The Racing Block: Part 2

When the times are good, it’s hard to say no. Soon thereafter I headed off to Wellington, the home of Imbuko Wines and the host to the Gravel Travel Classic on the famed Welvenpas trails. A young Steph Senekal showed off his XCO prowess and held off an established name, Lourens Luus and myself to take the win on the day. It was a good hard burn coupled with great trails and was my last outing on South African soil before I headed off to Mauritius.

I had visited Maurtius before, but never to race and was thus unsure of what to expect. Who would be my competition, what would the weather be like and what riding conditions would we encounter. Well the Island threw a curve ball on the first stage as we encountered monsoon like rain, wind and mud. When it rains it pours? Yes. After missing a turn 10km into the stage, Matthieu Desserprit from Reunion and myself found ourselves on the back foot so to speak and we were a good 10 minutes behind the front of the race. The weather conditions made it tough, but I took solace in the fact that it would be the same for all, and then I punctured. Ultimately a long day out and it would be difficult to erase the 10 minute deficit on the line over the next 2 days and 3 stages.

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Gravel Travel Classic.

Image Credit: Living Light Photography

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Island racing is tough.

 

Matthieu took out a flat and fast second stage whilst I then won the night XCO race, in both circumstances time gaps were a matter of seconds to Mauritian champ and overall leader Yanick Lincoln who had won the first stage. The final stage and day proved tougher and Lincoln got away from Matthieu and I, up a rocky loose climb. Ultimately I would finish second on the day and second overall behind Lincoln with young junior Alex Mayer taking third. All in all a great experience and I can’t thank Beachcomber Tours enough for having me.

It was back home for two weeks and some R&R. With so much racing on the go, training does tend to take a bit of a back seat and comprises of mostly recovery rides to try and recoup some freshness and spring before the next effort.

The next effort would come in the form of the PWC Great Zuurberg Trek just outside PE. I had again partnered with young Dylan Rebello and after some initial drama early on, we managed to take out the first stage ahead of a charging Adriaan Louw and Andrew Hill.

The second stage would be one to forget as a cracked rim and collapsed wheel would ultimately see us loose a huge chunk of time, to a strong Louw and Hill who would take the stage and a commanding race lead.

The final stage offered some redemption as we managed a 3rd on the day with the Kargo Pro team of Jurgens Uys and Marco Joubert also getting involved in the action, taking a stage win with Louw and Hill winning the overall title.

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PWC Great Zuurberg Trek

Image credit: Capcha Photo

From PE it was straight up to the big smoke. I have in the past needed a few days to acclimatise to altitude. Normally 3 days works well for me, which is opposed to the conventional wisdom. The next round of the Asburton National Series would take place at Van Gaalens, a venue and area I was not totally unfamiliar with. As we rode, certain trails sparked memories, but really my body was in a one speed day and there were no sparks. It wasn’t a particularly fast one speed day and try as I might I couldn’t shake out of it.

I had taken it one race too far. It was time to head back to Cape Town for some time out. Reflecting on a busy few weeks, you can see from the above words and images that there were many good times had. So really, I can’t complain. Like I said earlier, when the going is good, it’s hard to say no. When the form is there, the natural inclination is to want to carry it on for as long as the body and mind allow.

Now after some time off, I feel like I am ready to go again. To get back into the swing of things a couple of unstructured rides, that are really just rides are always good. Rides just to enjoy being on the bike again without looking at power or heart rate readings. Of course the serious business will start again soon, but for now it’s just plain and simple bike riding time.

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Tough day out at Ashburton National Van Gaalens.

Image Credit: ZCMC

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The Racing Block: Part 1

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Taking the Liberty Cape Winelands Encounter title with Craig.

Image credit: Ewald Sadie

 

After a whirlwind two months of racing and travelling all over the country and even abroad, its time for some rest. Time to look back and see what was done right, and what can be done better next time around.

The rest is welcomed and I could feel towards the end of this racing block, I had perhaps gone one race too far at Van Gaalens. It is important to push the boundaries though, otherwise we would not know where they stand.

The rest is is followed by a period of planning and rebuilding. The focus for the latter part of the season will be towards the Cape Pioneer and Wines2Whales, both big races and it’s exciting that they again form a part of the race calender.

