The Absa Cape Epic is arguably the most well known mountain bike stage race in the world, but a lot more goes on behind the scenes than the slick, made-for-TV edits, and curated action photos let on. We tried to capture some of the on the ground action at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic.
The Absa Cape Epic circus kicks off with registration at the V&A Waterfront.
Working at the Cape Epic gives you a taste of the race experience, staying in small tents and eating the same food as you would if you were riding.
For the media, this is the office. This year we occupied wine cellars, wedding venues, classrooms, and farm halls as we followed the eight days of racing through the Western Cape.
Internet connectivity is vital for reporting on the daily racing. The Dimension Data team did a superb job of bringing top class internet to remote areas. We couldn't resist a speed test which saw the needle passing 130 mbps.
Helicopters are the soundtrack to the Cape Epic.
The culmination of each days effort for organisers, media, and riders is the finish line. It's a well planned area with everyone having their place.
The photographers and their motorcycle pilots need to plan each day so that they do not get lost and miss out on the action. There is also the bonus of finding that prime setting.
Getting a bird's eye view of the action from the chopper is a highlight for many of the photographers. Ewald Sadie throwing some horns.
When things go wrong, fixes need to be made. While others take a break from the racing to cool off.
Mediclinic had their hands full this year. The heat of the opening stages took its toll with many riders suffering from dehydration and heat exhaustion. There are also many cases of saddle sores needing lancing.
Roving the race village for pro bike checks is a big part of our afternoon Epic schedule. Sometimes it takes a bit convincing before the mechanics let us walk off with their rider's bike.
Riding the Absa Cape Epic is enough exercise for some, but not everyone. Riaan Manser charging for the corner flag.
Beware the high-pressure hose.
With the average bike value in 2016 being R76,000, I'll let you do the math.
Most of the professional teams have their mechanics work on the bikes in the camper van area but for the majority of riders their bikes get tended to by mechanics in Tweede Kamp. Often into the early hours of the morning.
Some of the pro teams, however, prefer to rely on their own spares and nutrition at the water points.
Scott Tech Zones provided support to all riders at each of the water points on the stage.
While it might seem like a bit of an unnecessary pampering, the riders were all super chuffed to have a clean cloth on hand to get the dust and mud off their eyewear.
The pro team managers meet with the race officials each day.
The race village stretched out at Elandskloof Farm near Greyton. Visible are the rider's tent, the food tents, the start finish area, and, in the background, the camper van village. Out of shot below the helicopter are the crew and media areas and the mechanics in Tweede Kamp.
Tent life.Dinner with a show. Prize giving for the day and a highlights wrap up for the riders.
The water points provide physical and mechanical relief for the participants. Largely stationed by enthusiastic volunteers, the water points are good place to watch the race if you want to experience some of the race vibes.
It's a tough schedule for the team preparing the nightly highlights packages.
Yes, e-bikes doing the Absa Cape Epic, but in the name of spectacular POV live footage and 360 degree videos.
Live broadcasts do not simply make themselves. There was an impressive array of equipment on hand.
The crowds at the end of the eighth day at Val de Vie.
It all comes to end for the riders once they get that official finish line photo.
An Anthony Churchyard self-portrait, with some strange rocks. Big thanks to Anthony for supplying us with many great images during the Absa Cape Epic. Besides this feature, he helped us with the Bikes of the Epic series as well as race images from out on the stages.