Tracy Moseley is a legend of British Mountain Biking. I remember when I was about 15 she even earned space on the pages of road cycling magazines on a blue and orange mega downhill rig. It all looked far too rad for me, so I stuck to the tarmac and in comparison sedate cyclo-cross racing.
In 2010 Moseley nailed the elusive DH World Championship. And with the rainbow bands secured, Moseley, who has been known to mix it up in cross country races announced she’d be riding the 2011 Cape Epic. “My friend and epic partner Anka Martin had told me about the event and planted the seed and the challenge a few years ago. Winning the worlds took away the pressure of downhill racing and gave me the time, motivation and desire for a new physical challenge."
Whilst Moseley is an extremely experienced racer, you could say she was headed into an unknown. A perfect candidate for an insight to the Absa Cape Epic race, and finally after all the years of reading about her in magazine I finally have a proper reason for a chat.
“Tough amazing experience," are the three words Tracy used to sum up her Cape Epic experience. The first word is rather ominous but the other swell a nervous excitement as I’m only 18 days until I start.
Her ability to descend a hill is unrivalled but that ability was rather curtailed during the race. “We did make up time on the downhills but being mid-pack in the race, around 300 out of 600 teams we had traffic all day, and often were not able to get chance to even ride some stuff as there were just too many people, on the climbs as well as the descents, all getting off and getting in the way." As you can imagine that is frustrating now being able to use one technical skills and Tracy readily admits that.
The sand and the railway sleeper section of the Epic race are well known. Most people I spoke to about the race come back and within the first few minutes tell me about the sand. Tracy agrees: “The sand was tough but it was an area where Anka and I passed loads of people and it actually sometimes gave some fun to what may have been a boring fireroad for many miles, so I quite liked it!"
The World Champ’s top tips centre on the little pre-ride rituals. “Take salt sachets", a tip from her team mate Anka, meant she didn’t get cramp. “You can’t keep the sun off. Just keep applying the suncream throughout the day. It was always part of the morning ritual of plastering yourself in suncream." She adds that lip moisturiser and chamois cream are the other must haves, must do’s of the event.
Looking at the pictures of Tracy racing at the Epic she rode with a saddlebag and rucksack. “You really do need to be self sufficient, my saddlebag had, tube, tyre levers and air canisters. Then my Osprey rucksack was my lifeline for water and food mainly. I also carried my phone, chamois cream (an essential), sun cream, salt sachets, a waterproof jacket, spare derailleur hanger, and between us we shared out chain tool, multi-tool, brake pads, small first aid kit and chainlube. I also used the rear pockets in my jersey to carry food I collected from the food stops along the way. I turned into a hamster and just kept storing food in case I needed it!"
Her worst moment of the race was her decision to wear two pairs of padded shorts in the hope it would be comfortable and help on the saddle, “It didn’t, I just resorted to standing up out of the saddle for hours on end." I’ll take that tip onboard and not be tempted to double chamois.
Of the experience of which she enjoyed, Tracy Moseley commented that she is 50/50 on doing it again. “I don’t think it would ever be the same again having done it once as you know what to expect and what the event is all about and how much it will hurt at times."
In her final sentence to me she warned “just keep drinking and taking salt tablets. Keep eating all day, just nibble, fill your pockets with the apple slices and jelly babies. And use the massage service, worth every penny!"
Tracy Moseley and Anka Martin rode for Downhiller for World Bicycle Relief finishing 14th in the women’s category. The pair rode the event for World Bicycle Relief in order to raise money to donate bikes to 10 schools in Zambia.
Tracy has begun her 2012 race campaign with her new team T-Mo, you can read her blogs on Bikemagic here.