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Onelife 26

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Share the passion of a Land Rover-loving community in a remote corner of India | Experience the thrills of driving on ice in the Range Rover Velar | Explore stunning Donegal with seafarer Monty Halls and his family | Relive the child-like sense of wonder captured at the Above & Beyond Tour | See why the Range Rover PHEV impressed mountaineer Jimmy Chin | Encounter the most powerful Defender: the Classic Works V8 special

CAPE EPIC MOUNTAIN BIKE

CAPE EPIC MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE C A P E F E A R The fearsome Cape Epic is one of the toughest mountain bike races on Earth. Plotting its ever-changing route is almost as hard as completing the race, but made easier thanks to a group of dedicated route planners and their Land Rover vehicles STORY L U K E P O N S F O R D 48

Into the sun: with some of the toughest routes of any mountain bike race on the planet, riders in the Absa Cape Epic are often faced with extreme terrain and insufferable temperatures PHOTOGRAPHY: ABSA CAPE EPIC/ NICK MUZIK When New Zealand rugby legend Carlos Spencer claims that a bicycle race is a lot tougher than playing for the All Blacks rugby team, you know that he’s talking about one hell of a bicycle race. And the Absa Cape Epic is just that, but in a setting that’s closer to the sun-dappled heavens. With South Africa’s mountainous Western Cape region serving as its backdrop, the Cape Epic is the world’s biggest and toughest endurance mountain bike race. Its combination of distance, climbing and technical sections give the race a ‘hors catégorie’ (beyond category) classification by cycling’s international governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). 1,300 riders – male and female, from aspiring amateurs to world-class professionals – racing in 650 two-person teams face a Herculean eight-day challenge that sees them covering 406 miles of harsh gravel roads, rocky climbs, technical descents and fast forest tracks that weave their way through glorious vineyards and indigenous forests, across fathomless ravines and along magnificent coastlines. However, with a knee-weakening 44,390 feet of steady climbing over the course of the eight days, there’s little time for riders to enjoy the scenery. From its beginnings in 2004 as an all-comers mountain bike event with around 200 riders taking part, the Cape Epic has grown into a truly international date on the competitive mountain biking calendar. Nowadays, each year attracts around 1,300 riders from around the world. It’s also become increasingly difficult, a true test of riders’ mettle and inner strength, with Land Rover Technical Terrain sections specially designed to challenge even the hardiest of competitors. Extreme gradients, vertiginous descents, large rocks and loose shale make cycling these sections something of an ordeal for the Cape Epic riders, not to mention the race organization’s team of route-planning drivers, who rely on a fleet of Land Rover vehicles to scout this jagged terrain and plan the routes months ahead of the main event. As the route changes every year, this is no easy task. Both planners and vehicles are put through their paces to make sure the best paths, tracks and climbs are identified, tested and finally added to the tour. “These days there are so many constraints on the route and there are so many requirements on the villages that host the Cape Epic that we literally have to plan the route 18 months in advance,” says Kevin Vermaak, the founder of the Cape Epic race. “The terrain changes, farms get sold, borders are created between the farmlands. This is very much a moving target because you have a drought, a fire or a river flooding and you’ve got to be changing the route 49

 

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Land Rover’s Onelife magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go above and beyond.

Land Rover vehicles go above and beyond, to help you make the most of your world. The latest issue of Onelife delivers this philosophy to your living room with evocative narrative and stunning photography. Experience a rich variety of perspectives from around the globe: from eco-innovators in China to road-testing in Greece and modernist architecture in Germany

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