The team that brings you the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race is spreading its wings … into the Swiss Alps.

From January 14 to 18 next year it will stage Snow Epic, Europe’s first winter festival of biking, in the idyllic Alps town of Engelberg. The riding will be done on fatbikes, the new super fat-wheeled trend taking the world of cycling by storm. The event will also host a winter biking expo in the town at the same time.

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Absa Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak explained the thinking behind Snow Epic: “For many years we’ve been looking for an event to complement the Absa Cape Epic. Our goal when we started the Absa Cape Epic was to be foremost mountain bike stage race in the world, and many would say we’ve achieved that.”

Sights like this seem so out of place on a bike, and thats what makes it so cool!
Sights like this seem so out of place on a bike, and thats what makes it so cool!

“We did not want to stage another mountain bike event in South Africa or elsewhere in the world that would not have its own unique character. We also want to do something ‘cool’ … something that promised a whole new experience.”

“I think we have achieved that with Snow Epic,” said Vermaak.

A different type of shuttle...
A different type of shuttle…

Snow Epic riders will compete in five events over three days, each with its own distinct character, taking in trails and slopes normally reserved for skiing. The events will include a tough hill climb, a timed descent down a ski slope, a cross-country style loop in the Engelberg valley and a floodlit dual-slalom race. Daily riding times will vary from about two to three hours for leading riders to up to five hours for back markers.

Fatbiking originated in the United States, where the super-sized tyres were first used to negotiate the snowfields of Alaska and the sandy deserts of New Mexico. Now it is the fastest-growing segment of the United States’s cycling market and quickly gaining popularity around the world.

Fatbike tires provide additional float and grip on the soft snow.
Fatbike tires provide additional float and grip on the soft snow.
But thats not always enough!
But thats not always enough!

“Snow Epic will be the first dedicated winter fatbiking event in Europe and we believe that it could be the first of many more to come. When we started the Absa Cape Epic in South Africa there was not another stage race in the country to speak of, and just look at the popularity of the sport today,” said Vermaak.

The growth of the Absa Cape Epic has been paralleled by an explosion in mountain biking in South Africa and there are now more than 50 stage races across the country.

“At Eurobike (cycling expo) almost every mountain bike manufacturer had a fatbike on display in their booth’s prime spot,” Vermaak pointed out.

The idea for Snow Epic arose when Meerendal Wine Estate owner and entrepreneur Herman Coertze – a long-standing friend of the Absa Cape Epic – took to fatbikes to train in Engelberg, where he lives for part of the year. The Absa Cape Epic has partnered with Coertze and Evert van Muyden, who lives and owns a real estate agency in Engelberg, to organise Snow Epic.

Engelberg is also the European base for Team Meerendal, the multi-national professional cycling team sponsored by the Durbanville wine farm. Team Meerendal is the sponsor of four-times Absa Cape Epic winner Christoph Sauser’s charity near Stellenbosch.

Snow Epic will be about more than riding bikes – it will also host a fatbike and winter-biking expo in the idyllic town. Leading fatbike and component manufacturers will be showcasing their new products there – including, for example, the newfatbike wheels will be launched at the Snow Epic.

You've never had so much fun on smooth terrain until you've ridden at high speed on a ski slope!
You’ve never had so much fun on smooth terrain until you’ve ridden at high speed on a ski slope!

Registration for the expo is being handled by Datasport, the Absa Cape Epic’s partner in Switzerland, which has provided world-class timing services at the Absa Cape Epic since 2007.

Go to for more details, and visit Snow Epic on Facebook

Words & Photos: Snow Epic PR

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