To get the blog going i posted a few race reports which i had already done from the past few months.
To get the blog going i posted a few race reports which i had already done from the past few months.
The Unlimited Dusi Mfula Mountain bike Stage Race
The 2010 Unlimited Dusi Mfula mountain bike race took place over two days, which followed roughly the same course as the famed Dusi Canoe Marathon. The first day would see us riding 65km from Kingsthorpe estate down to Inanada dam and the second day a loop of 42km around the dam. I had teamed up with a friend of mine Hilton Frost and we would be representing Cube Bikes South Africa in the race.
The first stage kicked off at a frantic pace with teams TIB insurance and Thule/Morewood driving the pace. Unfortunately we just missed the front selection of four teams and this would mean we would spend the rest of the day chasing. A few kilometres on whilst negotiating the first of many single tracks for the day a section of rocks cut Hilton’s tyre and this would be the first of four punctures for the day for us. We got going again soon and continued to chase, riding through the valley which included many cattle path single tracks, wooden bridges, rocks and gravel roads. Towards the end of the stage we managed to catch and pass the Fego Cafe team to move into 4th place for the day.
With slightly more tender legs we hopped onto boats which would transport us across the dam to the start of stage 2. This proved to be extremely cold and it showed as we started. The hot pace on the first climbs saw us going backwards. Fortunately as we warmed up on the main climb of the day up to Shembe plateau we managed to catch the Fego Cafe team again, moving us up into 4th place. We descended on some fun single track down towards the dam despite being a bit sandy and rough in places.
One of the highlights of the day must have been riding along the edge of cliffs after descending down the Shembe plateau and seeing an amazing waterfall. From here we encountered more single track which led us to the dam wall. We pushed the pace in an attempt to catch the 3rd placed Thule/Morewood team. Unfortunately this was not to be but we did manage to ride 8 minutes into the 5th placed Fego Cafe team.
A big thank you to Darryl, Paul and Jacques from Cube Bikes South Africa for sponsoring us the entry, we really enjoyed the race. Also thank you to The Unlimited for backing the event and it was great to meet Theresa from The Unlimited at the finish.
Klein Karoo Klassiek 3 Day Mountainbike Stage Race
On Thursday myself and Erik Kleinhans(Mr Price/GT) set off for Calitzdorp for the 3 day Klein Karoo Klassiek. This was not before we had our fair share of bike problems but we were soon on the way with Erik being a fantastic Route 62 tour guide/navigator. We arrived at the Calitzdorp Spa 20km out of the actual town which would be our home for the next few days and promptly set up camp and then went to register. The Spa is well known for its hot water springs and we planned to make full use of the warm pools over the few days that we would be here.
Setting up camp.
The 1st stage of the race presented us with 95km of racing and 2200m of vertical ascent! The route consisted of mainly gravel roads with a long section of technical and rocky jeep track. We would also have to climb the brutal Rooiberg Pass from both sides! 30km into the race and after the first ascent of the climb Erik, myself and Pete Stopforth were on our own. We lost Pete just before the technical jeep track. One of the highlights of the race must have been riding alongside a herd of about 30 Cape Mountain Zebra for a few km’s in a private game farm. On our way back Erik surged ahead of me on the second ascent of the climb to solo ahead for a convincing win. We spent our afternoon sipping on numerous espresso’s compliments of Erik’s awesome espresso maker whilst watching the Springbokkies grazing in our camp.
Another espresso on the go.
92km was in store for us on the second day but thankfully a lot less climbing. A neutral sort of start took us back in the direction of the town and into a beautiful valley. This is where we would spend the majority of the days race winding amoungst the beautiful hills of Calitzdorp and the Red Stone Cliffs . The climbs up to the halfway point is where Erik, Pete and myself went clear again with Erik setting the pace most of the way back to the finish and taking the win again with myself in second and Pete in 3rd.
