Watch out Epic – here comes two determined Americans
01 January 1970
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Gerald de Kock: Welcome to another edition of our Old Mutual Mountain bike podcast, thanks for downloading it. We’re going to make it interesting for you today because we’ve got some extraordinary guests who are joining us, they’ve come from the United States to ride the ABSA Cape Epic. Their story is, well, I suppose everyone who rides the Epic has a story and we’re going to find out about the story that Letine and Bud.
Lentine Alexis and Bud, Elizabeth ‘Bud’ Reeder who are riding the ABSA Cape Epic for Team Epic Every Day. I’m going to start with Lentine, you are an athlete, at a high level in triathlons, but what brought you to ride the ABSA Cape Epic?
Lentine Alexis: What brought me to ride the Cape Epic, very different. Bud Reeder here asked me if I would do it with her. We have a very strong background together in some endurance road and gravel riding in the United States.
We’re both ambassadors for the Rapha brand and we’ve done some really incredible rides together. When she asked me to do it with her, it sounded like the type of adventure that I couldn’t pass up on. So I said, absolutely and my background is in endurance triathlon. So I was a professional Ironman racer for nine years, but this sort of challenges the type of thing that I like gunning for, so it was a pretty easy sell.
GDK: Bud, you have a deeper background in mountain biking?
Good genes do help
Bud Reeder: I definitely do. My mother actually raced mountain bikes as I was growing up in Vermont and had just kind of funnelled down the gene pool. Actually my first real race was when I was 13 years old in Crestview, Colorado and it was to essentially prove to the boys that I could keep up with them.
GDK: And you’re still doing that.
BR: I guess.
GDK: You’re still involved with the industry as a whole in terms of working for Oakley and that type of thing, is it something, doing the Cape Epic that was on your Bucket List or was it something that just popped up in the last year or so?
BR: Actually, Cape Epic has been on my Bucket List since I graduated from my first college degree in 2010. I believe around then was when the first one was and I saw this amazing adventure that was happening. I said to myself: Yes, I have to do this, it’s amazing, it’s an enduro, an endurance junkie thing. At that time, that’s where I was in my life, so I guess it’s been a handful of years, seven to eight years now.
Training for the Cape Epic abroad
GDK: And here you are on the doorstep. Lentine, in terms of preparing for an event like this, you’re going a little bit into the unknown, but how have you gone about that?
LA: Sure, so my training has been really interesting because I live in Boulder, Colorado and we’re just leaving the dead of winter. So a lot of my training, Trek was very generous and they provided us with some Cyclocross bikes to train on.
So I was basically out on my Cyclocross bike every single day, through the winter, deep snow and I actually got frostbite on four of my toes training for the Epic, which is the opposite of the experience I think you’d like to have. But I’m very well versed in multi-day ventures. I rode from Geneva to Nice last year on road and cross bikes. I’ve done a lot of different endurance events, so building off that strong base.
Then just really pushing myself through the winter to ride as hard as I could and there was a lot of mental training. Just thinking about the types of depths that you reach on an eight day stage race like this where you’re going to go deep. You’re going to go dark and it’s going to hurt and you just keep going. That was a lot of our strategy when we couldn’t replicate the conditions that we’ll have here at the Epic.
GDK: You are working fulltime aren’t you?
LA: Yeah, I am probably working beyond fulltime, I’m the Executive Pastry Chef and in-house Chef for a small nutrition company in the United States called Scratch Labs. We’re working to change the way that athletes think about the way that they fuel themselves. Instead of using packaged products, we’re all about using real food. I spend a lot of my time developing recipes and developing products and I spend a lot of time on the road cooking for other athletes. So it’s, for sure, a 40 plus hour week job. I ride whenever I can and it’s quite wild.
A more natural way of fuelling
GDK: Let’s delve into that a little bit, in terms of what we should be eating and what would benefit us most of the bike in terms of what you prepare.
LA: Sure, so our strategy is, we’re going to use as much real food as possible. We’re going to actually make a lot of our own race nutrition before the Epic even starts and store it in a cooler that we’re going to be carrying with us. Kind of like real food energy bars made with dried fruits and nuts and butter and that sort of thing.
We’ll be making them along the way as well, I actually brought a food processor with me that we’ll use in camp because we have electricity in camp every night. We’ll be sleeping in the tented camp and so we have a couple of recipes that we know will last us through the desert and in the intense heat that’s possible out there.
We don’t intend to use any packaged products if we can help it, with the exception of a couple of things. We have a very good friend, he’s the founder of a company called Untapped Maple. They make a packaged maple syrup, it’s straight maple syrup, it’s very simple. I was a designer of a product called Scratch Labs Cookie Mix and so we’ll be baking cookies in the night before the Epic to store. We’ll be using those instead of energy bars out there. We’re pretty confident it’s going to work really well.
