Update Update: Joel Stransky unfortunately crashed on the first day of the Epic and will be unable to complete the race this year. We wish him a speedy recovery.
When Elana Meyer first asked him to do the Cape Epic for charity, Joel Stransky said yes without really understanding what he had got himself into. But after completing the race, the cycling bug bit him hard, and this year Stransky will be doing his eighth Cape Epic. He is joined in Team Land Rover by his ex-Sharks teammate, Jeremy Thompson, who has finished the race five times.
The 2017 Absa Cape Epic will cover 691km of tough terrain over eight days of ultra-challenging riding. Over the race, the accumulated vertical gain will be 15 400m - which means there are plenty of mountains to climb. It's the most televised mountain bike ride in the world, and its status makes it a must-do for pros and amateurs alike.
'At the time, cycling was a good tonic for me,' says Stransky. 'I was working long hours and eating badly, and I wasn’t making time for exercise.' The challenge of completing the tough Cape Epic race was just what he needed to get back in shape.
Stransky says they are going to work hard to achieve the best position possible in the Grand Masters category. But whether you’re just riding to finish or aiming for a podium spot, preparation involves serious time in the saddle. Using technology on and off the bike is helping cyclists monitor their performance better, manage fatigue levels, and ride at a sustainable pace during the race.
The apps that help Joel go further
'Like many other riders, I use apps such as FitTrack (Android) and TrainingPeaks (Android and iOS) to keep track of my progress. I use a power meter during training to get an accurate measure of my workouts, which helps me set goals and manage fatigue levels,' says Stransky.
Despite setting themselves a goal of doing well in the Grand Masters category (Stransky says they’ll ride as hard as possible without hurting themselves), this year’s ride is about having fun, too. 'I’ll be using my GoPro as much as possible to capture some riding memories with my mate Jeremy Thompson. We played 80 matches together for the Sharks and shared a dorm in boarding school, so it’s a dream come true to go on a week-long ride with him,' says Stransky.
They are riding for Team Land Rover, along with Gary Kirsten and John Smit, two legends in South African sport.
Tech in sports
Technology is having a significant impact on how we participate in and watch sports. Stransky believes we’re just seeing the start of what technology can offer fans. 'With goal-line technology in soccer, and reviews in rugby and cricket, we’re seeing more accuracy in referees’ decision-making. In high-stakes matches, mistakes can affect the outcome, and using technology means we’re getting the correct results most of the time,' says Stransky.
The use of technology also enables coaches to make substitutions based on player fatigue levels. With every game, an incredible amount of data are collected about the game and players’ performance. There is great potential to make use of this data during the game to provide fans with more in-depth information.
Follow the action
Dates: 19-26 March
Watch a live stream of the Cape Epic every day on www.cape-epic.com.