The final day was to be a race against the clock with a 40km time trial. Something which doesn’t happen very often in the mountain biking world. Compliments of Marsillo Projects a start ramp had been erected which was the biggest I had ever seen in my life. It was about 20m long and about 4m in height! Erik pretty much had the race sown up with a comfortable cushion over myself. Nonetheless with Erik starting a minute behind me i was going to push for as long as possible before he caught me. After about 25km he did. A few km later going through a water crossing that we had already passed through on the first day Erik went down just in front of me and then while trying to brake to miss him I went down! Must have been a good laugh for all those watching. Erik took the win on the day again making it 3 from 3 and winning the overall. I was second again and second overall with Pete 3rd. Thanks to the Dryland Events team for putting together a great event.
Image compliments of First Care Medics
A bit of an update from the Cyclelab/Toyota Cape Town team from the giro(please excuse spelling and grammer mistakes-too tierd to do that). We have been through two days now and on the whole all is going well.
Monday Today we had the team presentation and team meeting. The presentation was short and sweet with a bit of a tv thing with Johnny Koen to get our sponsers some good coverage. After the presentation we all sat down for a quick meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming days. Dean had been on a course of antibiotics for the few days leading up to the event and made the call not to ride that morning. This allowed Silvio Bundi(world class mountainbiker and past Cape Epic winner) to join the team. We were also fortunate to have Thomas Zahnd riding with us, Bundi’s epic partner this year and Shaun Ward formerly of Konica Minolta and blue jersey wearer of the 2008 giro. Our backup crew for the race consisted of Cliff Hopf(manager), Dean Hopf and Matt Wentworth(the helper boys 🙂 ). Our team thus looked as follows: Matthew Evans Chris Wolhuter Silvio Bundi Thomas Zahnd Shaun Ward Craig Butland
Tuesday Day 1 of racing proper lined up a stage of about 110km with the ascent of Bainskloof pass near the finish to make matters more interesting. The bunch kept together out of Wellington. We expected the gutter to go down in the section just before Nuwekloof pass where cross winds are always expected. And once again it did. A small break formed at the head of the race with the rest of the bunch splitting into two. Shaun, Silvio and Thomas were all in the 1st bunch with myself Matt and Craig in the second split after we got a bit held up by a crash. The break really drove the pace with all the GC contenders present. DCM had missed the move and paced hard on front of the 1st bunch to get their GC man Janse van Vensburg back in the mix, they didnt get him back. In the second bunch I helped with the pacing a bit just to make sure we would be in within elimination time(15% of winners time). Our bunch split up a bit on the ascent of Bainskloof with Matt and Craig dropping off. Matt wasnt feeling himself probably due to the course of antibiotics he had also been on in the previos week. We all managed to finish safely in the elimination time. Hasselbacher took the stage with Lange in 2nd and Stander 3rd.
Wednesday The 2nd day of racing brought us 145km of riding around the Vissershok circuit 3 times which would include an ascent of the Vissershok climb on each lap. Compared to last year when temperatures reached 45C on this stage conditions were overcast and rain looked promising. The first lap was harder than usual with the bunch letting no break go which resulted in us completing the lap in just under 1.10hrs. The race split on the climb as expected with a break of 20 riders going clear. The team was all smiles as Thomas and Shaun were both in the move. Myself and Craig were in the 2nd split on the climb but it all came together on the descent into Durbanville again. Bundi was in the first split and unfortunatly Matt was too far off to make it back and that would be his race and tour. The Kuota team from Germany wernt happy with the break as they were not represented so they drove had on the front through the second lap. This resulted in us doing another quick lap also just over an hour. Craig went off on the 2nd ascent of Vissers and would have to Solo it to the finish for the day fighting to make the elimination time which he did. Fortunatly things slowed down a bit on the 3rd lap until half way through where a few attacks saw the speed rise again. Myself and Bundi chilled in the bunch until the final ascent of Vissers which was only 5km from the line. Bundi finished strongly in the first bunch and I sat up on the climb to try and save the legs a bit for tomorrow. Shaun and Thomas had very good race’s and finished in 10th and 13th respectively. Results to be very proud of! Stander took the stage with Evans 2nd and George 3rd. So tomorrow we have the big stage of 175km which includes Francehoek pass and Du Toits Kloof pass and then on Friday the time trial up Signal Hill.
