It's tough enough to ride the Cape Epic, but behind the scenes over 700 staff and crew work night and day to stage the biggest full service stage race in the world. One of the integral teams servicing the riders, ensuring that their luggage arrive safely at the new destination and is sorted by number in time before their arrival, is the baggage crew – alias "the baggies".
Throughout the week they lift a total weight of 416 tons of more than 1,000 rider bags (averaging 26kg each) by loading and unloading the baggage truck. Their all time record in loading the truck and sorting the bags in numerical order is an unbelievable 20 minutes! The fourteen strong team, led by University Professor Tiaan Pool, comprises sport management, tourism and marketing students. Organizers speculate that the high degree of education of the baggage team helps them be so efficient.
Before departing from the previous stage, they pack the truck in rough numerical order. Upon arrival they lay out the tent floor with ropes to structure the numerical off-loading of the bags.
"Good music keeps our guys going, and to warm up early in the mornings we have an exercise class," said Pool. "We believe that we must make the life of our clients, the 'riders', as easy as possible. I always tell my students that we must never argue with the riders – they are tired and emotional and might say things they normally wouldn't. And if riders said something they regretted later, they always came back to apologise." The bag team also works hand in hand with local porters from the various communities who take the bags after the riders have checked them out, and carry them to the riders' tents for the exhausted mountain bikers.