Aside from the toughest racing in the world, organising the stage race is a huge undertaking

Aside from being one of the toughest stage races in the world, the Absa Cape Epic is a huge undertaking for the organisers and everyone involved behind the scenes, the numbers making for some eye-opening reading.

In the race, it all comes down to numbers – riders’ attention narrows to tunnel vision, looking only at stage time, GC ranking, and the day’s maximum allotted time to complete the stage.

1206 riders rolled off the start ramp in Tokai Forest on Sunday 27 March. After eight grueling days of riding, 992 riders crossed the line at Lourensford Wine Estate, just under 12% didn't make it through the week. 52 of the men’s teams could not complete the 2011 event, but interestingly, all but 1 women’s team didn’t finish. That’s earned the fairer sex unlimited bragging rights for the year.

Then there’s the mind-boggling logistics: transport, electrical, security, production support and of course the building of three full-service race villages. The 2011 Absa Cape Epic used over 160 event-registered vehicles, including superlink trucks, transport vehicles, refrigerated vehicles, sprinters, minibuses, quadbikes and motorbikes.

With 280 tonnes of equipment, including 1700 chairs, 300 tables, 50 individual luxury showers, 140 portable toilets and 184000L of purified single-source drinking water, you’d imagine the crew would encounter the odd curve ball. With 7 years of hard-earned experience they’ve learned to think on their feet!

Once again, riders were fortunate enough to rely on Medi-Clinic as the official medical partner of the 2011 Absa Cape Epic. Dr. Basil Bonner, the race doctor, is a specialist emergency Medicine Physician and head of the Emergency Centre at Milnerton Medi-Clinic. During the 2011 event, we saw a total of 22 hospital referrals and seven hospital admissions.

Medi-Clinic treated a total of 1460 riders, which included fractures, saddle sores, wound care, strapping and dehydration and even kidney failure. The mere thought of this would make even those with iron constitution feel faint, but to Dr Bonner and his crack team, it’s business as usual.

Like with all things, the statistics tell a fascinating story, of the time and planning that goes into an event of this stature, but it still can never describe the human element: the resolve, determination, sense of achievement and the feeling of being part of the biggest mountain bike stage race in the world. For that, just take a look at the photographs.