Inspiring tale of Cape Epic’s oldest rider

The 63-year-old Malan van Rensburg from Pretoria is the oldest participant in this year’s Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race.

The event will take place from March 21 to 28 and kick-off on the slopes of Table Mountain, finishing eight days and 685km later at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West.

Van Rensburg’s partner in the race, 58-year-old Gerrie Steyn, will be doing his 6th Epic this year. ”We train together approximately twice a week,” says van Rensburg.

Van Rensburg mentioned that over the last 20 weeks, he has tried to average 15 hours of training per week. ”I do a mix of fast, slow, hill climb and flat training as much as I possibly can around Pretoria. We train in a group, of which the majority are also preparing for the Epic, and all of them are younger than me,” says Van Rensburg.

Van Rensburg will be doing his fourth Epic this year. ”I participated in 2005, 2007 and 2008, and was the eldest finisher in both 2007 and 2008.”

Two weeks after van Rensburg completed the 2007 Absa Cape Epic, he discovered he had lymphoma.

”After the diagnosis, I received three doses of chemotherapy and 15 sessions of radiotherapy. This kept me from cycling for six months, after which I began training again in September 2007, and in 2008 I completed the Epic,” says van Rensburg. ”I hope this may also serve as motivation for anyone facing personal obstacles.”

He spends his free time going on four-wheel-drive trips into Africa, walking his dogs, bird watching and visiting his granddaughter. ”I describe myself as an ordinary individual, though slightly fixated on cycling,” says van Rensburg.

When asked how it came about he entered the Epic, he commented: ”I heard about the race and wanted to test my ability and endurance. After completing the first one, I enjoyed it so much and knew I would do it again.”

Van Rensburg feels there are many factors that will contribute to successfully completing the race. ”It’s very important to eat, drink and sleep properly during training and especially during the race.

”Obviously the time you spend training will have an influence on you performance during the race, and also to have a good bike service package is important. I feel well prepared, even though my hours are slightly down from last year.”

For those not participating in the full race, organisers of the Epic are putting out a call for entries into the one-day mountain bike race, the MTN Cape Times Vigne à Vigne. This race takes place on the Lourensford Wine Estate, the finish venue of the Absa Cape Epic, on the last day of the nine-day race. — Sapa

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