Carson Beckett and Eli Kranefuss, two mountain bike athletes on The Feed’s High Performance Team, recently took on the challenge of participating in the Cape Epic, an eight-day, 700 km mountain bike race in South Africa. The Cape Epic is the longest and largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world, with a different route each year. We caught up with Carson and Eli to hear about their experience during this grueling race.
Carson has been biking for over a dozen years, starting at a young age under the influence of his father and his friends. He gradually transitioned from local bike races to international cross-country and marathon races. On the other hand, Eli began his cycling journey as a road biker but eventually found his passion in mountain biking. He competed in local mountain bike races and later ventured into international races.
Both Carson and Eli had prior experience with stage races. Carson had raced in the Swiss Epic last year, a last-minute decision to race the "sister" event, while Eli had participated in the Breck Epic. However, the Cape Epic presented a new level of challenge and competition for them. The race demanded extensive training and preparation. Carson mentioned that riders needed to dedicate at least a year to training if they were starting from a basic level of fitness. He had focused more on XCO, which is a different style of racing, so adapting to the demands of Cape Epic required additional preparation. The race required careful planning for accommodations, meals, and logistics. Participants had the option to stay in on-site tents or arrange their own accommodations. Carson and Eli chose to sleep in an RV, which provided some comfort and the ability to cook their own food.
During their training, Carson and Eli paid close attention to their fueling strategies. Carson, being a high sodium sweater, focused on getting enough sodium and relied on products like NEVERSECOND gels and drink mix and Skratch drink mix with higher sodium to meet his hydration and caloric needs. He also incorporated some whole foods and Feed Formula into his nutrition plan. Eli, on the other hand, experimented with different fueling approaches and found that a combination of high-carb drink mixes and gels worked best for him. Eli leaned on Skratch and Sis Beta Fuel Chews throughout the race for his fuel.
Reflecting on the race, both athletes acknowledged the intense competition and the need for a different level of endurance and intensity compared to shorter races. Carson expressed the importance of increasing volume and focusing on hard efforts to better match the intensity of the front group. Eli mentioned that he would prioritize endurance training and spend more time in the gym to address muscular fatigue.
Traveling long distances to South Africa posed its own challenges. The athletes had to adjust to the time difference and jet lag, but they managed to handle it well. They emphasized the importance of taking care of themselves, staying hydrated, and getting enough rest during the long flight. Eli commented on how much GI distress this race puts on athletes, so he was taking SwissRX Gut Defense, Gut Health, and a probiotic leading up to and during the race.
Recovery was a crucial aspect after completing the race. Carson admitted that he may have rushed his recovery and would have allowed more time for rest and transition. He also implemented a gut cleanse and used high-quality supplements to support his recovery, including SwissRX Gut Health and Gut Defense, as well as being on a three-day supplement fast. When he was ready to reintroduce food, he restarted on high quality supplements from the Feed. Eli experienced a hectic post-race period, as they had limited time to relax due to various logistical tasks. He took a week off the bike and recovered with Skratch Labs Recovery, noting that protein intake is important, but carbohydrates are really critical for recovery post-race.
Despite the challenges they faced, both Carson and Eli expressed a desire to participate in the Cape Epic again. Carson hopes to complete all eight Epic races to experience the unique aspects of each event. Eli wants to improve his results with better training and preparation, acknowledging the steep learning curve they encountered during their first attempt at the race. However, they also acknowledged that the race's demands and subsequent toll it takes on the body would require careful consideration when planning future race seasons.