Will keep you guys posted.
Image compliments of Torque Pics
Hey guys and girls
Well we wrapped up a successfull giro del capo on Friday and then finished off with the World funrider Champs aka The Argus yesterday an now are all pretty tierd. Some of the team will be taking part in the Tour de Boland starting on Wednesday going on through to Saturday with some new and different stages. Bundi and Thom will be taking part in the Epic which starts on Sunday and are looking good for defnitly a top 10 finish, perhaps taking a few stages along the way? Anyway back to the race report.
Thursday The 3rd day of racing and the queen stage of the giro greeted us today. 171km of racing and two 1st catagory climbs! Francehoek Pass would come early in the stage after about 35km of racing and then Du toits kloof near the finish which would surely dictate the stage winner. The racing kicked off with the usual few attacks before a break eventually went clear before the town of Francehoek, this would mean there would be no big acceleration in the bunch for the sprint hot spot as the break would take the points. The bunch splintered on the climb with a few small groups forming out of the back. Over the top of the climb the chase to get back started and just past Villiersdorp all 5 of us were safely back in the peleton. The pace was fairly pedestrian for a while until we got closer to Worcester where some of the bigger teams with GC riders realised they would have to start chasing the break back as they had a 6minute gap! Dave Garrett(Daiken Gu) was at one stage the virtual leader of the tour as the break had such a significant gap.The gas turned on with the bunch stringing out as we hit the N1. I was one of the first to pop as the legs said no more and would finish they day losing a chunk of time coming home in one of the gruppetos. Craig found himself in a similiar situation but could hold on for longer than me. Bundi had a good climb and finished in the 3nd group of the day just 27seconds down on the winners. Thom and Shaun really brought their climbing legs along and finished in the first bunch of the day again and in the process taking two top 20 spots with Shaun in 16th and Thom 17th. Hanco Kachelhoffer took te stage with Burry in 2nd and Jacque Janse van Rensburg. Burry would be in pink for the final hill climb with only a handfull of seconds seperating himself, Dave George, Kevin Evans and Hanco.
Friday Today was the final day of the giro and a 5.5km Hill Climb time trial up signal hill greeted us. Riders would go off at one minute intervals with the top ten to be seperated by two minutes each. Personally i was quite looking forward to this stage as i had witnessed it as a spectator two years ago after crashing out of the giro and the crowd support especially around the hair pin bend looked awsum. So Craig was off first and then myself next, i went up in about 15.30 and Craig about 15-20secs more. Next would be Bundi and then Shaun and Thom. Shaun and Silvio both had solid rides and both finished in just over 14minutes. Thom had a little bit of pressure as he was lying in 11th and and a top 10 would be awsome! Thom had a really good ride taking 9th on the day but however losing a few more seconds to the rider in 10th on GC so he woulld stay 11th on GC. Burry had a good ride on the day, finishing in 3rd but unfortunately losing his pink jersey. Kevin also had an awsum ride breaking the record up the climb in 11.57 but only holding onto it for two minutes as George came up next and broke the record again coming in at 11.47!!!!!!!!Crazy!
Saturday We all took it pretty easy on the “rest” day going out for short spins just to keep the legs turning for the big one tomorrow.
