The Cape Epic

The prototype vs the Cape Epic

Former pro cyclist and Absolute Cycling team member Maarten Tjallingii participated in the Cape Epic. The most brutal mountain bike event in the world. In this article we share some of his experiences and the things we’ve learned about our Absolute Cycling One prototype. 

What we learned

  • Don't rush your prototype
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Connecting a power meter works perfectly
  • When it rains in Africa, it rains HARD

A special thanks

We sent along photographer Timo Bouman to get a few action shots of Maarten and the prototype. Also, Maarten wasn’t racing all by himself. He was accompanied by former pro cyclist Eric Dekker. 

Maartens story

It was epic from the moment I stepped out of the plane in Kaapstad on the 3rd of March. I’ve lived in Afrika for about 10 years, a few ways east of Kaapstad and right now I’m exactly where I want to be. I’m participating in the Cape Epic, the biggest and toughest mountainbike event in the world. I’ve worked my ass off for the bigger part of last year to get in the best physical shape as possible. I was extremely excited to get on my bike and get started. 

While I was training for the Cape Epic I was also working on the first prototype of the Absolute Cycling One. One of the privileges of being an Absolute Cycling team member is that I get to be one of the first few cyclists in the world that gets to test the smartest cycling computer in the world. I really put the engineers to work to finish the first prototype in time for the Cape Epic and they made it just in time for my race at the Tafelberg. 

Test number one

The first test went really well. I asked the engineers to make sure my power meter could connect to the prototype and while I was training my stats showed up on the screen perfectly. I tested the accuracy by using another cycling computer, which I kept in my pocket to collect data for comparison. After reviewing the data we concluded that the power meter was working perfectly together with the prototype. The first victory during the Cape Epic! During my second training I managed to break a personal record by riding a beautiful lap around Cape Aghulas, the southernmost tip of Afrika. The prototype managed to verify this perfectly.   

During my third training disaster strikes as I get hit by a tremendous amount of rain, and I’m not the only one. The prototype got drowned as well. Although I could handle the rain, the computer had a bit of trouble with it. Because we had to rush the prototype to get ready for the Cape Epic in time, we didn’t manage to do waterproofing tests. After letting it dry and a fresh recharge it won’t power up properly. Bummer, but a lesson learnt! 

Three days before the actual race our cameraman arrived and surprises me with a second prototype. I decided to resume my testing immediately, the excitement of pioneering a new device is just too much to ignore. I’ve been a part of the Absolute Cycling team since 2016 and I’ve seen it grow from an idea to a working prototype. Riding with it mounted firmly on my handlebar made me feel incredibly proud. 

Rubber explosion

Unfortunately, disaster strikes again during a downhill ride near the end of the Epic. I hit a hole in the road at full speed, blowing my tire to shreds. Even my rim is shot so I can’t fix it mid-ride. I continue driving on a flat tire and arrive at the finish line just 3 minutes after the first few cyclists. Not only my tire and rim are shot, the prototype unfortunately didn’t survive either. An even bigger bummer! I’ll have to continue the Epic without the prototype but we managed to get enough data and experience to work on the second version of the prototype. 

During my rides I’ve noticed how much I love to recognise my own limits and looking for ways to stretch them. It’s why i train as hard as possible to reach my full potential, just like I did when I was cycling as a professional. We’ll be doing the same thing to the Absolute Cycling One. The engineers will be using my data and feedback to make a second prototype and I’m already looking forward to testing it! 

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