Qhubeka is proud to introduce our second team of fundraisers riding the 2014 Absa Cape Epic for us – Stephan Venter and Marthinus Steyn.
Stephan and Marthinus are both investment specialists at Discovery Invest, and they share a love of adventure sports. Marthinus was originally a roadie who started MTB riding eight years ago and also enjoys Ironman, canoeing, travelling and wildlife, while Stephan began riding when he was just 13 years old and loves kite-boarding and adventure motorbiking for extra thrills.
Stephan has ridden the Cape Epic before, once in 2005 with a Swiss-German partner and once in 2009 with a varsity friend. This will be his third Cape Epic, and he says it’s good to be back for more adventures.
Marthinus is riding his first Cape Epic with Stephan. “I’ve always wanted to do a stage race with my great varsity mate, Stephan,” he says. “The guy has got calves as big as watermelons!”
He adds that he has long been aware of Qhubeka through the professional cycling scene and the link with Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung, and he’s excited to be riding to help us mobilise more people with bicycles. “Qhubeka does what we should all be doing: empowering people by way of being healthy and mobile through cycling!” he enthuses.
Stephan notes that the pair chose to ride for Qhubeka because we are an official Absa Cape Epic charity partner. “When people hear you cycle, the first question they ask you is, ‘Have you done the Argus?’ So, after 13 years of hearing the question a million times, I looked up charities who are involved in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, which then led me to check who the official Cape Epic charities are, and I basically emailed Qhubeka and asked if they had any spots available. Timing and opportunity makes luck!” he says.
Both men are looking forward to the upcoming race. “The build-up is almost just as much fun as the race,” says Stephan. “You go on training weekends with mates and get to spend quality time with them in your preparation. The fact that I get to ride the race with a very good friend makes it extra special, and the possibility of earning an Amabubesi jersey (for completing the Epic three times) is another big bonus that excites me.”
Marthinus says he can’t wait to ride his first Epic. “I’m training extremely hard after a good base from Ironman 70.3 in January,” he says. “I’m doing long weekend rides combined with shorter road cycling in training groups on weekdays.”
Stephan is also busy preparing. “I’m planning to go and scout some of the routes around Greyton as I know the owners of The Oaks farm where we will stay for the mid section of the race,” he says. “I might do some riding in Grabouw area, but otherwise I’ll ride in Jonkershoek as often as possible, combined with some road rides to save time.”
The duo aims to finish the race in the top 25% (the top 150 teams), although Marthinus says that even a finish would be great. “Another goal would be to have as few mechanical problems as possible, and to be able to fix it ourselves,” he adds. Stephan also wants to soak up the scenery and “be present” in every moment of the incredible race.
The pair is confident that they’ll make a good team. “We are very strong willed and success-driven people,” explains Marthinus. We both have a positive mindset and nothing is too big to handle.”
He’s looking forward to the camaraderie and says the biggest challenges for him will probably be pacing himself when he’s feeling good (“especially as a born roadie” he jokes) and the constant climbing in the heat.
Stephan has his own worries. “I hope Marthinus is not a crazy person when he is tired – I have seen people lose all their inhibitions at the Epic!” he laughs. “But seriously, with strong partner and a positive mindset, what have you got to lose, other than your water bottle on a rocky descent?”
Stephan says the highlights for him will likely be the Woolworths food package or the first beer after a big stage. “The race organisers have really partnered with strong corporate, which makes the experience very enjoyable,” he says. “I struggle with cramps on the first day if it is very hot, so it will be interesting to see the roadie push two mountain bikes while I recover.”
All jokes aside, Marthinus ends on a more serious note. “Anyone fit and able to ride the Cape Epic should take a moment of reflection on behalf of those who will never be able to,” he says.
Qhubeka wishes Stephan and Marthinus all the best as they prepare to tackle one of the world’s most challenging MTB stage races.