GDK: On the bike, Bid, let’s talk about your skills and strengths and weaknesses, on the bike, we’ve all got them, where are yours?
Playing to each others strengthens
BR: I think that mine are probably in descending. I will never forget this, I had turned 16 and behind my mother’s back I decided to go, I had just had my braces off, I should preface this. I went to go buy a downhill bike with the money I had saved up after working at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory through high school.
It’s just a run of the mill chocolate place in Colorado and I came home with my first downhill bike. My mother was not pleased with it at all! I grew up chasing the boys essentially and that’s why I like to say, now I can give them a run for their money.
Today we’re even on a ride with the Trek South Africa guys and I give them a little shout flying as it goes, get out of the way if you can’t go fast enough. I used to be actually, with my cross country background, a huge climber, but now since I’ve traded it in for an endurance bike, I guess I should say enduro bike, yeah, descending, let’s do it.
GDK: And yours?
LA: My strength is probably climbing actually and my weakness is probably descending. Just keeping up with Bud and her adorable blonde braid is enough for me, because my background is in triathlon. That’s a very different discipline, but climbing is my strong point.
I live at altitude now and a lot of the days that I spend on the bike are climbing into the mountains, behind my house. So opening it up and really letting it loose and really gunning for it here at the Epic will be my challenge and eliminating some of those mental blocks of just what the course holds.
BR: I think one of the coolest parts of all of this is what Trek has been able to facilitate us with because not only have they given us the bikes to race on right now, cross country top hills, they’ve also given us each a Cyclocross bike. Then for my training specifically in Park City, Utah, where El Nino has hit us pretty hard, they’ve also given me a fat bike, Farley 5. So I’m able to still go out and not be constrained to the trainer and that really helps going into something like this.
LA: Variety of disciplines.
Playing their part for the Qhubeka Foundation
GDK: Talk about helping. You’ve also got another string to your bow, that’s what you’re doing in terms of, awareness and fundraising for the Qhubeka Foundation, tell us about that.
LA: We spend a lot of time training for the Cape Epic. But a lot of our efforts, you know, days were like, let’s wake up really early, send a million emails to talk to different companies and different people that were able to help us to pull together this amazing project.
So we spent a lot of time training for the Epic, but we also spent a lot of time organising this fantastic project. What we’ve been able to do is raise funds, ample enough to provide some 40 bicycles to the local South African community here.
Which feels pretty unprecedented for two ordinary girls that aren’t connected necessarily to the South African community. It’s really important to us that we’re able to convey this really cool message which is that bicycles are really powerful. Both Bud and I decided to do the Epic in a time when we were going through something really personal.
Pouring our energies into training for the Epic was the only thing we could imagine that would help us to process what was going on in our personal lives. We recognised that sort of privilege to use the bicycle as a recreational tool to meditate is a privilege, but bicycles are empowering for anybody.
GR: I think one of the best examples of that is actually today, we were on a ride with the Trail Angel’s from Stellenbosch based out of BMT Bike Shop. Lentine and I are so used to riding with each, our style and how we go about things aren’t even thought about and I’m notorious for playing American pop.
I put it on my phone and we just go, you can kind of zone out that way. The girls, one of them was like, I’m so impressed that you ride with music and it just kind of like, you don’t even notice. It’s so cool to experience that on a different level.
Great to see the support of the project
LA: We’re very lucky to be able to have the opportunities that we’ve had here, especially for the Cape Epic, being industry members and connected to the cycling community as we are. We’ve had a lot of support and a lot of, we’ve generated a lot of enthusiasm for the project that we’re doing here.
it’s manifested itself in some really significant funds that are going to make a big difference for the lives of some really amazing people here in the Stellenbosch community. We put in a lot of time and effort to just get ready to come here, but now that we’re here, it’s amazing to see all that come to fruition. Meet the people that have helped us and to see the people that receive these bicycles.
Most of our energy is sapped because we’re trying to figure out a way to convey all these amazing messages to people at home; who have been so generous with their time and energy and money. It’s in a way, as if racing Cape Epic wasn’t big enough, this great big eight-day stage race, where there’s a lot of unknowns, there is a lot of emotion behind it.
GR: One of the best things that you could be doing is doing this, like with one of your best friends on a bike, it’s pretty special.
GDK: You two are pretty special people, congratulations, whether you finish or not, however it goes –
LA: We’re finishing!
GDK: But you’ve done an incredible job already. Good luck, enjoy the journey and I know you’ll do it with a smile.
LA: Thank you, that is the number one thing we intend to do.
GDK: Two extraordinary people riding the Cape Epic and doing things beyond just riding the Cape Epic and making a difference to community, a long way from their home. So thank you very much and this has been another edition of our Old Mutual mountain bike podcast, we’ll have more for you as the months and the years unfold.