Dirk Rossignol (49), will participate in this year’s Absa Cape for the 10th time, partnering with Ignance Spruyt. Rossignol boasts with 5 podium finishes during his ten-year stint on the event. He is also a finisher of the Australian Crocodile Trophy and has participated in a number of 24 hour races, in which he finished in second place in one of them.

The legendary Absa Cape Epic will see Rossingnol, together with approximately 1 200 riders, complete the demanding eight day mountain bike adventure of 698km with 15 650m of climbing from Citrusdal to Lourensford Wine Estate.

Rossignol, who started mountain biking in April of 2000, works in the construction and renovations industry. He considers his biggest achievement on the bike being a 14 day cycle through the Australian Outback in which he unexpectedly did very well overall. In terms of family life and commitments, Rossignol adds: “It’s very tricky and sometimes it requires a little bit of selfishness – unfortunately.”

His training consists of hard and long hours on the bike. “I build up cycling hours from October to December, on average 12 to 18 hours per week. In January, I do a lot of road cycling – approximately 5 hours at a time – and I run three times a week. Two weeks prior to the start of the Cape Epic, I do sessions of maximum 4 hours each. I don’t follow a special diet and never use power, recovery, anti cramp, super power products, but I consume kilos of biltong. It’s the best food for sport.”

Rossignol has participated in the Absa Cape Epic since its inception in 2003 and says that he could not picture life without the race. “It has definitely changed the winter season, with long training sessions. It’s hard to say what the ultimate highlight of all my Cape Epic adventures has been. The 2005 Edition of the event is a nice one as I appeared on the Master’s podium thrice.” Rossignol adds that his strengths lie in the technical strokes and downhills.

“My most memorable moment, I’d have to say was my first stage in 2004 when my body was in cramps after 75km and I was screaming and swearing that I would never ever do this again. Eighty two stages later and it’s still as hard as before, but at least now I know what to expect,” says Rossignol.

His toughest Absa Cape Epic was in 2008 when he cycled along fellow rider, Wouter Cleppe. “This proved difficult being the longest edition of the race, close to 1 000 km and Cleppe was so strong. Despite the tough times, I do still enjoy a good laugh, like the one time where a day prior to the prologue we were attacked by baboons on Table Mountain. It was obviously very serious at the time but it was hilarious afterwards.”

His best memory of the Absa Cape Epic was when he shared the podium with Olympic medalist Bart Brentjens in stage 5 of last year’s race. His riding partners over the last nine years have included Filip Claes, Franky Taelman, Wouter Cleppe, Ronny Roelandt, Ignace Spruyt and Walter Michel Wuynsberghe.

“My advice to other participants would be to stay focused on the adventure that is the Absa Cape Epic. Train a lot and if the motivation disappears, take a brief look at the route profiles – that helps me!” says Rossignol.

In this year’s legendary race, Rossignol does not feel the need to achieve much else as he has everything he needs, but a 10th place finish would be great. “The one word that sums up the event for me is ‘world champions’ and the most important ingredient is complete respect between both you and your cycling partner. Crossing the finish line is a huge relief and always a good reason to open a bottle of wine.”

When asked the question of why he returns to the Cape Epic each year, Rossignol responds: “It’s one week of doing my hobby in one of the most beautiful countries accompanied by 1200 bikers from all walks of life under a blue sky – it’s a phenomenal experience”.