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Jayson and Roger

Looking for something that would suit an individual with a young family, Jayson went out and bought himself a mountain bike – and has never looked back. “After I bought my bike and started on a few training rides, I was hooked … especially in the cross-country format of mountain biking. I really enjoy the endurance training for long distances,” he explains. “This will be my fourth year of cycling, so I don’t have all that much experience behind me, but what I lack there I make up for with plenty of will! I’m still learning, but I love it, especially when I’m out training and riding with mates.”

To date, Jayson has competed in about 15 races, but this year he is upping the bar considerably. He and a friend from high school, Roger Taylor, have decided to enter the ultimate mountain bike stage race in the world, the Cape Epic. “To compete in the Cape Epic, two people have to partner up, and when I decided to enter, Roger was the first guy I called. We go way back,” Jayson says, “since our school days. Riding the Epic was on Roger’s bucket list, so I was hoping he would jump at the opportunity, which he did. We’ve done quite a few races together over the last year or so, and we train together regularly.

Jayson and Roger

To be honest, I don’t think we would be here if he hadn’t joined me as my partner. We have been training for the Epic for most of 2023, and with over two months to go, we are starting to see the benefits of early preparation and consistency in training.”

Apart from being the most televised mountain bike race in the world, the Epic is also the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (a French term used to label a climb in stage bicycle races as ‘beyond categorisation’). Six hundred and eighty teams from all over the world compete over eight days, negotiating a gruelling 700km of untamed terrain and up to a total 16 000m of uphill climbing in the Western Cape. Every year a different route is followed. “It’s a tough race to enter and a tough race to compete in,” says Jayson. “2024 will be the 20th edition of the Epic, which is one of the reasons why we wanted to do it this year.  We knew this would be a once-in-a-lifetime ride and a definitive bucket list moment for any mountain biker.”

Roger Taylor, Brenda Rebro and Jayson Stanley.

The duo decided that they will not be the only ones to benefit from this year’s Epic. Once registered and set for the race, Jayson got to thinking and decided that it seemed like the ideal opportunity to benefit those in need and put the publicity generated around the Epic to good use. He approached, a local charity that works with local children and helps provide for local communities, and they have been on board with support ever since.

It’s a lovely local stage race, right here close to home

While an undertaking like this isn’t easy, Jayson is quick to add that they are lucky to have a great support team backing them. “It’s tough going, and with a race like this you give up your weekends – and a lot more besides – to train. We have a good crew. My wife Angela and my kids Gabriella, Travis and Ross are behind me all the way.”

What’s next for the fighting-fit mountain biker? After the Epic, Jayson says that he will be riding the Sabie Experience, a three-day stage race, his third in a row. “It’s a lovely local stage race, right here close to home,” he smiles. “And then I think a lekker break is needed before the next big ride … Whatever or wherever that may be.”

Details: Jayson at [email protected]