The Cape Absa with Team Epic Everyday
Elizabeth "Bud" Reeder and Lentine Alexis Zahler
Interviewed by Anna Maria Diaz-Balart
Im really glads that the Cape Absa Epic helps you track racers, because Lentine and Bud are hard to track down. These ladies travel constantly, and just when you think you’ve got them, they are off on their next trip. Case in point, I remember trying to find Bud last year at Interbike, walking into the Oakley tent at Outdoor Demo and asking where I might find her. “Wheres Bud?” I asked. “We get that a lot” was the only response. So yeah, I might rarely get to see these ladies in real life, but at least during the Cape Absa, I can track them as they push themselves in one of the most challenging races on earth.
I honestly struggle with how to introduce these women. They are first and foremost athletes. Self proclaimed endurance junkies who’s athletic achievements are nothing short of awe inspiring. They are professional women who’s achievements within the cycling industry are worth note: Bud hailing from Oakley, Lentine from Scratch Labs. I am always impressed with the robustness of their lives. They are hard working road warriors, who find time to train and compete, to blog and bake and to devote themselves deeply to charitable causes. They are creative and cool, and no doubt if you lived anywhere near them, they’d probably talk you into some crazy endurance race and you'd have the time of your life.
The Cape Absa Epic offered a unique chance to Lentine and Bud to bundle all their passions into one single project. Its an extreme endurance event, its a once in a life time adventure. In partnering with World Bicycle Relief its a charitable cause that stands to deeply impact the lives of those they help. Now we normally give the social links at the end of articles, but following these two along is particularly important to this endeavor. For tracking during the race, Lentine will be ZAH420, and Bud is REE311. Their social handles are @epiceveryday @lentinealexis @ereederreadsanereader. But most importantly there is still time to donate to World Bicycle Relief, so if you clink on one link, let it be the following:
AM: Im curious as to how you guys met? You’re both on the go so much, what was it that brought you two together?
ER: Just like any great relationship these days…we started by Insta-stalking each other. I was drawn to Lentine because we have so much in common: bikes + cooking. We actually didn’t meet in person until March 2015. The best thing about the industry that we work in is that we get to see each other ALL THE TIME, so I that contributed to us quickly become close friends.
LA: It’s true. We totally found each other on the Instagram. I loved watching Bud get after it and have fun being a total bad ass. So when we finally did meet in March, at the Rapha Women’s Ambassador Summit, we hit it off immediately. I think we’d already started like five bakeries and changed the world by the time camp ended. As Bud said, working in the cycling/outdoor industry means we run into each other a lot. Typically travel like that can be lonely, but I think we really look forward to it knowing we can run around, ride and spread stoke together.
AM: Have you done joint ventures before team Epic Everyday?
ER: I have never done anything like Cape Epic/Team Epic Everyday before on a mountain bike. I have however, participated in a handful of Rapha Prestige’s, including when they used to be called Gentlemen’s Race, but nothing that consists of several days of grinding.
LA: Are we sure we haven’t done anything this adventurous before?! Both Bud and I have done some crazy athletic things in our pasts, but Cape Epic will be the hardest challenge either of us has ever faced on a mountain bike; either together or apart!
AM: What’s it like to train so far apart from each other? Are there specific programs you use to share training info?
ER: It has been interesting, but fun. We are able to bounce ideas back and forth off of each other. We are so lucky that we are going into training for this strong from road season. We actually both decided that a majority of our training this winter would be on CX bikes, so we could brave the mountainous/elements better in our hometowns thanks to Trek. The real speed bump comes when you consider the amount of travel that we both have to do for work – and the continuation of making sure we stay on the ball for training. We are so lucky because CycleOps + PowerTap will be helping us along the way with indoor training, which will come in really handy as soon as the snow starts to pummel us if El Niño ever hits…
LA: I have to admit that it would be WAY more fun to train together, but given how much we each travel for work there’s something pretty cool about knowing that wherever we are, we wake up with the same goal. It makes that much more of a statement about how dedicated we are to the race and to our cause. Like Bud says, we’re both coming off pretty big road seasons so we have a really strong endurance base which will really help us be prepared for the mileage of Cape Epic. With help from Trek and CycleOps, we’ll be able to better execute and share our winter training both indoors and out. And at the end of the day, the element that will seal our success at Cape Epic will be how well we work together as a team. I’m gonna go ahead and say we both felt confident in signing up for this big challenge together because we ride well together, we work well together, and we trust each other to push, pull and joke through the hard shit. Leaping through the hoops and making it work are all great training for this crazy thing.
