Gordon Gilbert never tires of finding new ways to push it to the limit. After recurring injury forced his early retirement from Professional Soccer, Gilbert began cycling as a form of cross training but had soon found a new outlet for his competitive spirit. After just a few races, he says, “the rest was history - I am now training hard with a goal to compete amongst the best”. With this newfound love and commitment to competitive cycling, it was natural that when his brother asked Gilbert to compete as his partner in the hardest mountain bike stage race in the world, he quickly agreed.
Just three months later, Gilbert found himself lining up at the Absa Cape Epic Stage Race, one of the most brutal tests of human endurance one can imagine. Each year, this 7 day race demands riders cover over 650 kilometers with roughly 75,000 feet of climbing through South Africa. Riders face over 30 hours of racing in extreme weather and must carry everything to fix a mechanical and fuel their bodies. Gilbert is the first to admit that he, “had no idea what [they] were getting into,” but in this case, the “ignorance was bliss.” Just three months later, he and his brother had summoned the mental and physical strength to complete all seven stages of the race and join the elite list of finishers.
For most, completing the Cape Epic once is enough, but for Gilbert, that first attempt only fueled a desire to return. Gilbert says his, “mission thereafter was to prepare proper and have a good go racing the epic. Which I did and will do again and again”. Gilbert set out determined to improve his finish in the brutal stage race. He has now completed the Cape Epic three times and performed stronger with each attempt. The first time he raced the Cape Epic in 2014, Gilbert and his partner finished 176th with a time of 43 hours and 19 minutes. This year, Gilbert and his partner Alan Gordon completed the race in 31 hours and 52 minutes to finish an impressive 26th place. Gilbert attributes much of this cycling success to his affinity for hard work and, “the ability to suffer and suffer more than opponents. If you’re well prepared you will suffer just as much but go faster.”
At the Cape Epic, high temperatures and complete exposure leave athletes at a high risk of dehydration. In such extreme conditions and with consecutive days of racing, hydration becomes a crucial factor. With the right preparation and fueling, however, there is no limit to what you may achieve. “You learn so much about yourself and what the body can endure,” says Gilbert of his experience battling the extreme conditions of the Epic. As Gilbert strives to compete with the best, DripDrop is proud to have him as an athlete ambassador and an example of what can be achieved with hard work and determination.