Directing a documentary about six everyday women 
and one extraordinary feat. 

Only 9% of the athletes who race South Africa’s ABSA Cape Epic are female.

Benjamin Roy

EPISODE ONE

It all started in July 2017. Liv chose six winners of an Instagram contest and together those women would become the Trail Squad. The team would set out to compete in the most epic mountain bike stage race of them all, the 2018 ABSA Cape Epic, an eight-day stage race in South Africa with a total distance of 658km and 13,530 meters of climbing.

 

The Squad would be joined by professional XC racers Serena Bishop Gordon and Kaysee Armstrong, who had mentored the team from the beginning. But when each rider set foot in Cape Town four days ahead of the race, no one had met face-to-face.

 

In Episode One of the Trail Squad’s journey, we get to know the athletes and the race they are about to embark on. As the race kicks off with the Prologue—a time trial stage to the top of Cape Town’s Table Mountain—the Squad is nervous but eager to get underway.

 

EPISODE TWO

With the 20km Prologue around Cape Town’s Table Mountain under their belts, the Squad is transported to Robertson for the first real test of Cape Epic. They awake on the morning of Stage 1 in their tents to the sound of bag pipes before the sun has even threatened to rise above the jagged mountains surrounding the Arabella Wine Estate.

The next two days would be a brutal march through the rocky, barren landscape on singletrack, jeep roads, and doubletrack. Already, an illness is going around race village, and Lisa is struck down. Unable to take in calories, how will her body survive the challenge ahead?
 

 

EPISODE THREE

Stage 3 is the longest day of the Absa Cape Epic, logging in at 122km with 1800 meters of climbing, and it would be the first transfer day of the race. Riders would leave the Arabella Wine Estate in Robertson where they had spent the past three nights, and arrive at the end of a long day at HTS Drostdy School in Worcester. 

 

Stage 4 features yet another transfer, and is touted by many as the most challenging of the entire Cape Epic. 13km and 1800 meters of singletrack climbing meant this day would be technical, much to the Liv Pro’s excitement. Some would hit their stride during this fifth day 

on the bike, but others would not..

 

EPISODE FOUR

With the longest and the hardest days of the Epic behind them, it seemed the worst had gone by at the start of Stage 5. But they wouldn’t be fooled by the shorter distances; what Stages the next Three  lacked in kilometers, they more than made up for in brutal climbs. On top of that, the highest temperatures of the week were forecast, spiking while the amateurs were on course. 

 

EPISODE FIVE

7 days in and 586km down, the Trail Squad looks to bring the 2018 Cape Epic to a close, an epic journey it was indeed.

When asked to reflect on her 2018 Cape Epic experience Serena Bishop Gordon stated, "My heart is softer, my spirit less guarded, my drive solidified, my vulnerabilities revealed. I am more real, more raw and more myself."

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

In July 2017, Liv Cycling selected six videos as winners of a global campaign. Together, the women who created those videos would become the Trail Squad, setting out to complete in the most EPIC mountain bike stage race of them all, the 2018 Absa Cape Epic, an eight-day stage race in South Africa with a total distance of 658km and 13,530m of climbing.

 

With a brand new Liv Pique mountain bike and Liv gear, support and mentorship from professional XC racers Serena Bishop Gordon and Kaysee Armstrong, and five new training buddies, each of the Trail Squad women conquered the biggest adventure of their lives. 

This 5 part series tells their stories of success, failure and things they learned along the 

way.

 

This film was created in association with Liv—a cycling brand devoted to women—over the course of the 2018 calendar year. This documentary is available here in five gripping episodes—the same format as part Freehub.com—a quarterly mountain bike magazine.

 

But the story began a year earlier, when Liv had a wild idea. They would pose a simple question to athletes around the globe: What does cycling mean to you? As a reward, six would be invited to join the Liv Trail Squad, and complete an epic adventure—the ABSA Cape Epic—regarded as one of the hardest mountain bike races in the world.

 

And so began an eight-month preparation leading up to the race, complete with new bikes, gear, coaching and more. Notably, before this contest, most of the Trail Squad were not competitive athletes. To face the challenge, they would need to dig deep, rely on their teammates, fuel correctly, overcome illness, and manage heat exposure across massive stretches of the Western Cape.

 

Statistically, only 9% of the athletes who race the ABSA Cape Epic are women. Of that number, less than half compete as female-only teams. This documentary chronicles their journey, and is packed wall-to-wall with coverage of the highs, lows and micro-stories unfolding within every stage.

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