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

2015 season is a go!

2015 has got off to a cracking start. On the bike Hanco and I have been getting some good miles in, in preparation for the 2015 season. Yes our team goes on this year, thanks largely to the support of Altech Autopage. There will be a more formal announcement shortly with details on the project for the year!

 

Off the bike it feels as though it hasn’t stopped. ASS MAGIC has been busy; I am not complaining and finalising orders for RH77 for the Epic has been manic!

 

After some time at my parents farm over the festive season it was back to the Mother City for a few days to get the year started, and then I was off to George for a week to do a training camp with Hanco. This year we are riding Specialized World Cup Epics… Yes everything you have heard about the bikes is true. They are fantastic machines and I am pleased to be riding one this year.

 

George is a great place to train, there are many dirt roads and awesome trails which allowed us to get in some good time on the mountain bikes. This can sometimes be difficult in Cape Town with you needing to do stretch’s on the tar to link the various mountain biking areas together if you are wanting to do a long ride. A ride out to Knysna on the 7 passes road was also a treat and probably one of my favourite rides along with a stop-over at the Garden Route Trail Park.

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George forests.


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Map of Africa with our new steads.

I was finally back in the Cape Town and before we knew it we were lining up for the first national marathon of the year at Meerendal Wine Estate. Ashburton Investments has come on board as a new sponsor of the series this year and there is a feeling that they have stepped up the game with a kitted out race village at Meerendal.

 

The ULTRA marathon was going to be an exceptionally tough long day. 106km and 2900m of ascent awaited us. The profile was jagged, and meant we were constantly going up or down without much flat roads or exceptionally long climbs.

 

Much of the course took in the famed trails of the Tygerberg mountain bike club’s network and I think that this was certainly right up there in one of the best courses we have done on the national marathon circuit in the last few years.

 

On the results side there weren’t too many fireworks for Hanco or I. We were 17th and 20th respectively. Alban Lakata won the race with Erik Kleinhans in 2nd place.

 

 

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Image credit: Diana Carolin

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Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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New race village.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

 

Over the past weekend I raced a local classic road race, the 99er. The 108km race has been on the calendar for some years now and has a tough finish to it with the ascent of Vissershok in the final 8km of the race followed by a 1km climb up Odendaal Street to finish the race.

 

With SA road champs on the same day one may have thought that the peloton would not be as strong as usual, this was however not the case with a host of mountain bike professionals and most notably Simon Geschke from the Giant Alpecin PRO TOUR team on the start line.

 

I unfortunately punctured 50km into the race and with no neutral support my race was done for the day. Geschke won the race with the Cannondale Blend duo of Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock rounding out the podium.

 

Our calendar is as follows:

 

13 – 15 February – DuToit Tankwa Trek, Ceres

21 February – Ashburton Investments Sabie National Ultra UCI, Sabie

27 February – 1 March – Garden Route 300, Knysna

8 March – Cape Town Cycle Tour (Argus), Cape Town

 

Come say howzit if you see us at the races!

 

 

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Bike setup with my team mate and renowned bike fitter Hanco.

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Cafe stop on the 7 Passes road.

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 Knysna Lagoon.

Resolution Health Zurreal – Ride the Rhino – Stage 1 and 2

Overcast, drizzly and generally quite chilly conditions greeted us for the start of the 3 day Resolution Health Zurreal Ride the Rhino. Our starting point was the Langebaan Country Estate. The first stage would see us traverse the coast line before heading inland towards Darling to our overnight stop. Day 2 presented a 90km loop starting and finishing in Darling with the final day starting in Darling and finishing off at Hillcrest in Durbanville.

 

On the racing front a relatively flat first 50km and a strong headwind, meant a large group of 30 riders stayed together. After turning inland towards the hills, the EAI team heated affairs at the front; the racing was unfortunately short lived. Some confusion with route markers had arisen, and ultimately the day would be neutralised later on. On the plus side the weather had cleared up into a sunny west coast day, with the many daisies in bloom at this time covering the countryside. I was having visions of wet, muddy camping… Not ideal having not brought my gumboots with!

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The peloton leaves the picturesque Langebaan.

Image credit: Chris Hitchcock

 

After some charming local hospitality at the Darling Country Club and the promise of better route marking we set off on the second stage of the Ride the Rhino. A tougher day was on the cards and the early highlight the, Renosterveld Singletrack. The racing split the field up here and I soon found myself on my own, dangling a tantalizingly close 30 seconds off the EAI pair of Rabie and Combrinck. 2 against 1 in the wind isn’t fun, this 30 seconds soon turned into a few minutes.

 

Respite from the wind was brought on by the Dassenberg Donder… Yes the name says it all, it was a b*tch of a climb! The lower slopes being exceptionally rough through the veld and fynbos until we hit the jeep track to take us to the tower on top. My first sighting of the cement strips brought a sense of relief, to enjoy something smoother you know, soon replaced by ah sh!t, this is going to get steep! And it did get steep, 28% steep!

 

A quick dash off the side of the mountain and we arrived at the final water point at Cloof Wine Estate, also the hosts of the Rocking the Daisy’s music festival. The EAI boys had taken a wrong turn and I was now upfront on my own. The South Easter, who I had cursed earlier, was now my friend as the tail wind pushed me back to the finish in Darling. EAI found their way again, and we rode the last 20km into the finish together.  They had won the team category and me the solo category.

 

There won’t be a dash to the finish line tomorrow, an 88km stage with some nasty looking spikes towards the end of the route profile suggests otherwise!

