When the 2007 FIM Women's Trial World Champion Iris Kramer retired from international competition back in 2009 the now thirty-year-old German needed to service her two-wheeled desire another way. Having been at the top of her discipline since 2000 Iris was keen to make sure she stayed fit and was in search of a new challenge, whilst still continuing to fulfill her role as an active member of the FIM Women's commission.
After coming across an advert last year for an eight day, seven hundred plus Kilometres - cross country mountain bike race close to Cape Town, South Africa named Cape Epic, Iris joked with her friend Georg Schellhaas that if she could get an entry she would ride it. When a few weeks later she received a wild card entry Iris kept to her word and recruited Georg as her teammate. They created the Univega Pro Cycling Team and spent the next few months making sure they were both fit enough for the ultra demanding conditions of South Africa.
Cape Epic consists of 1200 riders competing in teams of two members per team. The teams are then split into sub categories of Men's, Women's, Mixed and Masters. Iris and Georg entered the Mixed Team class and after well over fifty-three hours in the saddle they finished in a respectable thirty-ninth place in class – no mean feat considering this was their first attempt at this marathon race. As the torturous eight days drew on, their position steadily climbed, moving up fourteen places in total throughout the event.
Climbing a total of 14,550 metres from Tokai to Lourensford the athletes were pushed to their limits both physically and mentally whilst taking in the most breath-taking views South Africa has to offer. With the rules stating that both riders must finish each day together, not only do you have to take care of yourself, but also your teammate.
Iris is no stranger to tough conditions having previously competed in the International Six Days Enduro, the Scottish Six Days Trial and the FIM Women's Trial World Championships during her motorcycle career, but she places Cape Epic up there with the best of them.
"It is really one of the hardest things I ever have done in my life, alongside the ISDE. I was preparing the whole winter my fitness for this challenge, and I'm very happy that I could make it to the finish line. This was the goal!"
"After I stopped riding in the FIM Women's Trial World Championship at the end of 2009 I was looking for a new challenge in a different sport. I was practicing for the trial competition often on a road bike together with my team mate Georg Schellhaas (an experienced fifty year old Triathlon athlete)."
"In 2010 we had heard about the Cape Epic and we were joking that if I manage to get a entry in this race, then we would go for it. So I sent an email to the organiser and we managed to get a wild card entry so we started to practice."
"It was a completely different experience than the Six Days in Scotland or the ISDE 2006 in New Zealand. I learned a lot about my body, and we were more then happy to just get to the finish line on Sunday after over fifty three hours in the saddle over eight days," commented Iris.