By FOCUS REPORTERAnka Martin from the USA, an established Absa Cape Epic favourite whocompleted the event three times before, will be returning this year toparticipate in the 2011 Magical and Untamed African MTB Race. She will betaking part together with her good friend and fellow downhill racer TracyMoseley from the UK (the Current DH World Champion).On why she returns to the Absa Cape Epic year after year, Martin responds:"I keep asking myself that same question, but this year however we areriding the Cape Epic for Wold Bicycle Relief in order to raise money so wecan donate bikes to ten schools in Zambia. I missed last year's event as Iparticipated three years in a row prior to that and needed a break and I wasstill paying off the costs incurred from the previous events."Martin believes that together with Moseley they make a great team: "We bothlove to ride our bikes and enjoy going downhill pretty fast. We're greatfriends and we can laugh and make fun of ourselves. We're not takingourselves too seriously, and we're doing it for a great cause. As long as wehave fun bombing down the hills and passing a few guys, we'll be happy."Due to the fact that the two ladies live on different continents, they arenot able to train together. "We get to ride and race downhill and compete inendurance races throughout the year, but Tracy lives in the UK and I live inthe US, so we didn't get any riding time together for the Absa Cape Epic.We'll probably get to go on a few fun rides when we arrive in Cape Town nextmonth," says Martin.Martin's training programme has been rather different than in previousyears. She explains: "It started off with a very intensive yoga teacherstraining course for six weeks, which gave me a great base to build from.Then I went to New Zealand for about six weeks where I rode the mostamazing, technical, crazy trails ever - no specific training, just ridinghard every day. For the last few weeks I've just been getting in some longerroad rides on my mountain bike and doing tons of yoga. Tracy and I are alsocompeting in the Cape Verde Islands. After that, it's straight to Cape Townfor some more long rides in the heat under African skies."In terms of Martin's diet, she says it consists mainly of loads of veggiesand potatoes (she is a vegetarian). "Potatoes are my choice of food whenriding! For the past couple of weeks I've been cutting back on alcohol anddark chocolate - my two vices. I just try to eat healthy, organic, freshfoods, and loads of avocado and beetroot. Nothing too crazy - one must justmake sure you eat enough when you're doing so much training - as long asit's fresh, nutritious food."According to Martin it takes determination, stubbornness, a great sense ofadventure and an even greater sense of humour to successfully complete theAbsa Cape Epic. "It also helps if you like to be on your bike for extendedperiods at a time. It's very motivating to be racing for a reason; in ourcase, to support the World Bicycle Relief. To other participants I would saythat they should bring their sense of humour and loads of chamois cream.Young athletes should get outside, appreciate the beauty of nature and justhave fun on their bikes. Never grow up! If you're having fun, everythingelse will follow."Martin is also fortunate to have her photographer husband at the Absa CapeEpic, but they only manage to see each other for about 20 minutes every day."He is very supportive, but also extremely busy with work during the event.It's kind of frustrating, because I know he's out there, but he can't helpme with anything when I'm completely exhausted. He has to focus on his joband get all the images out. It's still really comforting to know that he cancome whizzing by on a motorbike at any time with some supportive words.That's usually my highlight during those long days that can get prettychallenging at times."With such a passion for riding her bike, Martin dedicates most of her timeto it. "There's nothing better than exploring new trails. It's the ultimatefreedom. When I'm not on my bike, I teach Vinyasa yoga. Other than that Ilove to travel, cook, camp, sew, read, eat and to snowboard in winter."Dedicating as much as she can in order to raise awareness and funds for theWorld Bicycle Relief charity, her other plans for 2011 include racing theSouth African National DH championships, she wants a podium finish at theMega Avalanche and at the Mountain of Hell Enduro DH event in France, shewants to take her yoga practise to the next level and get her 500 hourteachers training certification. Martin further wants to race the Masters DHWorld Championships in Brazil, she is considering the BC Bike race in Canadaas well as the La Ruta stage race in Costa Rica. "Other than that, I justwant to be healthy, happy and ride endless sweet single track trails with myhusband Sven."From 27 March to 3 April, all eyes will be on the Western Cape as theworld's top riders vie for position in what is billed to be the mostcompetitive event in the race's history. Mountain biking enthusiasts notparticipating in the Absa Cape Epic are invited to enter the Cape TimesVigne-a-Vigne mountain bike race. The race promises participantsbreathtaking scenery and spectacular mountain biking terrain, and cyclistswill be given the opportunity to enter either the 50km or 27km challenges.Interested riders can register online at www.vigne-a-vigne.com.The Cape Times Lourensford Vineyard Run is a unique trail running raceoffering a choice of an 8 or 18km route. The Vineyard Run (also on 3 April2011) will provide participants with beautiful vistas and numerous climbsthrough the idyllic and picturesque Lourensford Wine Estate. Interestedparties can enter online at www.vineyard.com.www.cape-epic.com for more details and to see where the riders are onlineduring the race.