From March 23-28, 1,200 riders will be tackling Cape Epic: eight days and 800km of the world's toughest mountain-biking team trial in the South African Cape. On top of the sheer distance, there's also 15,000 metres of climbing to do.
Sounds ridiculously hard? That's why we caught up with the two regular Joes (actually, their names are Jer and Dan) who will be flying the British flag in South Africa, and all on behalf of Variety, the children's charity, and The JAG Foundation.
So, aside from extraordinary stamina and hamstrings that could crush watermelons, what else will these two need before they embark up the mountains? FHM catches up with them to find out…
01 The gym is your friend and you'll need some good music to get you through those hours on the treadmill. Anything by Green Day, Rolling Stones, The Chemical Brothers, The Pixies and the Foo Fighters tends to keeps us going.
02 Do your homework. You need to know the course as each of the eight days are brutal in their own way. Stage one on day two is designed by the organisers to catch people out and reduce the field. Surviving Stage one will be a challenge in itself.
03 A little bit of luck. Given that this is one of the toughest bike races in the world, it might be worth investing in a few superstitions. We’re strongly considering growing lucky beards, or might even be willing to start tuning into Teletubbies each morning, Goran Ivanisevic-style.
04 Stock up on snacks. On long rides you need to stock up on carbohydrates and we eat energy gels on the go. But after five or six hours of being in the saddle and eating sweet-tasting gels, you'll be craving savoury, salty foods. A good salami sandwich does the trick. We always carry a bag of gummy bears too.
05 Teamwork is essential. Teams are disqualified if riders breach the two-minute rule (meaning that team members cannot be more than two minutes ahead of the other). Each rider has different skills that they’ll use to help the other so, while one may be better at climbing, the other might fare better on single trail, or downhill riding. It's essential you work together to overcome your weaknesses.
06 Be ready to push. If one of the team is experiencing difficulties, it’s up to the other to encourage and help push the weaker rider up any challenging climbs.
07 Embrace the fear. Acute fear of the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) is constantly running through our minds and helps to keep us on track with our training.
08 Look forward to the end. Lastly, never underestimate the pull of an ice cold beer that waits just beyond that finishing line.
Dan and Jer are riding in support of Variety, the Children’s Charity dedicated to supporting children throughout the UK who are sick, disabled or disadvantaged. You can donate here.