Before moving forward, as I said, it is important to reflect on what has been a successful racing stint. After a week long race like the Epic, I’ve found that from past experience I can either come off the race very well, into an almost second higher peak or be crawling, there is no middle ground. The later more the case after the Cape Pioneer last year and the first probably how I came off the Cape Pioneer in 2014. The most important factor is to first ensure some good recovery time and then in these cases a few short sharp tune up rides before the Wines2whales.

Following the Epic this year I had some good rest, indulged in some food and wine and then was mentally and physically ready to go again. The first outing would be a short and exceptionally intense effort at the 99er Classic, a 45km race in and around the Tygerberg network of trails. I was happy with a 3rd on the day behind the USN duo of Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill.

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Rounding out the podium at the 99er Classic.

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In action at the Liberty Cape Winelands Encounter.

Image Credits: Ewald Sadie

The following week Craig and I again teamed up to take on the Liberty Cape Winelands Encounter. Although there were a few minor issues on the first stage, they were just a minor dent into our efforts and we again combined well to win 3 of 3 stages and the overall race. The mojo was good and I was keen to carry it moving forward.

After a criterium at Killarny, I lined up for probably my longest one day race ever, the Transkaroo. A 240km marathon which would prove to be a sharp contrast to Killarney. Nonetheless the good mojo continued and the race would ultimately prove to be a battle of attrition. I made my move up the Ouberg pass and opened a gap of a few minutes as I crested the climb and the escarpment. A final top up at the last tech zone would be my sustenance until the finish line another 40km later. After riding from sunrise to sunset I had managed to bag the win. Good times indeed.

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Winter League skinny wheel action.

Image credit: Cycle Technix

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Lonely road up the Ouberg Pass.

Image credit: TCB Photogrpahy

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It’s steep and it hurts.

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Power to beat your best, you’re stronger than you think.

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Taking the road less travelled?

Image credits: Living Light Photography

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Done. Ecstatic. Broken. Relieved.

Image credit: TCB Photography

With just a few short days for recovery it was back on the road again, this time to the Gravel and Grape. I would form a new partnership with Dylan Rebello, as Craig was unable to get leave for the race. Our new relationship got off on the right foot and we managed to take the first stage, and then the second and finally the third and overall title. Winning had become a very good habit.

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Gravel and Grape.

Image credits: Chris Hitchcock

2016

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MTO Songo.Info Champions Race

Image: esphotography

My writing has been scarce of late and whist there have been efforts to get something onto the site, the intentions to post something is there, but it seems to fail to materialise. The age old ‘I don’t have enough time’ has repeated itself, more than once.

This year, has been a good one thus far, actually a great one! It would just not be possible without support of some really passionate sponsors, family and friends who have all come together in terms of each playing an important role in the team.

Imbuko Wines and Freewheel Cycology have been amazing and I can’t thank them enough for their fantastic support, as have been a number of the supporting sponsors, they all bring something special to the party and I am grateful for it. In and amongst this, we have built a family like atmosphere involving all of the supporting sponsors and close friends and family. Their excitement in following and being involved with the racing has made us feel quite rockstar like.

The first main goal of the season for us was the Cape Epic, us you may ask? Craig Boyes, part time fast bike rider, and full time sales manager at the Specialized Stellenbosch store, had joined me in our quest for the Epic.

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Garden Route 300

Image: Julie Ann Photography

Our build up included the Garden Route 300, an event well positioned in the calendar and in the physical and technical challenge required for Epic preparations. Craig was super strong and won 2 of 3 stages until unfortunately puncturing on the last stage to finish 3rd overall. I managed 3rd on the first stage and 2nd on the last, it was enough to finish 2nd overall behind youngster Dylan Rebello who had displayed some great climbing form.

The build up also included a trip to PE for the Herald, one of my favourite places to visit and then the first round of the national marathon series in Cape Town at Meerendal, perhaps that was a day to forget. Also thrown into the mix were a number of road races, well used in building speed and higher end power.

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Ashburton National Marathon: Meerendal

Image: Zoon Cronje

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Herald MTB Marathon

Image: The Herald

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Killarny 

Image: Cycle Technix

It was then time for the big one, the Epic itself. The stages had become shorter than pervious years, but included more vertical ascent per kilometre and more technical terrain than ever before. Shorter does not equal easier.