Sunday Wow what an early start! The nice thing about the giro stages starting at 9am was that we didnt have to get up a stupid hour everyday. Unfortunatly today we did have to and a nice 4am wake up call. We all met up before the start with our super sub’s Dean and Carl joining the team to race against Impey and Mr legstrong along with the rest of the 180 strong bunch. Our manager Cliff was quite happy to be in 8th place in the convoy today, for those of you that dont know there is always a bit of competition amoung the managers to see who can be the highest placed in the team car convoy. Where your car is placed in the convoy is usually determined by where the tem lies in the team standings. We started in the dark with the usual flurry of attacks on the M3 until MTN decided to take control and put most of their team on the front driving the pace along. The crowds along the route were awsum, on some of the climbs it flt as though we were riding le tour or something, reallly enjoyed that. Myself and Dean were sitting a bit far back in the bunch and our geas just spun out on the tail wind descent just after Smitswinkel. We decided that we should form the gruppeto and by the end we had a 20-30 strong little bunch coming into the finish. Not long after Smitswinkel the pace was put down hard which caused the first split and then again a few Km later by Medscheme. This left a small bunch of 14 riders who would go clear to the finish. MTN’s tactis didnt seem to work as they only had 1 rider in the move who was outnumbered. Lange took the win with Christoff van Heerden 2nd, Impey 3rd and Burry 4th. Burry showing again that he can mix it up in the sprint. Legstrong finished 6 seconds down after leading Impey out. Ah shock and horror he didnt win!!! Probably not on form, ha ha. Im not 100% sure how the rest of the guys finished up. Mostly in a few small bunches just off the winners, cant seem to get my hands on the official giro results and the racetec site currently has too much traffic.
Well thats a wrap and on behalf of the team i would like to say a few thank you’s. Firstly to Cyclelab for the financial support as well as letting us use the club car and all the additional little extras that came with it, thanks Angela and Tim for all your help. Secondly to our manager Cliff for doing an awsum job, we really enjoyed having him as a part of the tea. To Shaun, Thomas and Silvio was really awsum having you guys ride with us. Was awsum to get to know you guys and to learn from you. To all thw wives and girlfreinds thank you for understanding and supporting the guys everyday! To Matt and dean for helping out in the back up car thanks very mcuh guys. Anyone that i have forgotten to mention im sorry but thanks very much. So all in all it was a very successfull tour with two top 10’s and three top 20’s on the various stages as well as the 8th team in the team comp and the best placed Cape Based team. Till next year, or two day time.
ABSA Cape Epic 2010 Race Report-Merlin Group
How it happened:
A couple of days before the Epic I had jokingly mentioned to a good friend of mine Erik Kleinhans that wouldn’t it be cool if I could ride the epic this year if someone was last minute looking for a partner kind of thing. I thought I should have the legs to be able to do it as I had recently competed in the Giro del Capo road stage race. Well Erik showed me an email he had received about a French guy looking for a partner. I followed my lead but in the end it didn’t work out but was told by the Cape Epic office that there may be a good chance of getting a last minute ride, i.e. on Saturday afternoon and that I should probably prepare my bike and get a few things ready. So Saturday came around and I waited all afternoon for the call. Eventually at about 5pm I said to my girlfriend Mel that “Ah it’s not going to happen.” kind of thing. Ten minutes later I got an unexpected call from a friend of mine Bunnie Loubser who had been referred to me by Erik. Bunnie was not feeling himself and had had blood tests done and had found out that day that he had glandular fever. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands; I was going to be riding tomorrow. I was so excited but at the same time quite sad and disappointed for Bunnie as that was his race down the drain. The next morning I found myself at Diemersfontein wine estate ready (well I hoped) for 8 days of mountainbiking.
