Cape Town - Nino Schurter and partner Lars Forster won the 2019 edition of the Absa Cape Epic which finished at Val de Vie Estate on Sunday.
We sat down with Schurter and asked how he trains and prepares for a race such as the Cape Epic.
1. How do you mentally prepare yourself for huge races such as the Cape Epic?
Schurter: The most important thing is that I make sure I've trained to the best of my ability in the lead up to the big race day. This ultimately makes sure I'm in a good mental state because I know I trained my hardest. One of my key mental fitness tips is to make sure you are aware of your target and develop a strategy - a routine that you can depend on while in the race. This is a crucial part of mental fitness and preparation. And of course, having the strong willpower to reach that finish line.
2. What do you think of the trails here in South Africa compared to those in Switzerland?
Schurter: The trails in South Africa are completely different to Europe: dusty and loose surface. That's why we spent quite a bit of time training in South Africa in advance, to get used to the trail conditions.
3. Can you give us the top 5 essential products every mountain biker requires - besides the bike of course! - when taking part in a race?
Schurter: A race like the Cape Epic requires a few different things compared to the traditional cross-country race I normally do. 1. You need a good partner, 2. A set of good tools to be able to fix everything on your bike, 3. A tyre repair kit, 4. Excellent race nutrition: bar, gels and a sport drink, 5. Performance Eyewear with PRIZM lenses to protect your eyes from the sun/dust and to be able to read the trail best in the difficult light conditions.
4. In your opinion do you think the right pair of sunglasses improves and enhances your vision on the trails?
Schurter: It's essential! Light conditions are really difficult at the Cape Epic, as they change dramatically during the race. PRIZM lenses help me see the details to keep on the right line.
5. What makes the Cape Epic so special?
Schurter: It's more like an adventure than a race. I really like the atmosphere at the race villages, it's like being at a music festival but everybody is addicted to sport.
6. What is your training regime prior to such huge competitions?
Schurter: I make sure I have ample sleep, so no late nights out as sleep is so important for a healthy mind and body. Of course, training is key, so I've been doing longer rides and training on South African soil to make sure I'm physically prepared and know what to expect on the South African terrain. The most obvious one that people tend to forget is to eat properly; there's no point training so hard before a race and not consuming foods that are going to benefit you and make your body stronger and healthier.
7. Word of advice for first timers taking part in the Cape Epic?
Schurter: Be prepared for everything. The Cape Epic is unpredictable. In South Africa, it's scorching hot one minute, then super-windy or rainy the next, so you have to ensure you're ready for anything. And just, have fun; you're on an adventurous ride crossing awesome terrain so take it all in and enjoy!