Craig and I had a good week, and although we were satisfied with 20th overall and 4th ABSA African Team, there was also an air of disappointment. We had started the week a bit further back in the field and had steadily worked out way up to a virtual 3rd place in the African Team competition, a big goal for us before the race.

What should have been a simple puncture fix, just a few kilometres before the finish of the 2nd last stage, turned into disaster with broken valves and what not. On the side of a jeep track, the finishing village in sight, we frantically tried to fix the problem as we watched other teams and our rivals come past. In hindsight, we could have perhaps ridden the rim to the line. In hindsight. Hindsight is a bitch.

Nonetheless, the support we enjoyed through the week was unbelievable and the experience will play a crucial role in going back.

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Stage 4 start, Wellington

Image: Ash Smit

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On the charge, stage 6.

Image: Theo Bruwer

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Stage 1, WP 1.

Image: Ash Smit


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The Finish @ Meerendal 8 days later.

Selfie Image: Ash Smit

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So close, yet so far.

Image: Johann Badenhorst

Cape Pioneer Trek

The Cape Pioneer Trek is an event which I associate with fond memories. My first outing, with the Pinner himself, Oliver Munnik resulted in us finishing in 3rd place overall with a couple of stage podiums after enduring a tough 7 days through the Klein Karoo. The Pinner and I were both back this year, me still racing a bike, the Pinner spinning tales on the Twitter web whilst covering the racing up front on a scrambler.

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The Pinner in action with Piet.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

This year the opportunity presented itself to once again ride in the Asrin colours. Asrin had supported me well in the past and this year was no different. I would team up with Erik Kleinhans from the RECM squad for the event.

In the weeks leading up to the event, Erik notched up some pretty impressive results and I had myself thinking, what had I got into here… I tried to nullify my doubts with the knowledge that my own preparation had also gone well. In the final build up I managed to win Seweekspoort Marathon which also doubled as the Western Cape Marathon Champs, followed by a top 10 the next day in the GOK Penny Pinchers road race in Oudtshoorn. Finally a 3rd at the STBB Challenge in Stellenbosch.

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Seweweekspoort Win.

Image credit: Oakpics

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Magical moment.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

With the preparation done, we arrived in Mossel Bay for our 7 day journey which would transcend the coast line, into forest and then ascend into the harsh Klein Karoo terrain.

After a quieter start to the race, Erik and I’s first opportunity to make an impact, came on the second stage, Montagu Mettle. With some 60km still on the cards after the climb of the famed Montagu Pass, we attacked and built a lead of up to 3 minutes at one point.

Lady luck was sadly not smiling on us, on one of the last rocky technical descents I cut my rear tyre badly with just 16km to go and a 1.5minute lead. So close, yet so very far.

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On the move on stage 2.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Disaster strikes!

Image credit: The Pinner

After k@kking off in the Kamanasie on stage 3, we headed off in the direction of the Swartberg Pass on stage 4. The southern side of the pass is one which most former Pioneer riders are familiar with and the main contenders arrived at the base together. Kleinhans applied the pressure until it was just the Italian Crisi brothers, the Scott yellow jersey wearers and ourselves left. A stage podium within grasp, this time closer, but still just out of reach. The steeper slopes near the summit took their toll, as a young Jeep team came charging past us with a km to go. They wrestled 3rd and the final step on the podium, for the stage out of our grips.

With two stages to go, the first the Queen stage and the last the drag race back to Oudtshoorn, time was ticking as opportunities to create an impact on the race became scarcer. Dryland put up R50k, to be split amongst the first three mens and woman teams, atop the ascent of the northern side of the Swartberg Pass.

After some thinking, we realised this played into our hands. We would not go for the $$$ on top of the climb but rather pace ourselves more evenly over the tough 108km Queen stage.

The leading teams regrouped some 40km in and shortly thereafter Kleinhans and I attacked and went clear from the Scott, Crisi Borthers and Dutch Dynamite trio of teams. There was still 55km to go and some serious climbing and terrain to still encounter.

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Blue steel?

