Then Alex broke his pinky finger during the lead up to this year’s race. With an injury like that, high-speed drops and bone-jarring descents would be impossible to manage, and there was not enough time before the start for Alex to heal. It was a blow to both Alex and Lachlan.
“Alex and I were devastated when we heard he’d be unable to race,” Lachlan says. “We’ve been on this journey so long.” Lachlan still wanted to race. But first, he had to find another partner.
Cape Epic is raced by teams of two. This is for the riders’ own safety. It ensures that a racer who is injured or breaks his bike will never be left to fend for himself in the remote South African bush. Instead, riders have to help their teammates, fix each other’s equipment, and provide medical aid, if necessary, to arrive safely at each day’s finish, although assistance from riders on other teams is permitted. On the course, teammates must stay within two minutes of each other. The sum of their finishing times counts for the classification.
Who could Lachlan ask to join him? He hit on the idea of inviting Kenneth Karaya. Kenneth, 25, is one of Kenya’s best mountain bikers. He races with the AMANI Project, an initiative that works to provide African cyclists with opportunities to race and to build stronger communities on the continent by encouraging people to cycle.
“I’m familiar with their program and know that they’ve got some great riders looking for racing opportunities,” Lachlan says. “I figured it was a perfect match and reached out, hoping it would work out.”
Kenneth immediately accepted Lachlan’s offer. He often wins his local mountain bike and road races, which are becoming ever more competitive, as hundreds of young riders take to their starts, but he has had few chances to race outside of Kenya. Cape Epic will be the biggest event that he has done to date.
— Johannes Mansson to www.efprocycling.com