stage 4 - more racing
Carina Mohr is racing her way through the Absa Cape Epic in a bid to become an Epic Legend
The Absa Cape Epic is the Pinnacle of the Epic Series. Held over 8 days every March in South Africa's Western Cape the route changes every year and spans around 700km and usually features around 16000m of climbing. The event draws the top professional mountain bike racers from around the globe, but the true heroes of the race each year, are the amateurs who take on the challenge of The Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. There are various ways for amateurs to enter the race: Early bird entries — which sell out in record time, every year; and, aspiring participants have a unique opportunity to secure a team entry for themselves and their partner by participating in Epic Series Qualifier events.
The Epic Series is a world showcase of mountain bike stage racing over 2300 kilometres on the most iconic trails in the most beautiful riding locations. Featuring more than 51 300 gruelling metres of climbing. These events offer qualification slots via performance and a draw allocation, with a nominal fee that goes to support one of the official Absa Cape Epic Charity Partners.
Carina Mohr and Nina Hartleb of Scott Sports Germany qualified through the 4Islands MTB Croatia. This is the quintessential European destination race. It features hidden coves lined by the turquoise waters of the Adriatic, a backdrop of hills and jagged peaks as well as quaint villages rich with old-world charm. And trails, amazing trails. Which are reached by ferries - like we said, an experience unlike anything else.
“4Islands was a special race,” says Mohr who comes from an Enduro racing background. “The terrain was so different to what we are used to in other stage races such as the SPAR Swiss Epic.” Mohr’s experience at 4Islands was made even more special by the fact that she stayed on a luxury boat. The race offers two main accommodation options: Teams can either stay in the race hotels and take the race-organised ferry transfers; or, choose to add to the Adriatic experience by staying on one of the partner boats, as Mohr did. There are various boat packages, all featuring a famous host who not only provides all the information riders need for each stage of the race, but also post-race entertainment.
It was during this race that she registered her interest to race the Absa Cape Epic, which has always been a dream. “I was on the way to Riva del Garda Bike Fest and received an email from the organisation confirming I had qualified — I was overjoyed, I never thought I’d get to race in Africa.”
If Mohr crosses the Absa Cape Epic finish line at the Grand Finale at Val de Vie on Sunday 26 March, her trip to Africa will be capped off by becoming an Epic Legend too. The Epic Legend loyalty program offers a celebrated award for competing in the different Epic Series Legend races (two of either the 4Islands MTB Croatia, Andorra Epic, SPAR Swiss Epic) as well as the Absa Cape Epic.
The Race That Measures All is no African safari holiday, however. “It’s been super tough on the body — hard on the legs and upper body,” Mohr says, conceding that she is more used to manicured European trails than rugged African terrain. She has adapted pretty fast though, “the Toyota Tough section was really good on Thursday,” she mentioned after Stage 4. “It was so much fun — really fast with great berms and a few jumps. I loved it!”
Quite surprisingly (and perhaps as a throwback to her Enduro days), Mohr is tackling the Untamed African terrain with flat pedals, possibly/probably the only rider in the field to do so and one of very few to ever done so. “I can’t ride downhill fast without them,” she says. “I just don’t have the confidence when clipped in.” While she is enjoying the experience and challenge she will do a few things differently if she ever has the opportunity to return again. “With all this rain, maybe a bigger camper!”