Dist: 120km, Time: 5.45, Ascent: 2200m, Position: 40th
Well I got the call yesterday evening at 5pm to ride the epic. I was so excited but at the same time really sad for Bunnie. I met my partner Riaan and my whole support crew this morning. Ha ha. The atmosphere and vibe at the start was really cool and Mel, Len and Zoey (the puppy) were there to see me off. The day started off following the first 30km of the Wellington Gravel Travel race which had some awesome singletack. Up and over Bainskloof pass we then went and we were in a good bunch on the descent. We then turned off the tar and onto a rough road which brought us to the 1st water point and base of a 6km gravel road climb. Over the top the trail became very sandy on the plateau before we climbed bit more and then descended a hectic rocky descent. I struggled to keep up on my hardtail. Near the end of the stage came the 8km section of railway track. O shit! It was so tough! So hard on the body and near impossible to get a good rhythm going. I could feel a saddle sore forming because of it too. Finally we got to the end after what seemed like eternity. Welcome to the epic, it was a tough day. They surely couldn’t all be this hard?
Dist 90km, Time 5.05, Ascent 1750m, Position 33rd
The singletrack stage. The day kicked off at a brisk pace through dust and sand which formed a dark cloud as we went through it which at times really limited visibility. Riaan unfortunately had a bit of a tumble not too far into the stage but he seemed to be ok. Singletrack would account for 60 of the 90 km on the day including both climbs. There was a good mix of everything from rocky technical trail to flowing forest trail. After about 60km my upper body was shot, I just wanted smooth gravel road or even tar to the end. I felt good again towards the end of the day and got Riaan on my wheel and we powered. We caught quite a few teams in the last 10km and ended the day in a very solid 33rd place.
It gets dirty out there, my sock “tan” line from the dirt after a stage.
Dist 120km, Time 5.48, Ascent 1800m, Position 40th
Today saw a route change due to land access issues the big climb “Mount Evilrest” was out so our total ascent for the day would be about 450 vertical metres less.
The pace started off rather briskly again with the dust once again being really crap as we went out on the same road/sandpit as yesterday. Through the initial gravel road and tar sections we found ourselves in a good group within the top 30 teams. Friends Erik and Oliver (GT/Mr Price) were with us as Oliver was having some serious stomach problems. As we hit the first climbs and singletrack Riaan was struggling so we slowed to try and ride him into the day. A 4km gravel road climb brought us up to the first water point where I grabbed us some food and then rode back up to Riaan. A couple of km’s later we past the turn which would have taken us up the beast of Mount Evilrest, it looked brutal! By the 2nd water point I think we must have been down in about 60th but soon after Riaan started feeling better and we started to take back some of the places we lost earlier in the day. Through the last feed we had quite a few flat roads to the finish where we really managed to drive the pace and take back a few more positions to finish 40th on the day and I think still 35th on GC.
Dist 89km, Time 4.45, Ascent: 1640m, Position 47th
We left Ceres today which hopefully meant leaving the sand pit behind. I told Riaan that we should really push for a top 30 today as many teams would be struggling after a tough first 3 days.
Through the first few km’s on the tar we both felt good and had the legs right but as we turned off onto the first jeep track I could feel my rear wheel losing air. I stopped to bomb it and it seemed to hold but 10km later I had to stop and bomb it again. I shook the wheel and made double sure it sealed and went in pursuit of Riaan. A couple of km later I realised it wasn’t going to hold and I would have to put a tube in. When I got the tyre off the problem revealed itself, the Stans sealent had all clogulated (is that even a word?)into a big blob and hence there was not enough liquid in the wheel to seal the hole. I got the tube in and off I went.
The views and riding in the Breede rivier valley were awesome! We started to make back time and positions towards the end but the top 30 would elude us today. We hit some sweet flowing singletrack near the end which you could really throw the bike into the corners. We finished off solidly just under 5 hours.
Off the start ramp we roll to start our time trial.
Dist 27km, Time 1.24, Ascent 860m, Position 40th
The short time trial today could almost be viewed as a rest day after a hard relentless first four days. The best thing was that we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and we made friends with our beds for a bit longer. Mel also came through for the day to support ad it was so good to see her again.
