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From 7s to 8 Days of Untamed

2019-09-05

Recently retired South African Sevens captain, Kyle Brown, will be taking on a new adventure when he rides the 2020 Absa Cape Epic in the colours of, the race’s official vehicle and route partners, Land Rover.

In 69 tournaments for the Blitzboks, the South African Rugby Sevens team, Kyle Brown played 347 matches and scored 89 tries. Having made his debut over a decade ago, in Dubai, Brown captained the team for the final time in Singapore last year, as the Blitzboks wrapped up the World Rugby Sevens Series for the third time during his career. Now; in need of a new challenge, Brown, like many rugby players before him, has turned to mountain biking. His first major challenge is the 2020 Absa Cape Epic, where he will be riding for Land Rover. 

The race’s Official Vehicle and Route Partner, Land Rover, have throughout their association with the Absa Cape Epic brought a number of former rugby players into mountain biking. From, Springbok Rugby World Cup winning captain, John Smit to Kiwi tearaway flyhalf, Carlos Spencer, retired rugby players have annually taken up the challenge laid down by Land Rover. The challenge to prove that they are tough enough to tackle the Untamed, to master the Land Rover Technical Terrain and complete the Race The Race That Measures All.

Brown is the most recent to trade his togs for cleats and take up mountain biking. Having only bought his first adult mountain bike on the 11th of July, Brown has dived in at the deep end. “I've really enjoyed the progression; it's actually kept me quite motivated, seeing the improvements” the 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist confided. It sounds as if the Land Rover Technical Terrain at least will hold no fears for Brown: I'm really enjoying the downhill single track; I grew up doing some motocross so I think I have a decent feel for the flow and enjoy a couple of good jumps. My biggest weakness is the endurance though. I need to learn how to slow the pace down and go for longer. Coming from such a high intensity sport I'm prone to flying out the blocks – which I’m sure will not be a good tactic in the Absa Cape Epic!”

Since officially retiring from international sevens rugby in June Brown has been busier than ever. “To be honest the last couple months have been the most whirlwind of the last couple years. Finishing a 12-year career in sport and transitioning into the next stage has been incredibly daunting but very exciting” he said. “We – Cecil Afrika, Philip Snyman and myself – have started a coffee company, Eighteen Coffee. It’s a fun way to keep us close after our rugby careers come to an end. The majority of my time has been spent trying to discover my next path though.”

Mountain biking provides Brown with time to think and contemplate the next chapter in his life. It also acts as an activity where he can satiate his competitive urges. “I think for most guys it's a way to save their knees and stay active too” he reflected on the popularity of mountain biking among rugby players. “I enjoy the fact that I have a chance to take part in something competitive and gruelling though. I also like the fact that I’ve come into the sport with very few expectations, so I can just go out to enjoy a brand-new challenge.”

Brown has found challenges aplenty on his Stellenbosch doorstep. He has already conquered the 2019 Absa Cape Epic’s final Land Rover Technical Terrain segment in Jonkershoek, though he did not realise it at the time. “I've really enjoyed exploring all that Stellenbosch and the surrounds have to offer. Jonkershoek is top of the list, with its endless singletracks and breath-taking views” he enthused. His riding has taken him outside of Jonkershoek too and much exploration remains on his to-do-list. “I've enjoyed Eden, G-Spot, Muratie and Mont Marie too, but I’m keen to try out loads more!” Brown grinned.

He will have to do just that if he is to adequately prepare for the 2020 Absa Cape Epic. First on the list of places to ride should be Wellington’s Wild Boar Trails, due to their proximity to his Stellenbosch home. Thereafter a trip to Table Mountain National Park is in order for Brown. It turns out he is as yet unfamiliar with the famed Plum Pudding Land Rover Technical Terrain. When asked if he would rather face-off, in a one-on-one situation with double IRB Sevens World Player of the year Perry Baker or take on Plum Pudding he laughed: “I think I might go for the devil that I don't know. I know nothing about the Plum Pudding so I'm in. But I will probably regret that…”

 

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