The 8-day Absa Cape Epic is one of the world's foremost mountain bike events. NCC helps the organisers manage and mitigate the race's environmental impact.
The Absa Cape Epic, first held in 2004, is the largest full-service mountain bike stage race in the world. Held over 8 days and approximately 800km of a route that changes every year, the race traverses some of the most spectactular – and sensitive – environments of the Western Cape.
The race organisers set up a tented camp and catering facility for around 1500 riders and their support crews every night, and race nutrition, water, and isotonic carbohydrate drinks are available at feed zones along the route. The race has the potential for many negative environmental impacts including damage to sensitive vegetation, water contamination, litter and oil spills.
NCC was first appointed to help the race organisers manage the logistics of water points, including how to get trucks where they were needed with minimum impact, and clean up afterwards. We recommended that a dedicated manager be appointed for each water point and that site identification and pre-planning should focus on spots that offered easy access, enough space for racers and spectators alike and were not overly sensitive. We also recommended an end to the use of polystyrene cups.
NCC has since been appointed to do environmental management for the entire event. We have addressed issues including:
- Assessing and managing fire risks.
- Safe disposal of waste water from showers and bike washes.
- Planning the location of toilet facilities close to start chutes and away from rivers and sensitive areas.
- Preventing (and cleaning if necessary) fuel and oil spills from generators and vehicles.
- Controlling vehicle movements.
- Educating riders on the use of environmentally friendly cleaning agents.
- Educating riders and managing water points to minimise littering and to collect and remove whatever is thrown away (there is now a half-hour time penalty imposed for littering).
- Planning routes to avoid erosion.
- Baboon monitoring and management.
In 2011 we collected, washed and re-used over three hundred plastic water bottles.