Sithembiso Masango: The Wild One

Sithembiso Masango: The Wild one

Sithembiso and Oli: photo by Nick Muzik.
Team Landrover 6 –  Sithembiso Masango & Oliver Munnik

One of the most interesting local teams at this year’s Absa Cape Epic will be the team Land Rover duo of Sithembiso Masango and Oliver Munnik. Oli is a real character and mountain bike aficionado with 10 epics under the belt, but his team mate is a legend in his own right.

You can’t beat the introduction that coach and mentor Martin Dreyer expressed to Ride2Live when we asked him to describe 32 yr old Sithembiso Masango in a previous interview – “He is just different to any other cyclist I know. He has got this wild restlessness. He can really just ride his bike to the limit, the entire day. And why does he do this? Just because he can…just because he enjoys it. He is incredibly strong and his pure muscle power is unbelievable. He is unique. He is driven to push his body and redefine his boundaries like no other…I think he is South Africa’s most versatile mountain biker.”

Sithembiso is truly one remarkable mountain biker who has grown in leaps and bounds since 2013 when he was first discovered by Martin Dreyer and pulled into the Change A Life Academy in KZN.

You can read more on Sithembiso’s background in our 2019 interview feature: Sithembiso R2L full feature.

This year the talented and experienced Sithembiso will be tackling his 4th Epic alongside trail wizard Oli Munnik. The two plan to burn up the very technical 2020 route. Oli has been scouting the trails for the last few months and will know what’s in store for them.

The two of them form a fun & formidable team. Sithembiso is likely to finally reach his full Cape Epic potential as he was always the stronger rider in his past outings with other team mates. We know he has a diesel engine that can go all day and has proven himself in races like the Munga and 360ne. Teamwork is always critical but the two have already partnered at Wines2Whales 2019 where they managed 14th overall and a top 3 in their category.  A top 50 Epic finish is within reach and they must be eyeing to finish much higher up!
After a few 3am whatsapps sent by Sithembiso at the start of his training days deep in the Valley of 1000 hills, we finally got to chat and hear about his insane training load on 5th March with just over a week to the start line!

Sithembiso – you sound out of breath, what are you up to? Hi Sir, yes I’m out training, but don’t worry I can speak. I am now about 150km into my 250km ride for the day. For a tough race like the Epic, you need a lot of endurance, so I am busy putting some endurance into my body!

(laughs) -that is a proper long ride, I assume you are doing it alone as usual?  Yes, nobody wants to ride with me as I go too long for them, but it’s important to get the miles into your body. 

It’s only just over a week to the Epic, will there be any tapering?  Yes, I will start dropping my training with 5 days to go. Today it’s 250km, tomorrow an easier day with maybe 150km, and then Saturday and Sunday I will go to 200km’s again. The Epic is not for speed, it’s for endurance – that is what I’m working on. (no kidding Stem :}

So how are you feeling about the race and riding with Oli? I am looking forward to it so much. I am so proud to ride with Oli and for Land Rover. Oli is a very good guy to race with and he can help me a lot. We already showed that we can be a good team. I was overtrained last month [ed:no real surprises there :] – but now I’m starting to feel the “oomph” again. Last month I wasn’t feeling “oomph”, but now it is in me.

I have a lot of respect for the Epic, it’s a tough race – maybe the toughest. But I’m not scared, as I’ve done it a few times now. For the races like the Munga, there is no shade and no water – then you get scared because you don’t have water. On the Epic, it is tough, but at least there is very good nutrition and water.
We know you must be getting back to your ride before you cool that diesel engine – any final thoughts? Yes I just want to say thank you so much for Land Rover they are doing more for us than what I can ever expect. They treat me like a professional and it’s so nice, they are very good to us. I hope me and my partner Oli can do very well in the Epic and ride together from start to finish. Finally I am forever saying thanks to my coach and manager Martin Dreyer of the Change A Life academy who makes all of this possible for me.
All the best Stem – back to training!
Sithembiso is very well supported by his sponsors and the Change A Life academy, however despite his incredible CV and commitment he is still struggling to get a bike sponsor – seems a great sponsorship opportunity!
Cape Epic 2019 finish: Photo by Sam Clark/Cape Epic
Oli and Sithembiso: photo by Nick Muzik.
Oli and Sithembiso: photo by Nick Muzik.
2019 Cape Epic. Photo courtesy of Cape Epic
Sithembiso at the Munga: Picture by Martin Dreyer
Photo by Darren Goddard
Sithembiso racing the Munga - Picture courtesy of Kevin Benkenstein