The start of the time trial was fast and flowing and really fun. There was an urban mtb feel to it. Once out of town we hit the rocky and dusty climbs and descents which made up most of the course. Coming back towards the finish we hit some of the sweet flowing singletrack from the previous day. I was having a whole load of fun and launched off a few of the small jumps on offer. All in all we didn’t go too badly on our time trial but it wasn’t a rock star performance either.
Dist 123km, Time 5.48, Ascent 2150m, Position 42nd
We started off the day leaving Worcester in a neutral convey for the first 7km. We managed to stay in the front group for the first 45mins of racing as it was mainly flat gravel and tar roads. The first major climb of the day was up to a radio mast which was pretty tough jeep track climbing. Near the top I managed to take my first tumble of the race going over a fence which had been laid down, my big chain ring caught on some of the wire and down I went.
Mostly sections flat, downhill and a few short drags took us the base of the feared Groenlandberg climb. The first 4-5km was on a good gravel road which was fairly steep and then took us to the last water point of the day. The next half of the climb was more gradual along jeep track but quite rocky and sandy in places. Over the top the view of Oak valley was amazing! We descended quite quickly and then hit some sweet flowing singletrack and cool bridges and berms all the way to the finish.
Part of the race village in Worcester.
Dist 99km, Time 5.15, Ascent 2150m, Position 31st
Today was a hardcore stage!
It was so cold at the start I didn’t want to give my warm up jacket to Marli. The rolling climbs at the start were hard, fairly short but steep. Down to the first water point after 30km’s we then crossed under the N2 freeway where on the gravel roads a fair size bunch formed. The climb of the day Dassenberg came unexpectedly. It was a bitch! First we had to cross the Beech, a very sandy section with a nice portage up a steep bank. We then climbed on jeep track which was very sandy with loose rocks in places resulting in us having to run on numerous occasions. The summit of the climb saw us greeted with rain and strong wind=super cold! The singletrack down though was super fun and made it all worth it. Nearing the end of the day we managed to pass a few teams and then hold our position over the last 10km of singletrack to the finish. 31st… bitter sweet. Just outside the top 30 but our best position yet. One more day to go!
Dist 63km, Time, Ascent 1650m, Position 32nd
The last day of this year’s epic, as tradition would have it shorter than the other days but still challenging nonetheless with 1650m of ascent. I was happy to almost be finished but sad at the same time to be leaving such an awesome event, I mean what was I going to do tomorrow? Go back to lectures?
The start was really cool as all the catering staff had come to cheer us off. We started off quite well with Riaan riding like Sea biscuit! Passing through Grabouw we reached the foot of the climb of the day. The jeep tracks which formed the last ¾ of the climb were brutal! Quite steep and very loose and rocky, I still have a triple chain ring and this was the first time in the race I used it. It allowed me to spin a light gear and I almost made it all the way to the top without stopping. The downhill was equally rocky and extremely technical.
Nearing the end of the race we reached the compulsory portage over Gamtoe pass where the ox wagons had come many years before us. What was quite cool was that you could see the grooves in the rocks that the wagons had left. At the top of the pass a view of the cape greeted us and I knew we were home now. We looped around the Lourensford valley and then into the finish. Wow what a feeling, the last 500m or so you ride through a finishing chute which is lined with hundreds of cheering spectators. I must say it is quite an emotional thing going over that finishing line. Out of nowhere Riaan produces a bottle of champagne which we sprayed each other with and glugged down the rest. Wow what an experience.
The wrap up
A lot of people have a lot of negative things to say about the Cape Epic. I must say there are a few things they could improve on but really on the whole it is an amazing experience and something every cyclist and even non cyclist should look to do in their lives. You will visit some of the most beautiful places in this country and the world where at times it’s just you, your partner and your bikes and nothing else. It really is the epic, it’s not an easy race and you will be challenged on numerous occasions every day. When you have finished it is something you can really be proud of competing in and accomplishing. We finished in 36th position and in a total time of 37hours and 10 minutes!