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

Kleinhans’s experience paid off and we held the chasers at bay although they did come within 20 seconds at one point

Coming into Calitzdorp with more than a 2 minute lead, we could sit up somewhat and savour the moment. This year has been a testing one and to secure a stage win in a UCI race really felt as if it has paid dividend to the tougher times behind the scenes

The final stage was short and fast, we were 5th on the day, in reality we had already achieved our goal for the race and whilst it wasn’t a victory lap, it gave us time to reflect on fond memories again.

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Mission Completed.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

York Timbers Enduro

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Whilst the concept may seem somewhat unusual, it works and it works well. The 3rd edition of the York Timbers Enduro took part last weekend in Sabie.

Coming from Cape Town, the weather was a stark contrast, while winter still lurked in the corner of the Mother City, days of 35C greeted us in Sabie. I did prefer riding with my jersey fully unzipped, sweating in the African sun to having my rain jacket fully zipped and head pointed downwards to avoid the pouring rain.

The concept of the York Enduro is an interesting one. Twenty five corporate teams of four riders each, are partnered with a pro rider to ride together as a team. There are a number of different mountain biking events over 4 days with the flagship event being the enduro. Initially one may think that the difference in skill set and riding level between the two, may lead to contrasting expectations. But actually, not really. The pro’s help with tips and pointers and the occasional push and as a result a strong relationship is formed within each team.

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As a pro, the weekend was a good space to go to a race and relax and rewind. Take a step back from the usual rigours of racing and in doing so interact with people whom we may not usually be able to.

The corporate teams silently bid on a rider, after each pro is introduced to them at the gala dinner on the first evening. I joined the gents from Team ABSA – Warren, Sefiso, Francois and Tom. The meet and greet is only on the start line the following morning.

With somewhat of an accounting background and being surrounded by investment bankers and fund managers, I hoped I would be able to at least keep up with the conversation. Fortunately the guys were more interested in ASS MAGIC and I could just talk about my usual sh!t instead of making a fool of myself.

A mountain bike enduro is an event whereby a course is set out, but only the downhill sections are timed. York’s spin on the enduro format, included a hill climb time trial and a team time trial. The team time trial especially was a great stage as it allowed teams to formulate a strategy and work together to try and be fastest and in doing so building morale.

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Dual slalom eliminator.

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Hey let’s throw a curve ball and do a swimming race across the dam?

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Did I mention I don’t like swimming?

For good measure, there was also a half marathon event, a DH, a dual slalom eliminator and the weekend was finished off with a XCO pro exhibition race following the corporate XCO event. The idea was that the pro’s also race these events and in doing so create a show for the corporates to watch after we had completed the day’s enduro together.

In the evenings, York had gone out of their way to ensure we were provided with top class food and entertainment. We were treated to Jon Dellinger, Monark and Kurt Darren. I didn’t realise what a legend Kurt was in Afrikaans circles until I saw his fans go absolutely bos when he arrived on stage. His interaction with the crowd was very good and a certain Mr Kleinhans entertained us with a rendition of the chorus of Loslappie.

All in all the trip out to Sabie was a successful one and the weekend is one which I will look back fondly on. Thanks for having us York!

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Boom boom pow!

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Cheating on Betsy and the Cederberg 100 Miler

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Yes Betsy was temporarily replaced this past weekend.

A part of me did feel like I was cheating on her, another part enjoyed the comfortable, air conditioned Landrover Discovery. Either way it meant the same thing, I was back on the road and travelling to another race.

It was the first edition of the Cederberg 100 Miler and ever since the event was launched a few months ago, it had piqued my interest. The race would start at the Clanwilliam Dam and use a maze of gravel roads to take the riders through and over the Cederberg mountains to finish 160km, or 100 Miles later at Kaleo Manor. Tankwa Trek riders will be familiar with Kaleo Manor and having some knowledge of the roads leading into the guest farm did help through the final kilometres of the race.

The Cederberg mountains, as I have been told before, were beautiful. I have vowed to come back, I think a trip on the bike would do them justice to enjoy them further.

A lead bunch of 7 riders was formed on the rollers leaving Clanwilliam. The course would encompass mostly gravel roads and they were dusty. Last week I vowed to never again complain about the dust after some major sense of humour failures as a drowned rat in the Eastern Cape.

