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EMBRACING THE DETOUR - Chris Beech AKA the Lost Lion

Craig Beech had completed every Absa Cape Epic for 17 years, part of the exclusive pack of Last Lions, until a health scare forced him to hit the brakes. He rolls over the memories as he anticipates a return to his ‘monster friend’.



A chance encounter with a magazine advertisement introduced me to a new mountain bike race due to launch in 2004. My work as a conservationist, steeped in the world of digital mapping, provided the perfect segue. Through a twist of fate, I connected with race founder Kevin Vermaak, offering to craft maps for both event management and riders. 3D mapping was in its nascent stages, and I took a little risk, proposing flythrough animations.

Imagine my desktop groaning under the strain, rendering videos through the night that emerged as pixelated landscapes with a solitary yellow line snaking across them – a

blurry hint of mountains, valleys, and the promise of epic terrain.


But this wasn’t just a technical pursuit. Freshly settled in Stellenbosch, I was devouring the trails on my new bike, and the allure of riding the Absa Cape Epic was irresistible. I wrangled my way in, maps in hand, and embarked on that magical maiden voyage. Knysna to Stellenbosch – the very notion fuelled my spirit. Each stage was a unique experience, leaving indelible memories etched onto both bike and mind.



The world’s toughest mountain bike stage race… This singular challenge became my

annual obsession, my training mantra. For months, I’d push myself, preparing for that test of will and endurance. The Epic transcends mere difficulty – it’s an experience that pushes you to the limit, both physically and mentally, but rewards you with memories that last a lifetime.

“It's about conquering oneself, adapting to the unexpected, and embracing the adventure, wherever it may lead"

Read Craig Beech's full story in the ABSA Cape Epic edition of Mountain Bike Magazine, available nationally at Woolworths and Exclusive Books, or for those outside of South Africa you can download the digimag here

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