already a task in itself. But when both have to be fit, it’s a real challenge.

For hobby riders like Stephan Salscheider and Ingolf Welsch, a day on the bike at the Cape Epic usually lasted between 5-9 hours. A Scottish bagpipe player blew at 5:30 am every day for the start.

The MTB pros spend a maximum of 4 hours per day on the bike. However, professionals and hobby bikers alike face almost the same challenge. The hobby bikers need much longer, but because of this they have much shorter breaks in the camp.

One thing is certain for the two Albstadt men who are currently busy preparing for the World Championships in Albstadt in June – it’s that the Cape Epic is a mega bike adventure that every biker should experience. “I for my part haven’t had a better experience yet. This fantastic race in South Africa is unique!” said Salscheider. At the same time he adds: “The organisation is unparalleled worldwide: everything is meticulously prepared and perfectly implemented.” This is an important point for the organisation professional.