From Cape to Alps

TORQ-fuelled Sally Bigham has been racing for the past few months of course, it’s just that the TORQ IT dept have been rather remiss in getting the necessary information over to her so that she can update these pages directly. By referring to the TORQ IT dept, I am of course referring to myself…

Perhaps Sally’s most notable performance over the last couple of months was her defense of her Cape Epic title. This is of course the largest Mountain Bike race in the world, it offers significant prize money and suffice to say, you have to be World Class to win it. So, Sally went and won it and here’s what she had to say. She also gives some valuable insight into her fuelling strategy. Sally is someone well worth listening to with regards to nutrition, because she is always text book:

“I’m still flying high after our victory at the Cape Epic in South Africa – a race that is renowned as the ‘Tour de France’ of mountain biking. Together with my Swiss partner Esther Suss (World Marathon Champion 2010) we won 7 out of 8 stages and after 781km with more than 16,000 metres of climbing we crossed the finish line in Lourensford (the Champs Elysees) as the overall winners in the ladies category. Our race time of 38:34 would have put us in 29th position in the men’s GC – the best finish by a ladies team in the history of the Cape Epic, so we’re pretty happy with that.

The Cape Epic is a grueling test of endurance, speed, physical and mental strength and with correct nutrition underpinning all of these aspects there is no room for error. I’ve raced the Cape Epic two times before and I know exactly what works for me, so this year I carefully planned my nutritional strategy. One of the special aspects about this race is that it’s not possible to be handed bottles out on the course instead riders must be self-sufficient. Everyday I started with 1.25 litres of TORQ energy mixed at 6%. I carried TORQ single shots with me each day, which I added to water at feed zones. I also carried 5 TORQ gels without caffeine to use throughout the stage as well as 1 TORQ gel with caffeine, which I used within the last hour of the race to give me an extra physical and mental boost. Post race I immediately drank a TORQ recovery drink and then one more before going to sleep each night.

This routine worked perfectly; being fully fueled and hydrated each day aided post race recovery and meant that I was ready for more then next day. Some riders complained that they couldn’t tolerate their energy products in the latter stages of the race; TORQ is so light and easy on my stomach that this was never an issue for me. Thanks TORQ for your nutritional support and advice!”

Sally has put a full report about her Cape Epic journey onto

Since the Cape Epic, Sally has also won the Riva Del Garda, a huge 1-day race in Italy.

Most recently though (last week in fact), Sally won the Alpen Tour, a premium 4-stage race in Austria. There’s a race report on her blog (link below), but she did have time to tell us how much she’s enjoying the new TORQ Vanilla energy:

“I’m absolutely loving the Vanilla energy drink. I’ve just finished the Alpen Tour in Schladming, Austria where I won all four stages and took the overall victory. It was a stunning mountain race and I loved it. TORQ nutrition was pivotal in my race success: Vanilla energy drink, Guarana gels and Banana & Mango recovery drink fuelled me throughout.”

UPDATE (14/6/12): Sally has just forwarded through the following race report from the Alpen Tour:

“In previous years I’ve raced the Trans Germany, but this year we decided to start the Alpen Tour in Schladming, Austria. On the one hand I wanted to return to the Trans Germany, because I’ve never taken the victory there, but on the other I was tempted by the mountainous trails of the Alpen Tour. The mountains won and we loaded the van and set off on our drive to Austria.

We had a couple of days to settle in to our hillside apartment in a small village just outside of Schladming. What a nice feeling to be back in the mountains looking up at snow capped peaks and forest covered hills.

One of the good things about the Alpen Tour is that each of the four stages start from Schladming; staying in the same place rather than relocating each day is less of an adventure, but it’s far more relaxing and less logistically complicated! Each stage took the riders up to one of four different peaks surrounding Schladming:

Stage 1: Hochwurzen (69KM/2900m)
Stage 2: Planai (16KM/1100m). Hill climb time trial
Stage 3: Dachstein (73KM/2800m)
Stage 4: Hauser Kaibling (56KM/2000m)

The weather forecast wasn’t looking great, so I was mentally preparing for some wet, cold racing. However, we were really lucky and despite rain in the night and mornings, the rain abated before the start and we generally had warm, sunny race conditions. In fact, on the first day the temperature reached more than 25 degrees and I was able to top up my fading tan lines!

The Alpen Tour really is a nice stage race incorporating a variety of different natural and manmade trails, some of which are pretty technical, with very little asphalt. Even the uphill time trail included a rooty singletrail section that was pretty tricky in the wet. Everyday we enjoyed the steep berms of the Flowline downhill trail back to the stadium. 

The race went really well for me. I felt strong and I was able to set a good pace on the climbs each day. I took the lead early on during Stage 1 and I held on to the leader jersey over the remaining three days. I was looking forward to Stage 2 – an uphill time trial – taking confidence from my performance in the time trial that I won in Lanzarote earlier this year; however I was aware that I’d have some strong competition in the form of Vera Andreeva (Russian National XCO champion). I set off last, meaning that I was able to chase down the ladies ahead of me (chasing is much nicer than being chased). I took care to make sure that I had plenty of fuel for such an intense effort and during the hour long climb I used TORQ vanilla energy drink and TORQ guarana gels, which worked perfectly and I felt strong from start to finish. I won with a lead of 1 minute and 17 seconds. The next days went really well, no mechanicals and good legs. The third stage was particularly spectacular taking us high up into the Dachstein mountains. I always find it amazing to find myself running or riding through snow at the summits and I always make sure that I take some time to look at the views – this provides me with the motivation to dig even deeper.
Winning all four stages meant that it was a perfect race for me. Alban Lakata finished second overall and my friend and training partner Simon Willats ( finished 4th overall master in his first Alpine race. Many thanks to our excellent team support: Peter Felber (mechanic), Werner Faust (Physio) and Dave Padfield.

Now we have some time to explore and enjoy the trails in the mountains around Schladming.”

To find out more about Sally, take a look at the following articles:

Or, read her blog:

Perhaps Sally will be updating these pages herself next time if I pull my finger out and give her the access she needs?