AM: Was the Absa Cape Epic a race that was always on your radar? How did you come to chose this stage race?
ER: To be honest, when I was a senior in college I sat down and wrote this lengthy ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to make sure I did – with my background being in cross-country racing Cape Epic made it on that list. However, the decision of Lentine and I deciding to do this race occurred during the Aspen state of US Pro Challenge. We were staring a hotel, and we were indulging in wine and girl gossip, when I asked if she would be interested. Basically, a week later we were signed up and we kicked it is to full training gear as ‘working-class-pros’.
LA: Ha! Thinking about this now it’s almost comical (and so freaking awesome) the way that the project came to be. While it might take some teams months to figure out their dynamics, it took Bud and I about 5 minutes and one bottle of wine to make the decision to tackle this challenge together. It was sort of a “Eff yes, why not?!” sort of decision that I have a hard time ever regretting.
AM: Have either of you done similar races?
ER: I haven’t. The longest race I have ever done was an RGR, that was a 120 miles on gravel.
LA: I used to race as a elite endurance athlete and dabbled in ultrarunning. I ran the Transrockies Run a couple of years back; its 120 miles and 20k feet of elevation gain in 6 days on foot. It’s pretty grueling, and long enough that you actually feel your brain and body sink into disrepair. I nearly quit on day 3 of that race and came back to podium; I think that the experience of having to “come back from the dead” is one that will serve us well in Africa. At least I hope it will!
AM: Most of us experience the bicycle as a vehicle for freedom and empowerment. But globally that can mean vastly different things. Can you tell us a little more about what cycling means to you, and the philanthropic goals of Team Epic Every Day?
ER: I feel like I am constantly thinking ‘what can I do to help someone else?’ ‘How can I make a positive impact in the world, during my life time?’ I guess by giving the gift of a bicycle that is how I am going to start making a difference. I often think that we take cycling fore granted, here we are on our custom build bikes, or with our beautiful carbon wheels…and we don’t really think about it, we see these material objects as something we need to increase the freedom and empowerment we get from the bike. When, really…people like those we will be visiting and gifting bikes to in South Africa depend on wheels for their livelihood. A bike can guarantee them access to an education, to health care to clean water and food. The power that something as simple as a bicycle can bring to an individual is inspiring and enlightening to me.
LA: If I could only count the number of times I’ve felt that my bike has saved my life. Really though, bicycles have helped me “cycle” through so many transitions, so many emotions, so many decisions in my short life as a cyclist. Effectively, my bike has connected me to the resources, inspiration, and empowerment that have made me who I am and I’m really thankful for that. It’s true that across the planet we don’t always have the same opportunities, but bicycles, their two-wheeled simplicity at the core of the machine, is exactly the same the world over. Whether its emotional connectivity, or the pursuit of an education, the access to resources, or to communities and ideas…the bicycle has the propensity to make our worlds smaller, and expand our minds. It’s a really powerful tool. A tool that, especially in this moment, when this challenge is inviting us to do something that physically feels tremendous, we must share with others. We’re planning to donate 50 bicycles to women’s projects in South Africa as part of our own Cape Epic experience….while crossing the finish line will surely feel spectacular, I just can’t wait to share the power of bicycles with these women.
AM: Specifically you’ve partnered with World Bicycle Relief. Can you tell us a little about how they work?
ER: Lentine has been the queen of this relationship, and I am so thankful that she has taken the lead. WBR/Qhubeka is making our donations possible by setting up various visits to small projects that are all around the greater Cape Town area.
