King of the mountain bike – Karl Platt
King Karl, as he is affectionately known, knows how to make life a pleasure, radiating absolute calm. Composure, know-how, and his unique sense of humor are qualities that many appreciate about him. As a SIGMA brand ambassador, he love having him around. His successful and exciting career speaks for itself. Even after the end of his professional career, Platt continues to ride at the top of his game. We talked to him about what it was like to end his professional career and how wonderful his current life is.
Karl Platt ended his professional career in mountain bike cycling over a year ago. The Cape Epic 2020 in South Africa, together with Alban Lakata, was supposed to be his final race. Following that race, Platt fell into a hole, which is very surprising for the cheerful Platt. It took him a long time to fight his way out of that slump. In the meantime, he continued to race as a professional, but was not able to continue his previous successes. The farewell to racing at that level was emotional as that era came to an end. However, Platt found it impossible to let go completely so quickly and a possible comeback as a professional was in the cards. But continuing to push his body to the limit was not an option either. This inner struggle clearly shows the passion Karl Platt feels for mountain biking: “Once a racer, always a racer!”
The solution: take the pressure off and compete in the Masters category. A smooth transition that was still fraught with plenty of skepticism at the beginning. “I didn’t really know, is it cool, is it not cool,” says the five-time Cape Epic winner. But Karl Platt received positive feedback quickly and built a drive for himself that couldn’t be more authentic: Karl Platt wants to take cycling enthusiasts into his world and tell stories. This also means that he personally puts racing in the background while he enjoys life and cycling.
A new world, without pressure
How ingenious is it then when it also becomes so clear: Everything done right! “I don’t miss anything, I don’t mourn anything, I enjoy it even more than before. I’m involved in everything, just like in professional times, but I have better access to racers because I have time now,” says the Rhinelander. So Platt now prefers other parts of the cycling world. He likes to meet people, drivers, teams, pass on some tips and wisdom. Let’s face it, there is hardly a person with whom it is more pleasant to chat with than Karl Platt. After a conversation with him, your cheeks will hurt from grinning so much. His enthusiasm for life and cycling spills overto everyone around him! This new world view pays off every time: “I enjoy it because I have no pressure.” Platt is more relaxed, doesn’t get up as early, doesn’t have an evening meeting, and it still works. “You’re on top of things,” says the 44-year-old. Which, by the way, doesn’t mean that a World Cup or the Cape Epic don’t tickle out the ambition in him: “I want to perform and get the maximum out of it, but with fun!”
17th start at the Cape Epic 2022
Karl Platt never rode according to training plans, he listens to his body feeling in training, pays attention to his rhythm. Now even more than before, that personal guide is always in mind. When he knows a tough race is coming up, the training sessions becomes more intense. “But if I get up in the morning and don’t feel like it, then I don’t race either. Or if I set off and wanted to do an intense session, and I realize on the first mountain it’s not going, then I go to the café for breakfast and the same the other way around,” an attitude that definitely has its raison d’être, as demonstrated not least by the Cape Epic victory in the 2022 Masters category.
Before the Cape Epic, Platt rode a good amount of preparation, such as the Rwanda Epic. “I was in a movie the whole time, I didn’t have to focus on training at all. Then five days before I went to the Cape Epic, I was in the flow. I didn’t have time to worry, the atmosphere was there, it was the 17th start, I wasn’t as nervous as before.” Together with his former rival, Christoph Sauser, Platt contested the multi-day race in South Africa and it seems that two good friends have found each other here. “I figured it would be fun, but I didn’t think it would be this much fun.” Platt says that Sauser and he are very similar in riding style and attitude. Everything goes by feel, everything is relaxed. “First slam in, everything that goes, especially on the mountain – until it hurts and only then shift gears,” a tactic that has repeatedly led both to the winners’ podium.
“I never made big plans for the future. Learning-by-doing and staying in the flow,” reports Platt. The mountain biker does what he feels like at the moment, and lets himself be surprised. He may accidentally discover a new passion that he wants to pursue and then invest his time in it for a while. He doesn’t plan for the next ten years. Platt is a free spirit: “I need to get out in nature, move around, meet people. That’s kind of my thing.” For all the fun, enjoyment, and passion he embodies, Karl Platt also knows that he can’t pursue this lifestyle forever. For now, though, “I still really enjoy cycling! If I haven’t ridden for two days, my hooves rattle” – once a racer, always a racer.