The majority of the 3000 metres of ascent would accumulate from kilometre 60 to kilometre 100, as the route profile would suggest, this was where the selection would be made. After 100 kilometres into the 100 mile race, the lead group was whittled down to myself, Charles McFall and Craig Boyes.

Cederberg 100miler profile

When the race starts at 100m ABSL and ends at over 1000m ABSL, there is going to be some climbing…

With some flatter roads, the 3 of us combined well until the rolling climbs in the final 20 kilometres, first took Craig as their prisoner. He would soldier on to finish in 3rd position on the day, not too shabby for the working class hero!

I had some idea of what was still to come in the final stage of the race and used a climb just 5 kilometres later as my springboard to attack Charlie. He had rode valiantly all day but I had managed to dislodge him now and entered time trial mode to the line.

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The attack.

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Time trial mode.

All in all the adventure out to the Cederberg Mountains was a success. Whilst we did miss Betsy, I won’t complain about the comforts either.

Also a big thank you to Nic, Nia and Megan for your behind the scenes efforts as well as to the Iqela Events team for another fantastic event.

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Swapping war stories.

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The podium.

Images credit: Iqela Events

Isuzu Trucks PE2Plett and the adventures of Betsy

Who is Betsy you may ask? No she is not my new girlfriend, she was our wheels for the week, a Landrover TD5, on our trip down to the Isuzu Trucks PE2Plett. A Landrover you say? Yes I can already see some of you smile, whilst the other half of cringe. We did have our moments with Betsy, but when the times were tough, she came into her own.

It was my first outing at the PE2Plett and I can confirm that it is not called ‘The Tough One’ for nothing. Unfortunately the area received some of it’s highest rainfall in years the week preceding the event. Undoubtedly the rain and mud does up the toughness factor a few notches.

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Betsy.

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Photo-bombing Greg & Anriette’s start line selfie.

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Stage 1 water point, where is the Squirt Lube?

The first stage would take the riders from Wedgewood Golf Estate on the outskirts of PE to the Gamtoos River mouth. A tough stage of about 90km, with the added mud and rain, those toughness factor dial was turned high.

Cyclo Pro, the race mechanics, did some good business that day as more then 150 sets of brake pads had to be replaced that evening! There is no such thing as easy money and it also meant that they had to work through the night.
Notwithstanding the weather conditions I had a solid ride winning the solo category on the stage and placing 3rd overall behind Contego PRO and Team Sponsor Needed. Alan Gordon, my main rival in the solo category finished a handful of seconds behind me as I took a risk on the final descent of the day which paid off.

Day 2 dawned with the sun in the sky, and so a smile on our faces. Betsy proved to be our first challenge of the day as she failed to start for the second time on the trip thus far. Visions of not making the start did cross my mind, they were not pleasant. I had travelled to the race with Team Sponsor Needed, Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock. By my own admission I am not the most technically apt car person, so I could just follow Waylon’s orders as we tried different tricks before Betsy roared with life and we were finally on our way.

The stage would be the real challenge, at a shade under 100km, unbeknownst to us, there was still a lot of water on the ground in the mountains. The first 30km ticked off quickly as we raced along the gravel roads. When we got down to the business end, sh!t got real quickly. It ultimately turned into a race of attrition. Whilst I struggled on the first major climb and the KOM of the stage, I rode into myself and through the field to eventually win the solo race again and place 3rd overall on the stage. The time gaps were big and I was pleased to have finished it off as I did, believe me there were some major sense of humour failure moments out there.

The road that the race cars and trucks had used to get to the finish at Soloko was a mess after the recent rainfall and many vehicles fell victim to the mud. Betsy, whilst towing a trailer, was a beast and got to the finish with no problems at all. She had made up for her earlier mishap.

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Day 2 start, riders in better spirits with the sunshine.

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Tough slog up the KOM on day 2.

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The road was that bad.

The third stage was changed by the organisers and I believe rightly so. The second stage had been exceptionally hard, granted the weather conditions had made matters tougher. Nonetheless the riders were tired and a slightly shorter, faster stage along mostly gravel, tar and forest roads was a welcome relief to the riders.

I simply did not have great legs on the stage and yo-yo’ed off the back of the front group on the climbs to have to claw myself back on the flats. I was dislodged for the last time on the final climb, Alan saw my weakness and took advantage driving the group to the line, taking back one and a half minutes of my overall lead, it meant that he had cut my overall lead back down to eight minutes.

