By Michael Piasetzki
McBride native Cory Wallace finally ticked off one of his biggest personal bucket list challenges last week in Cape Town, South Africa.
The 37-year-old endurance mountain bike rider who lives in Jasper has openly admitted in the past that one of his biggest dreams was to compete and finish the Absa Cape Epic endurance mountain bike stage race. in Cape Town, South Africa.
It was a mission accomplished for Wallace, who likes to call himself a nomad. He finished 19th overall with his partner Craig Boyes of South Africa in 29 hours, 14 minutes and 55 seconds in the 2021 event, which started on October 17 and ended on Sunday.
The top-20 ranking was an impressive feat for the five-foot-seven, 160-pound Wallace, given it was his first attempt in the seven-day stage event, which covered a total of 611 kilometers and climbed 14,900 meters.
The race was marred by all kinds of variable weather conditions, including heavy rain on the sixth stage on Saturday, which left the riders, including Wallace, covered in mud from head to toe. It was won on the men’s side by pair Jordan Sarrou of France and Matthew Beers of South Africa with a time of 25 hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds.
If there was one word to describe Wallace’s performance during the weeklong race, it was consistency. The three-time 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion and two-time Canadian marathon bike title holder finished 23rd on day one, but steadily improved the rest of the way. He finished 19th, 18th and 17th respectively in each of the last three days of the race.
Boyes replaced Wallace’s original teammate Christian Janse Vanrenburg, who broke his collarbone in training days before the start of the race.
The Absa Cape Epic is considered by many endurance cycling enthusiasts to be one of the most grueling and physically demanding bike races in the world. It has often been compared in terms of difficulty to the Tour de France, generally regarded by endurance cycling connoisseurs as the most prestigious stage cycling event of the calendar year.