LA: World Bicycle Relief is an amazing organization that effectively empowers individuals, and communities, with the power of bicycles; they imagine a world where distance is no barrier to education, healthcare or opportunity, and their charitable donations make this dream a reality all over the world. Anyone can donate to WBR at any time; just $160 will purchase a bicycle in many developing countries. WBR designs and manufactures bicycles meant to tackle rural terrain and heavy loads, the bikes are then built locally, and delivered through work-to-own or study-to-own programs. Qhubeka is the African branch of their efforts, in in our case, they’ll be helping to connect the bikes that we donate through Epic Everyday to programs that work directly with women in South Africa; programs like the Treepreneurs (where women grow trees and trade them for bicycle ownership.)
AM: Cycling and charitable fundraising seem to go hand in hand. But usually on a larger scale. Do you hope your efforts as a team of two inspire more people to do the same?
ER: Gosh, I hope so! I hope that more than anything we inspire other people to see that they can be the root of change. We are fortunate that our race and philanthropic efforts when hand-in-hand in the same country, however, the next country that I want to explore and bring more bikes to is the US. As Americans I really don’t think that we understand how much an individual in the projects, etc, would benefit from a bike…think of that single mother that cannot afford a bus pass? We should be helping them too! At the end of the day, I just want to make this world a more beautiful, better place.
LA: Absolutely! I hope that what we achieve through Epic Everyday has many facets; yes, donating actual bikes to women’s projects will be an amazing way to give back. But I hope we inspire women in our own communities to think about the bicycle and what a gift it is to be able to ride. I hope we encourage them to get out on their bikes, push their own limits, and to inspire them to be more than just “cyclists.” The bike empowers us, and it’s really our duty to give back so that such empowerment can be a cycle.
AM: What are your biggest concerns for the Cape Epic race?
ER: honestly? The black mambas. My co-workers have been taunting me about them since October. As far as the ride goes? I am worried that something might happen that would cause us not to finish, but with an amazing teammate like Lentine by my side, and our families, friends and supporters, I know we will get through this, it may not be pretty but we are tough and devoted to becoming ‘Finishers’.
LA: I am not a fan of snakes. At all. And that’s all I want to say about that. But as far as fears or concerns, I don’t have any…yet. That might sound like naivety, but seriously I know that Bud and I are strong, mentally and physically, I trust there isn’t anything we can’t tackle out there. I know that just by trying to do this crazy thing we’re succeeding. There are lots of variables, and there are lots of places and circumstances where things might not go optimally….but worrying about those things won’t help. Keeping calm and collected out there will be all we can do to resolve any problem. Might as well start at home.
AM: Will Team Epic Everyday always be just the two of you, or will you be looking to get more people involved?
ER: For the time being it is just Lentine and I. However, after we Cape Epic we are going to sit down and look at other mountain bike stage races on the calendar, and see if any of our other buddies are interested in something like this. It would be great to increase our fundraising for bikes, and placement of them.
LA: As Bud says, the sky is the limit. I think we both hope that this idea, of using our efforts as a way of spreading awareness and stoke for women’s cycling, is something we would both love to be part of.
AM: You want to carry this model beyond the Cape Epic Race, Do you have your eyes on any specific places or races?
ER: I would love to. I guess I would kind of consider myself an endurance addict; it has helped me heal in so many different ways. I already have aspirations to go to BC, Mongolia, Brazil, etc.
LA: I’ve always wanted to ride my bike across Mongolia. And, I’d like to do the Breck Epic in my Colorado backyard. I think both locally, and internationally, there’s a lot of potential.
AM: Where can we follow along?
ER: Yes you can! We have an Instagram: @EpicEveryday and you will also be able to use the tracker system on the Cape Epic site to see where we are on the course. There is no GPS allowed, so that might be the best way to get an idea of the course ;)
Where can we donate? ER: Of course, and we would be so thankful if people would. We are trying to raise $10K USD so that we can bring over roughly 65 bikes. Each bike is $160 USD.