This journey/pilgrimage we took by moving out to McGregor, long before Covid and “semigration”, has been just amazing. Like my bike, I now lead a simple life with no outside interferences. We both work remotely and are blessed with a beautiful country home which we designed and built, that we share with our horses and pony, plus Ridgebacks, a Weimaraner and more recently a rescue GSP puppy from Jhb. This has all been driven and underpinned by wanting to continue single speed biking. I am now approaching 58 years young this year. Proper & pure mountain biking as I call it has always been a honest experience for me. You cannot just rock up, but must be physically and mentally in a good place, and with your trusty steed in perfect running order. There are no short cuts here – the ride will just spit you out, it is as simple as that. Mountain biking at tough events is truly a humbling sport. I got “skopped” out twice at previous Cape Epic’s – 2018’s hooman engine wobble, aka heart attack and then 2022 when I suspect I had Covid going in and could just not get through the week. Those two DNF’s planted a seed of self-doubt that I have never truly managed to overcome. It weighs heavily on my mind with March around the corner. The mindset required for me to be successful is almost a David Goggins & Courtney Deawalter type of approach – I know I am going to go to that dark place most days, but in my case, I need to lean into it and embrace it, almost welcome it, knowing that this will pass, and I will make it to the other side. I will be a better person for experiencing this adversity. Does that even make sense?

2 hours before 2018 Epic heart attack


Living in a very small village now and having a supportive wife, with such a diverse crowd of residents, where we all know everyone and care and look out for each other, is just fantastic. Coupled with healthy living and being active on my bike and trail running is pure heaven. I have become a “heads up bike rider” as I refer to it, always looking up and taking in the surrounding beauty and not bothering to even take my cell with me anymore. Lock in that awesome scenery on your ride – South Africa is such a magic place.

What is it about the Cape Epic that makes it such a unique and special bike experience? It truly is a test of body, mental strength, and bike over eight days, ridden mostly on jeep and single track. It has insane daily elevation, requires supreme bike skills at times and then there is the clock. You are always aware of the daily cut-off time and even when completing a stage, coming in at 3pm there is still a ton of admin that must be completed by 6:30pm dinner. And then this whole thing plays out again from 4:30/5am the following morning. The Epic struck a chord with me…..I wanted to try do this thing for as long as possible. It is such an amazing event….very difficult to put in words what makes it so special.

Now as we enter the last few days leading up to March’s Cape Epic I am reminded how blessed and fortunate I am to have discovered mountain biking and all the joys it has brought me…..I would change nothing in my live. Having lost most of my CT cycling tribe to age, deteriorating health and emigration it has now mostly become a solo ride thing for me at events, but I just love doing this. It almost feels that biking has taken me to this point of reflection. And yes, it is finding that balance, and it will be different for each person, but I am so chuffed that I am not driven by that overwhelming desire to chase and hoard money & possessions, at the expense of so many other things. Health is the new wealth is it not. At this year’s Epic I ride & suffer for Dave Mercer who is in the middle of a cancer battle. Take care my fellow mountain bikers and do have fun on your bike. And if you not a biker and feel inspired or motivated by these words, I encourage you to embrace movement in some form or other

PS This year I have paired up with a wonderful character from Panama, Joaquin A Gil del Real, a SS legend at 60 years young, and we will both be riding fully rigid single speed bikes, as we attempt to tame this beast on two very old school bikes. My wife will have a daily blog on FB and normally it is a hilarious read – do follow our very slow progress.

Big thanks to all my Epic partners over the years (they have sacrificed so much to ride with me), especially these four dudes: Edmond, Grant, Dan the man, Paul…love you guys

Thanks for taking the time to read this




Max’s bike - components that won’t let me down, sacrificed weight for reliability

Italian steel, handmade & bespoke 29’er mountain bike frame …..all steel frame with reinforced thicker top tube with gussets top end-joints for additional strength, including a matching handmade bespoke stem and front fork. This bike frame build was all done by Daver Mercer, the Boss! Medium size frame. Painted by BMC & Jared the wizard.

Height is 1.72, weight 69kg, BP 115/70 & resting one year Garmin HR average is 51.

  • Stans Flow 29-wheel rims with Hope Pro 4 front hub and Hope Pro4 SS specific rear hub. Will be on Vittoria Mescal Cape Cobra’s 2.35 in front and their Barzo Cape Cobra 2.35 in the rear. Tyre pressure - 0.85 bar front 1.2 bar rear
  • Chain rings for Epic will be 32/22 ratio, both individually CNC hand machined & tooled from Swiss steel by an engineer friend of mine in Tokai. Wide diameter steel to house the KMC K1 SL chunky SS speed chain.
  • Hope Cranks with Crankbrothers Candy 2’s, and Hope threaded bottom bracket
  • 1 X 500 ml Aluminium Klean Kanteen bottle on Arundel stainless steel holder. Will use 1.5 litre USWE Outlander hydration pack for Epic
  • HANDLEBAR Ritchey, aluminium sanded down to silver finish.
  • SADDLE Brooks Swift – same one for years now…this one was made back in 1980 which I took off a very old road bike some years back!
  • SEAT POST Aluminium Thomson Layback….also sanded down to silver
  • GRIPS large oversize SQlab ergonomic… I don’t use gloves.
  • Hope rotors 180mm in front and rear
  • BRAKES Hope Tech 3 V4 with silver braided hose…overkill I know! But I need it for the gnarly and testing descents.