Although I had a decent gap, I still approached the final stage with vigilance. Betsy had thrown the first curve ball as we had to push start her down the driveway of our guest house before she gently spluttered into life.

The stage started off at a rapid pace again. The first challenge was the Storms River Pass, one which I was familiar with. Contego drove the pace over the top and the lead group settled on the other side with the usual suspects including Contego PRO, Sponsor Needed, Altech Autopage and solo riders myself and Alan Gordon.

The lead group would remain civil until we approached the middle portion of the stage where the jagged stage profile meant the hurt box was approaching. There were the Bloukrans and Natures Valley climbs to negotiate and a major portage through the Salt River Valley. My legs had returned and I managed to win the final stage over Alan again and thus securing the overall title. Waylon and Darren had taken the team win again and in doing so the overall win.

There were some important people who made this trip happen. It was fantastic to be involved with the Asrin Team again, thank you Nizaam and Ishmail. Swift Carbon helped out with a D-Vore, shot Charlie and Marc. Throughout the year I have received some great backing from the likes of Trevor from PowerBar, Rae and Megan at Continental, Steven from Nike Vision, Dewet and the Squirt Lube team, Chris at Sludge and RH77. Thank you all for your support, it is valued.

It was a great week travelling with Darren and Waylon, and of course Betsy! Thanks for having me along for the ride guys.

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Pushing on.

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A few moments later I was chin deep with my bike above my head, no kidding.

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The finish line in Plett.

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Final podium.

Images credit: Bruce Viaene

BSI Steel Dusi2c: Dodge ball and the marginal gains theory

On Sunday morning, still in the cold and dark, Andrew and I started a very sarcastic conversation about marginal gains.

 

For those of you not in the know, the pro road team, Team Sky attributes a significant amount of their performance increases, to a series of marginal gains across a number of fields. One of these marginal gains recently involved their team leader for the Giro de Italia, Richie Porte staying in his own motorhome through the course of the 3 week race as opposed to moving in and out of hotels each day. The marginal gain being the energy and stress saved from having to pack and unpack each day.

 

Of course as mountain bikers in South Africa we found this quite entertaining as we’ve been using motorhomes as accommodation for stage races for years now. Ah Richie, we’ve been having it.

 

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Image credit: Anthony Grote

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Sundowners on the bank of the Dusi river, Black Label quarts from the Mfula store.

Image credit: Andrew Hill

 

But this really is beside the point, at the Dusi2c, we were slumming is so to speak and staying in a tent. Yes a thin piece of canvas was all that separated us and the cold winter air and I didn’t want to spoon with Andrew, no offence dude.

 

We would also be carrying a large 30kg plastic box. The box weight really was up to what you decided to pack, but my mentality is to bring anything I might need. The box had also strangely seemed to get heavier overnight. Ah Richie would be laughing at us having to lug our carry box to and from the transport trucks. Who has been having it now?

 

Whilst shivering and joking about having to carry our heavy boxes, and what old Richie would make of our marginal losses, we were fortunately saved by one of the volunteer school boys who promptly arrived with a trolley, which he could take boxes back to the truck for us with. SAVED!

 

Fortunately, the marginal losses didn’t seem to affect Andrew and I too drastically as we enjoyed a successful race in managing to win both stages and the overall title. Andrew knows the valley well, and being a GPS navigation race, this did help our case. We boxed smart through the two days and it paid off. It was my first time at the event, which traverses through the Valley of a 1000 Hills and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Image credit: Anthony Grote

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Image credit: Anthony Grote

 

Anyone who knows the valley of a 1000 hills will know that the locals let their livestock and animals roam free. This started a little game during the race, a dodgeball theme inspired one, dodge-animal. Obviously the goal was not to collide with any animals, because when connecting with a bull who is a few 100kg heavier than both of us put together, naturally we would come off second best.

 

Of course animal welfare was also an important topic!

 

So we set about counting how many different animals we would dodge during the 2 day race. We got up to 8. I say how many different animals and not how many animals, as I lost count of the number of cows and dogs in the first half, of the first day.

 

The more interesting sightings included a pot belly pig and a donkey, I kid you not. It was all part of the fun and the experience of travelling through the valley.

