Downhill World Champion Tracy Moseley has been known to mix it up in cross country races, but this spring she will be going long by participating in the Cape Epic Mountain Bike Stage Race in South Africa from Marcy 27 to April 3. The race should help her get plenty of base fitness just weeks before the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Moseley will partner with Anka Martin, an established Cape Epic favourite who completed the event three times before.
Martin, who is from South Africa, believes that together with Moseley they make a great team. "We both love to ride our bikes and enjoy going downhill pretty fast. We're great friends and we can laugh and make fun of ourselves," said Martin. "We're not taking ourselves too seriously, and we're doing it for a great cause. As long as we have fun bombing down the hills and passing a few guys, we'll be happy."
"I think having been an athlete for so long with my major goal being to win the World Champs, when it finally happened I had this thought of 'now what ?!' I didn't have a new goal," said Moseley in her blog for British Cycling. "So within a few hours of winning I agreed to take part in the Cape Epic... For me..., it will be an all new experience consisting of eight days, 707km off road in the heat of the South African summer; I think it will be a worthy challenge!"
Asked what brings Martin back to the Cape Epic each year, she said, "I keep asking myself that same question, but this year, however, we are riding the Cape Epic for World Bicycle Relief in order to raise money so we can donate bikes to 10 schools in Zambia. I missed last year's event as I participated three years in a row prior to that and needed a break, and I was still paying off the costs incurred from the previous events."
Due to the fact that the two ladies live on different continents, they are not able to train together. "We get to ride and race downhill and compete in endurance races throughout the year, but Tracy lives in the UK and I live in the US, so we didn't get any riding time together for the race. We'll probably get to go on a few fun rides when we arrive in Cape Town next month."
Martin's training programme has been rather different than in previous years. "It started off with a very intensive yoga teachers' training course for six weeks, which gave me a great base to build from. Then I went to New Zealand for about six weeks where I rode the most amazing, technical, crazy trails ever - no specific training, just riding hard every day. For the last few weeks, I've just been getting in some longer road rides on my mountain bike and doing tons of yoga. Tracy and I are also competing in the Cape Verde Islands. After that, it's straight to Cape Town for some more long rides in the heat under African skies."
Martin is a vegetarian who has been tweaking her diet for the event. "Potatoes are my choice of food when riding! For the past couple of weeks I've been cutting back on alcohol and dark chocolate - my two vices. I just try to eat healthy, organic, fresh foods, and loads of avocado and beetroot. Nothing too crazy - one must just make sure you eat enough when you're doing so much training - as long as it's fresh, nutritious food."
Martin had some advice for those attempting the race. It takes determination, stubbornness, a great sense of adventure and an even greater sense of humour to successfully complete the Cape Epic. "It also helps if you like to be on your bike for extended periods at a time. It's very motivating to be racing for a reason; in our case, to support the World Bicycle Relief. To other participants I would say that they should bring their sense of humour and loads of chamois cream. Young athletes should get outside, appreciate the beauty of nature and just have fun on their bikes. Never grow up! If you're having fun, everything else will follow."
Martin is also fortunate to have her photographer husband, Sven Martin, at the Cape Epic, but they only manage to see each other for about 20 minutes every day. "He is very supportive, but also extremely busy with work during the event. It's kind of frustrating, because I know he's out there, but he can't help me with anything when I'm completely exhausted. He has to focus on his job and get all the images out. It's still really comforting to know that he can come whizzing by on a motorbike at any time with some supportive words. That's usually my highlight during those long days that can get pretty challenging at times."
With such a passion for riding her bike, Martin dedicates most of her time to it. "There's nothing better than exploring new trails. It's the ultimate freedom. When I'm not on my bike, I teach Vinyasa yoga. Other than that I love to travel, cook, camp, sew, read, eat and to snowboard in winter."