Old Mutual Joberg2C stage 2 and 3: The racing begins

Its day 3 at the Old Mutual Joberg2c and we are now well and truly into the race. We have traversed the flatlands of the Free State and make our way off the escarpment into Kwa-Zulu Natal tomorrow. I’m looking forward to the awesome trails that await us.

 

The racing has had a different dynamic to it with the GPS navigation. With stage 2 being the first day of racing with the GPS’s it was more conservative than usual, and a big group remained intact until some 20km to go where the racing heated up. One or two navigational errors in the front group forced some teams to chase back on late in the race; whilst the gaps were only 20-30 metres, closing them in the final kilometres in the race can hurt. We managed to get 4th on the stage in a 5 team sprint, a result we were happy with.

 

As we became more accustomed to the GPS’s the racing returned to a more ‘normal’ structure today. Again it got hard later on in the stage with just 6 teams still in contention. Hanco and I under the Karan Beef banner along with EAI Cycling, Cannondale/Blend, Fedgroup Itec, Contego and Europcar all represented in the front.

 

We lost the group as we needed to stop for liquids at the last water point, but thanks to some powerful efforts from my team mate we fought our way back to 3rd on the stage and on the GC. EAI Cycling and Cannondale Blend are tied on exactly the same time at the head of affairs. It was awesome to be on the podium and we will be eagerly defending our position in the coming days.

 

Being back in KZN tomorrow will be a home coming of sort, it’s where I was brought up and learnt to love the awesome sport that mountain biking is.

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Old Mutual Joberg2C Day 1: Koeksister Strategy

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Three water points, two koeksisters at each, six for the day, simple nutrition strategy for the opening day of the Old Mutual Joberg2c.

 

The last water point at Bambini forced me to change this strategy somewhat, where I had to swap my koeksisters for marshmallows, dipped in condense milk and then rolled in crumbed chocolate… Tough day I can see you thinking, it sounds like we are on eating camp, but I’m really not. With the first day of the Joberg2C being a neutral one we were able to enjoy the water points much more than what we usually are. The rumours of their excellence where all true and even exceeded expectations

 

Besides the eating, Hanco and I had a good trouble free day. I was able to test out my newly fitted XX1 drivetrain which I really enjoyed.

 

In preparation for the real racing to start tomorrow we will be refuelling with Karan beef steaks tonight and swapping our koeksisters for energy bars and gels in the morning.

Old Mutual Joberg2C – Team Karan Beef

After an exceptionally busy two months I enjoyed the last weekend at home this weekend. It has been great to not have to live out a bag and be in one place for more than a couple of days!

 

Cape Town was met by some unseasonably hot temperatures over the weekend. The mercury hit 36C, with not a breath of wind. Exceptionally unusual for April when autumn usually starts to set in. I’ll take the heat over the cold and rain any day though so I wasn’t complaining.

 

Something I also realised over the weekend is that I haven’t done a proper full training week since the beginning of February! The schedule has been: race, recover, sharpen, race and then repeat. I think I’ve maintained decent form through the period though so I am happy with it.

 

The training I have been doing is gearing up for my next challenge. The Old Mutual Joberg2C which kicks off next week Friday. I will be partnering up with Hanco Kachelhofer and we will be racing the 9 day stage race under the Karan Beef banner. It will be my first time at Joberg2C and to say I am excited would be an understatement. I’ve heard many favourable reviews of the race and with Hanco and I in good shape, we have set our goals high. Our secret weapon will be eating Karan beef steaks every night, high in protein and iron!

 

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The ginger ninja, AKA my partner Hanco, considering a career change, interested agents can get in touch with me #schmodel.

 

For those of you not familiar with the race, it starts on the outskirts of Joberg from the Karan Beef farm; it then traverses for 3 days across the Free State until you arrive at what is traditionally the start of the 3 day Berg and Bush race. We follow the awesome Berg and Bush trails for 3 days before arriving at the start of the final third of the race. In somewhat familiar territory for me now, the last 3 days of the race follow the Sani2C race where we will finish on the beach in Scottbrugh some 9 days later. It will be an adventure for sure! If you want to check it out a bit more, here is the race website: http://www.joberg2c.co.za/

 

The race will broadcast on Supersport each evening at 9.30pm on SS8 in a 15minute highlights package, so tune in to catch us hopefully ripping up the trails at the sharp end.

 

Until next time, I’ve got a couple more days at home to enjoy and some Easter eggs to eat this weekend!

 

Ciao

 

 

Lights by Linea executive corporate TOR

In its second edition, the Lights by Linea executive corporate TOR was a resounding success. After having done a couple of races on the tarmac for the Lights by Linea team, I was invited to join the TOR for its lap around the Cape. The Lights by Linea team was there to act as super domestiques, pacing guys back in and the occasional push to get the corporates back into their respective groups, after they had been dropped by their more competitive counter parts.

