In just over a week’s time, there will be shouts, cheers and maybe even some tears (of happiness) at the finish line for all those brave riders who have completed one of the toughest mountain biking races in the world. The ABSA Cape Epic. This 8-day stage race covers 691km of fearless racing, 15 400m of total vertical climbing (twice the height of Mt. Everest) and is an unbelievable test of endurance, skill and character.
Q&A with #TeamTsogo
As the Official Accommodation Partner to the race, Tsogo Sun will be represented both on and off the bike by two fabulous individuals. We caught up with Melanie and Deon Brenner – our two #TeamTsogo riders who will be taking on the UNTAMED this year.
Q: Mel and Deon, in just a few days’ time you will be in the starting blocks for the challenge of a life-time, how are you feeling?
Mel: I am a little nervous, but mostly very excited. I know we are ready! Riding the Epic is a dream come true. How can you say you are a mountain biking chick and then not have the Epic on your bucket list? And I am clearly a little crazy…
Deon: Also a bit nervous, but excited. I know that we’ve put in the training and I know that we have what it takes to successfully complete the Epic, so I am going into it with a confident, positive attitude. For me the Epic is the pinnacle of mountain biking races. I also like a proper challenge and pushing the limits.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the race?
Mel: The organisers have put together a challenging adventure for us, and while we will be taking it one day at a time, I cannot wait to roll over the finish line on day 8, knowing that I have tamed the “untamed”. Oh yes, and spending time with Deon – we can never be more than 2 minutes apart!
Deon: Being with Mel in nature riding our mountain bikes for 8 days in a row, and of course rolling through the finish line at Val de Vie, knowing that we’ve completed one of the toughest endurance events on the planet.
Q: What are you least excited about?
Mel: Having to squeeze 8 days of gear, equipment and provisions into (in my opinion) a fairly small trolley bag. On a serious note, 8 days of long hours on a bike is going to be tough on the body.
Deon: The practical side of things of having to plan and pre-pack all our kit and nutrition and then fitting everything into the bags. Luckily Mel is an absolute genius when it comes to packing, so I’m sure we’ll be just fine.
Q: What’s been the most important part of your training?
Mel: I had to focus on getting my power levels up, so I have been doing a lot of interval and strength training under the supervision of Coach Gavin Horton, all the while keeping the fitness levels and technical training intact. Consistency was the key element to our training. One of my favourite quotes is “you can’t expect to succeed if you only put in work on the days you feel like it”.
Deon: Dedication, consistency and sticking to our training program, while at the same time ensuring that our nutrition is adequate and appropriate. An important part of our preparation was also fine-tuning our race pace/strategy so as to ensure that we ride at a pace that is comfortable for 8 days, but still fast enough so that we don’t risk missing the daily cut-off time, and have sufficient time to recover for the next day’s stage.
Q: How does it feel to be riding as #TeamTsogo this year?
Mel: I am very honoured to represent Tsogo Sun and forever grateful to John van Rooyen, Ravi Nadasen and Jaco Boshoff for choosing us to fly the Tsogo Sun flag this year. The support from my Tsogo Sun family has been incredible – I am going to make you proud!
Deon: It is a huge honour to be associated with Tsogo Sun and I am very grateful to Tsogo Sun for affording me the opportunity to ride with Mel. The well wishes that we have received from everyone has been absolutely amazing! I’d also like to thank our coach, Gavin, without whom we would most definitely not have been able to take on a challenge like this!
About Mel and Deon:
#TeamTsogo, otherwise known as Team Brenner, has been a team off-the-bike for 30 years. While they have always been fit and active, the cycling bug bit about 5 years ago when Deon eventually gave in to Mel’s constant nagging. Deon is the owner of a Specialist Investment Industry Recruitment agency and Mel is a proud Tsogo Sun employee (Financial Manager – Cape Region).