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Karoo in its Natural Habitat

Posted by Audrey Hahn on

Karoo in its Natural Habitat

Ripping through the ABSA Cape Epic race routes in South Africa

“I have the best job in the world,” Lance Stephenson says. “I coach mountain biking for a living and I get to guide my clients through some of the most pristine routes in South Africa — and in particular, the ones used during the ABSA Cape Epic!”

Lance has never had the opportunity to race the ABSA Cape Epic himself, but he has gotten to know the route well.

Lance is riding this year, as he always does, to help other cyclists train for races like the ABSA Cape Epic race. He has gained special permission to use the official route for the race, and the route director even sent him the GPX file. And now, there is no fuss, even when exploring new terrain he hasn’t ridden before, with the Karoo as his guide. “Nothing beats this baby on navigation. I just upload the file and it’s there! Big screen super easy to follow and it never gives trouble!”

Through a connection with the route director of the race, Lance was able to gain special access to the route.

With 2017 Ladies Winner Jennie Stenerhag and Cannondale Factory racers Henrique Avancini and Manuel Fumic in tow, he needs the best navigation to keep them on track in these South African trails. The men’s coach even tags along, making sure the riders are keeping their technique sharp in preparation for the race.
Lance uses his Karoo to navigate uncharted territory, but he also uses it on his normal routes at home.

“My riding is all on the mountain bike. I spend almost every ride doing something technical and rough to keep my abilities sharp — as a coach, I need to be able to ride the same terrain my athletes do but in an automatic fashion so that I can observe them and any mistakes in technique they make.”

Whether working with his clients or not, Lance maintains an intense training routine. Ride durations vary from 2 hour intense spins to long 5–7 hour slogs.

Lance says that Karoo has helped him keep his focus on the athletes he trains. “Thanks to the ease of navigating with my Karoo, I have done my bit in helping these guys prepare for the race in the best way possible. The route is demanding this year. That gets said every year, but this time I think it’s particularly true.”

Ultimately, Lance still considers his hometown routes to be his favorite. “None of it is man-made… It helps you become a really good instinctive rider.”

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