 

The TOR is a 3 day, social ride around the Western Cape. I say social, but the more competitive bunch of the 30 plus corporates did trade a few punches! The name TOR is derived from a heavy South African, east rand accent play on the word, Tour. Try it for yourself…

 

The first day of the TOR kicked off in Stellenbosch; the riders would need to traverse the: Helshoogte, Franschoek and Viljoens passes before they could sink into a couple of cold ones at Houw Hoek Inn. This would also mark their departure point on the second stage before travelling in an easterly direction towards Caledon, with a final kick towards the sea to finish the stage in Hermanus. On paper this day may have looked easier but the howling wind had other ideas. The third and final stage would leave Hermanus, follow the scenic R44 along the coast before heading back to Stellenbosch.

 

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Pistol Pete with his bags for the weekend, when you see him next please ask him to explain the benefits of using a large, clear plastic bag as his luggage.

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Refuel in Franschoek.

 

As you can see it was no walk in the park and the beers and buffet meals would have to be earned. As I was fighting off a bit of a head cold after a low immune system after the Epic, I took the soft option and sat in the following cars for the first half of each day before a leisurely pedal to the end of the stage. I timed my riding perfectly each day, only getting out on the bike after the passes or when the wind was behind us.

 

Whilst the TOR allowed some downtime and socialising, everyone had to remain on their toes as the fines crew were hard at work, looking for any slip ups. Some of the fines got serious, a borat suit to be worn in the next stage being one of them…

 

All in all it was a fantastic 3 days and the Lights by Linea crew and support staff put on a superb, well organised event, which I think many will be eager to return to next year. It was also fantastic on my behalf, to be able to ride bikes in a more leisurely fashion without the pressure of racing and to enjoy a beer or two in the evenings with a double serving of dessert.

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Regrouping on top of Franschoek pass.IMG_20140406_105004

Lights by Linea team come to the rescue of Borat AKA horns, note: suit being worn incorrectly, fine.

Support Structures at the Epic

With our lap of the Cape coming to an end on Sunday, I’ve had some time to reflect one a magnificent week of mountain biking. Ultimately a race of such nature requires you to have support structures in place which can help you through it. The ABSA Cape Epic really is the pinnacle of the sport and we are privileged to have this race on our doorstep, more so than what some realise I think. Jose Hermida summed it up quite nicely I think, he described the 3 monuments of mountain biking to be the World Championships, Olympic Games and the Cape Epic, quite something.

 

Simon and I had a great week on and off the bikes. The Epic is not easy and we found ourselves sharing many moments, sometimes in the middle of what feels like nowhere. After Simon proclaimed to me towards the end of stage two, after slogging it out in the mud for 5 hours ‘that he was in a dark place’ I again realised that we would need to support each other through the race, help each other where we could and ride off each other. Conserving energy, boxing smartly and the odd push or two can mean a world of difference.

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Image Credits: Ash Smit

Off the bike the week would not have been possible without some fantastic support. Friends, family and sponsors all make a week like this do able. Their support in so many different ways is invaluable and I am very grateful for it.

 

I was lucky to have my sister working on the race as a massage therapist so we could catch up each day and then had my parents join for the final 3 days of the race. It was great for them to get a taste of what the Epic is, as it is just so much bigger than the other races at the moment. Their support was awesome and it was great to share it with him, especially crossing the line and joining the Amabubesi Club (the finishers club for riders who have done 3 epics).

 

I also had Ash and her family supporting on the week and their encouragement and help too was invaluable. As you can see Ash was behind the lenses again capturing some great shots.

 

Bear with me here as I have some important people to thank.

 

My body and bike mechanics were awesome. To the boys at Trail & Tar: Kevin, Clint and Grant, your work and service was great, my Merida Big 99 ran flawlessly the whole week. Aided by Squirt Chain Lube and Continental Tyres with Sludge Sealant I had no chain issues and did not have a single flat the whole week… impressive if I may say so myself.

 

To get my body back in working order each day I must thank Meg’s at R.E.S.T therapists, while she may have induced further pain after each tough stage, it did help repair me for the next day. I was also fortunate enough to have a generous supply of Enervit nutrition to keep me fuelled on the bike and to refuel with as we finished each stage.

 

As you can imagine all these things cost $$$, to assist me on this front I was fortunate to receive backing from Glasshouse Consulting and DC76 who stepped in without hesitation 4 days before the start of the race. Again I am most grateful for this, thank you DuToit and Randy! Check out their awesome new team site: www.glasshouse-dc76.com

 

As you can see many support structures and pillars are required in order to get through something like this. While we may not have been racing at the real sharp end of the race, I feel that I have unfinished business with the Epic and I look forward to returning, hopefully next year to chase those elusive goals. I am fortunate to have built a base around me whom I trust and can rely on; their support to me is invaluable and will play an important role in my future in cycling.

 

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Mucnhing some delicous Woolworths Christmas Cake.

Image Credit: Ash Smit

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Image credit: Oakpics