For eight days and more than 400 miles, racers must keep their teammate in sight—follow his or her rhythm—through ups, downs, elation and misery. If separated by 2 minutes, it's a one-hour penalty. If three offenses, the two-person team is out of the running. It's an endless act of reassessment and recalibration while clawing for an edge over opponents in South Africa.
Photographer Gary Perkin has covered the Cape Epic since its inception in 2004. What started out as a wild idea in 2002 by South African Kevin Vermaak racing Costa Rica's 'La Ruta' turned into what is now the benchmark in elite-distance stage racing. Perkin had documented World Cup races since 1997, looking for ways to creatively cover action occurring in a time-controlled manner between race tape. In late 2003, he was beginning to question his ability to make it on the World Cup circuit, right as the digital and web transition began to firmly grasp photography. Then a Cape Epic e-mail randomly hit his inbox: Could he shoot the fledgling race?
Cape Epic has since turned into a global who's-who showdown of power, bolstered by 600 teams, but Perkin's image still resonates deeply to the event's essence: "Even though it's 1,200 people, it's still a race of a team of two," he explains.
Pictured above, the Langeberg Range forbodingly fades into unforgiving rays as awnings attempt umbrage for an aspiring orchard—meager means combatting South Africa's decreasing rainfall. Two faceless silhouettes engulfed in dust grind after an escaping pack, symbolic of Cape Epic's severity.
Here's to battles waged in pairs.