 

It added another aspect of entertainment for us to an already remarkable race. The BSI Dusi2C is one which you should put on your bucket list. It’s more authentic mountain biking if you will, and between assessing your marginal gains, playing dodge-animal and enjoying a sundowner quart at Mfula Store, you’re sure to have a great time!

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Locally made, beaded Nguni Bulls for the win!

Image Credit: Anthony Grote

Penny Pinchers Greyton Classic

It was my first venture out to the Penny Pinchers Greyton Classic over the past weekend. I had ridden and raced in the area before so had some idea of what to expect. The course would take in much of a 2014 Cape Epic stage, fortunately shortened by some 20km.

 

With the race offering and advertising some real prize money, the pros were attracted like bees to the honey pot. This is something myself and other riders feel that many race organisers could take a note of. Often racers don’t know how much prize money is on offer, sometimes if any. If you’re trying to race as a professional, this can become immensely frustrating.

 

The first selection of the day was made 15km into the race as Gert Heyns and Darren Lill upped the tempo on the first major climb to ultimately go clear. Shortly thereafter a chase group of 4 of us formed including: Conrad Stoltz, Charl Pierre Esterhuyse and Stephen Senekal. Our group worked well together. Stoltz was the victim of a puncture just past the half waymark and then there was just 3 of us.

 

With some degree of familiarity to the region I had an idea of what was to come, I knew the final 20km of the race encompassed a number of short steep climbs. I planned to up the pace in our group here to force a selection. The tactic worked as I rode away from the other two. The kilometres seemed to drag on for some time up to the final ascent up to the Castle. My thoughts were temporarily transferred from the pain in my legs to a stinging pain in my arm as I was stung by a bee! A welcome distraction perhaps?

 

The reward was some awesome trails down from the Castle, which brought us back down to The Oaks and the finish line, I was satisfied with 3rd on the day behind Gert who had taken the win and Darren in 2nd.

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The Catch Up Post Part 2: Sani2c, 100 Miler & the Great Zuurberg Trek

With Sani2c just day away I had to keep my head high and head into battle at the biggest mountain bike stage race in the country, if not the world. The racing was hot as expected, as some of the best riders in the country were on the grid.

 

The first stage didn’t start well and I was on the back foot with cramping earlier on than I would have liked. The second stage encompassed the famous descent into the Umkomas valley and I was keen to amends following a disappointing first day. The famous descent lived up to expectations and the legs were better but unforeseen tyre issues plagued Andrew. It was the luck of the draw and we salvaged what we could to fit again the final stage. Again we were ready to fight, and fight we did until Andrew unluckily cut a tyre 30km from the finish.

 

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The form felt good after Sani and I headed off to the AMARIDER 100 Miler in Malmesbury for another weekend of racing. I had by super backup team in Ash’s parents on hand to help. 164km is after all a long way and a solid nutrition strategy, as well as mechanical back up is always key. Fortunately the dreaded black mechanical bag (the bag where all the tools and spares are kept) didn’t need to be brought out. On the nutrition side I had an array of first class PowerBar drinks, bars and gels on hand to get me through the day.

 

The 100 Miler is a race I’ve wanted to win for some time and I was happy to finally get it right. To win a targeted race is a great feeling to tick it off the list.

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With the confidence back after another win, I packed my bags and climbed aboard the big bird and headed off to PE for my first go at the PWC Great Zuurberg Trek. I had again teamed up with Andrew and we were looking to improve on our last outing. We finished the first stage in 2nd place a minute and some change off Kevin Evans and Pieter Seyffert. From here it was up to us to make back the deficit and it afforded Kevin and Pieter the luxury of forcing us to push the pace. In doing so we managed to take the second stage, but we were unable to close the gap.

 

The final stage was a more technical stage encompassing the famed Hayterdale trails, we went out guns blazing in order to try and put our counterparts under pressure. Whilst we did initially manage to get a gap they showed panache in riding back to us. Ultimately it came down to a sprint again which we managed to win. Kevin and Pieter won the overall.

 

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It has been a busy few weeks. There have been disappointments but I feel that the successes have outweighed these and I am pleased with how these have panned out. This weekend it’s a weekend at home to relax a bit before the preparation for further events.