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

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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.

The Catch Up Post: Part 1

This is part one, in a two part catch up post from the racing over the past few weeks.

It seems as though it has been some time since I’ve last posted on the site again. It seems to have again slipped away. Fortunately since my last post, I’ve encountered a great block of racing and have achieved some results I’m very happy with.

Rewinding a few weeks, following the Gravel and Grape, it was off to Hermanus for a long weekend away. I then heard about a new event, the Walker Bay Urban Extreme Mountain Bike Criterium in town over the weekend and I couldn’t help but take part.

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What is an urban mountain bike criterium I hear you ask? Well, a short course mountain bike event often set within a town encountering urban obstacles as opposed to more natural ones and on a short criterium style lap. The Walker Bay Extreme had cobbles, steps and wooden bridges within the circuit set up in Hermanus by the Old Harbour winding its way through the various bars and restaurants.

It was a great concept and one which I hope grows next year. I managed to take the win on the day, as well as a hotspot on the second lap which totalled to a successful day out. Jarryd Hayley was second and Jürgen’s Uys in 3rd.

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Following the criterium I was called by Andrew Hill to ask if I would be keen to ride the Nedbank Sani2c with him in two weeks’ time. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity.

As a final tune up I headed off to Wellington, a short drive away for the annual Gravel Travel Classic. The Gravel Travel encompasses some of the finest trails in the Welvenpas Valley and is really a great event, unfortunately for me I wasn’t feeling as rad as the trails we were riding are and I called it a day to record my first DNF in some time.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.