Route 69 Mountain Bike Experience Stage Race – Day 1 and 2

So last weekend’s race wasn’t one for the books, however this weekend, things are looking on the up! 

Although I am not used to riding in Gauteng we have ridden some superb trails, and I will definitely be paying Van Gaalens Cheese Farm a visit again.

Yesterday the Route 69 Mountain Bike Experience started off with an 80km stage with some 1100m of ascent.

The distances of each stage, not too long but countless kilometres of single track and rough terrain make up for it. 

After an hour of racing my partner Sean Williams and I found ourselves at the front of the race with one of the solo riders, Shaun Leech (Honda/GT).

Not long after that… Sean suffered his first puncture of the day, we managed to plug it and get going again fairly quickly but that was not the end of it. Four punctures later, two tubes (including a 26” tube being stretched onto a 29” wheel), ten bombs and countless plugs we saw ourselves finish the day a good 19 minutes off the first team. 

This morning we had our work cut out for us and Sean and I started racing from the gun. We were the only team in the front group with Shaun Leech, Henry Uys (Northcliff Cycles), Delanie Impey (Toyota/Cycle lab) and a Dutch rider whose name I didn’t get. We covered the first 23km in 55minutes which included a fair amount of single track, not bad going on mountain bikes!
At the base of the first climb the single riders hit it hard, while Sean and I backed off a bit; A steep, rocky technical climb brought us to the top of the first mountain. 

Not more than 10kilometres later we caught the first two from the lead group who were now blowing and subsequently dropped them. The plan was not to chase Delanie and Shaun as they were not competing in the same category as us, but we did as they turned around after bad route marking. We found the track and continued on with them until they left us on the climbs towards the finish. 

We pushed all the way to the line to take the stage in the team category some 14minutes after the next team. Feels great to win again! 

Tomorrow we need to ride hard again to take back another 5 minutes to be in contention to win the team race overall.

Advertisements

MTN Clarens National Ultra Marathon

My ten day trip up to the Highveld started off with a trek in a south western direction off to the little dorpie of Clarens. The town has become a tourist hot spot over the last few years but for us was the host of the MTN National Ultra Marathon. This was to be the 3rd race in the series and my second after missing Barbeton.

“Team Car!”

 

The rain bucketed down the day before the race but after riding parts of the start and finish it appeared as though the area drained quickly so I didn’t worry too much.

Come race morning we started in overcast cool conditions and all seemed to be fine until about 15km when we started hitting the mud. Although I was in the first group of riders going over these sections the mud was beautifully churned up already! Not more than 5km later the chain suck started. This was the end of the day for me at the front end of the race.

The Start

Photo Credit: Zoon Cronje

 

I clicked into survival mode and decided to take the shorter 80km route home as opposed to the planned 113km. Unfortunately; the mud destroyed my drive train. I did however manage to enjoy some sections of the course such as the slick rock riding.

All in all it wasn’t a day to remember but I guess you have to take the good with the bad and I live to fight another day.

This weekend is the Route 69 Mountain Bike Experience which I will be doing with Sean Williams one of my main sponsors.

African XCO Championships 2011

I had the privilege of representing my country this past weekend. Something I did not thing I would be able to say just yet in my cycling career but obviously a long term goal for me. Albeit it was for the Invitational team (sort of the B team) I was very proud, excited and nervous to be able represent South Africa last weekend at the African XCO (cross country Olympic) Championships at Jonkershoek just outside my hometown Stellenbosch.

Powering past the feed zone(trying to at least)

Image compliments Chloe Clegg

 

I only found out on Friday afternoon I would be racing the next day(bit of a communication mix up) and had to leave a 2 day shoot I was on to be there. A big thanks to Sandy for sorting this out, this race was something I could simply not pass up on. A rushed Friday evening and Saturday morning was spent getting the bike ready, sorting out my bottles (filled with PVM) and organising support crew for the feed and tech zones(thanks Jess and Tim).

Negotiating the rocky single track.

Image compliments Chloe Clegg

 

The race finally came around at 2pm on Saturday afternoon, as expected it was hot and the heat was on from the gun. The course had changed completely from when I had ridden it earlier in the week and was significantly more rocky and had more running sections than before, except if you were Burry Stander that is. I felt good on the climbs but struggled technically making silly stupid mistakes I would never usually make. This frustrated me more every time I faltered and ended up losing me more and more time. Need to keep my head in the future and settle into my own rhythm.

One of the bigger rocks on the technical descent.

Image compliments Cherie Vale.

 

Unfortunately I was lapped by none other than Mr Stander but 17th position was something I was fairly satisfied with and if my understanding of the UCI rules is correct I should now have enough points in the bag to compete in the Pietermaritzburg round of the XCO World Cup Series in April. Although the past few years I have focussed my attention on marathon racing I enjoyed the cross country race and will look to do a few more this year.

Francehoek Lions Porcupine Ridge Duathlon…

I was off to Francehoek past weekend for the Francehoek Lions/Porcupine Ridge mountain bike race, ok so it wasn’t really a duathlon but stay tuned! A fairly short 48km event presented itself but it would be tough no doubt with two very rough, rocky and fairly long climbs in the way. I decided to ride to the start and back home again after to get in some miles for the upcoming ultra marathons. I had had a good week of training leading up to the event and I was keen to test my legs although I knew in the back of my mind I couldn’t expect the fireworks, yet…

A select group of 7 of us got away within a few km’s of the start, Adriaan Louw (Contego/Giant/Sludge), Shan Wilson and Timo Cooper(Anderson Transport) were a few of the guys making up the selection. Shan was the first to exit the group after going through a donga at some speed his front wheel somehow hooked in and his frame cracked in half near the headset! Better get a Cube next time hey Shan 😉

Apparently there is a Cable Tie shortage in the Cape. 

 

We hit the first major climb 15km’s in, it was one I recognised from previous races and knew what a beast it could be. I tapped off a bit maintaining a pace that I knew I could maintain to the top, it wasn’t enough to stay up front.

The next 20 or so km’s saw us winding through vineyards and orchards on the outskirts of Francehoek. It was pretty flat and this suited me better and I pushed hard to make up lost time.

The last major climb of the day was a tough 6km; it reminded me of the Attakwas somewhat. Just over half way up I could hear someone behind me around a hairpin bend and this sent me to kick down a gear and push to the top. I went pretty hard on the technical downhill too and opened the gap up on Petrus Malherbe.

A few kilometres of undulating dirt roads took us to the finish. After taking one too many risks and I burped my rear tyre on one of the concrete pipes. I tried to bomb it but this was to no avail. I looked at my bike computer thought it was only 1.5km to the finish so though I could try run it in and hold my position. What I thought was a pretty impressive 4mins a km in cycling shoes with a bike J running eventually got slower and slower until I was walking… 1.5km’s had turned into four and it was a lost cause. In hindsight had I known it was 4km to the finish a tube would have been quicker but hey you know what they say about hindsight?

The race was good training nonetheless and I’ve put in another good few days this week. Next week it’s up to Joburg for 10 days for the MTN Clarens National Ultra Marathon and then the 3 day Route 69 Mountain bike stage race.