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Good morning Darling!

Image credit: Chris Hitchcock

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Steve being rad in his pink Speedo and Rhino Horn. I believe he has ridden both full stages like this. Maybe he needs some ASS MAGIC?

Image Credit: Chris Hitchcock



Tip Trans Experience

I‘ve been doing a lot more riding as opposed to racing over the past few weeks but last weekend it was back to what I am paid to do, race my bike.

 

It was an early start on Saturday morning to make the journey out to Citrusdal for the Tip Trans Experience. A 115km marathon starting and finishing just outside Citrusdal, we would do a loop in a northerly direction over the Nieuwoodt pass, along the banks of the Clanwilliam Dam and then back to Citrusdal. It really was a very scenic race and I am glad I made the mission out there for the first time.

 

The race started with us following one of the Tip Trans 20 wheeler trucks out of town piloted by the Tip Trans owner, Pieter Visser. A lead group of about 15 riders soon formed and then was whittled down to 6 riders over a frolling climbs before we hit the Nieuwoodt pass 30km into the race.

 

Louis Bressler Knipe set a steady tempo on the front until 2km from the top when Johann Rabie attacked and went clear to win the KOM. Louis and I joined Rabie on the descent and the 3 of us rode together for most of the remainder of the race. On mostly gravel roads it would not have been pleasant to be on your own especially with a building South Easter on the 30k stretch back to the finish.

 

With the last 10km of the race turning off the gravel road onto jeep track this is where the race would be made. Rabie attacked up a rocky climb 5km out, I responded but just couldn’t get onto his wheel and so the furious time trial to the line commenced with Rabie taking honours, myself in 2nd and Louis rounding out the podium.

 

Rabie and I had also both gone under the previous course record of 4.01 set by David George in 2012, Rabie finished in 3.57 with myself just over a minute later.

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Tip Trans Experience podium with Pieter Visser.

 

The next two months are going to be very busy on the racing front and I am glad to have started it off on a positive note.

 

In Joburg Hanco raced on the road at the Dome2Dome Classic where he took a great 3rd place behind the Bonitas duo of Jayde Julius and Herman Fouche. A result made more impressive as he was racing as an individual against all the road domestic pro teams.

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Dome2Dome Classic Podium.

Altech Autopage Jozi2Kozi

A week has passed since I arrived home from the most memorable bike riding trip from Joburg to Kozi Bay. The 3rd edition of the Altech Autopage Jozi2Kozi was a resounding success. With the emphasis very much being that of a ride as opposed to a race, there wasn’t even a timing system; it changed the feel of the event in a very good way

 

We started off riding through the platteland for the first two days, the first night being hosted by the Standerton boat club. Their home brewed mampoer would rather be forgotten by most. It was dangerous.

 

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Leaving the concrete jungle for a week of riding through some remote areas, a stark contrast.

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Welcomed to the start on Day 1, yes I know it says finish on the banner.

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 After our overnight stop at the Standerton Boat Club(Read Mampoer capital of the world), day 2 starts with a boat ride across the dam. You have to jump off the boat into about 30cm of water on the other side and walk to the shore where your bike awaits. Did I mention it was 4C, never mind the wind chill on the boat and the icy water.

 

With the changing countryside and the mountainous terrain appearing on the horizon, the end of the 3rd day saw us ascend and then ride through Udo’s crater. Quite a remarkable experience and something the photos don’t do much justice. Again a memorable evening was in store for us with the German community in the hamlet of Luneburg hosting us.

 

 

From Luneburg we traversed into the rolling hills of Zululand and were now well and truly into Kwa Zulu Natal. Our first evening here was hosted at a cattle kraal, in what felt like was the middle of nowhere. Our journey through Zululand continued through to Lake Sibaya and then onto Kozi Bay on the coast.

 

 

Once in the Zululand region, along with Altech Autopage CFO Thinus, Hanco and I assisted at the school handovers. Altech donated financial resources to uplift schools, as well as gifts for the children, these will go a long way in uplifting their communities. A handover was also done for the anti-poaching unit at the Zululand Rhino Reserve which we had the privilege of riding through

 

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Before our first school handover Thinus found this dog at a water point, he called me aside and said imagine if Hanco was dog, he would be like that one. Small and red… The Ginger Ninja is a good sport and posed for a photo with his fury friend.

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This ‘castle’ in what was another ‘in the middle of nowhere’ moments greeted us as our first water point on day 2.

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Sunrise over Luneburg.

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Fast 30k on the tar to start day 3, helped get through the day a bit quicker.

 

It was really a remarkable 7 days of riding across an area of the country which for me and many others was largely unexplored. I met some awesome people, people who I am sure I will be friends with for years to come.

 

 

ASS MAGIC was also a sponsor of the event and I think it helped a large number of people through the tough 7 days on their ASSES! The feedback was great and the ‘ASS MAGIC ass of the day’ was a daily fun award given to someone who had made an ASS out of themselves.

 

 

I didn’t want to write too much about Jozi2Kozi but rather reflect onsome photos from the week. In their own way, they tell much more of a story, give you the reader a visual insight to the journey.

 

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The Pongola River, beautiful setting, with Crocs and Hippos below the surface. We had to cross this river.

 

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After we had made it safely across the Ginger Ninja went back to help his wife cross. I on the other hand took photos, awesome team mate.

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Riding selfie through the Zululand Rhino Reserve.

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Whilst waiting for some of our group to catch back up I started chatting to these ladies, they couldn’t believe that we were riding our bikes all the way from Joburg to Kozi Bay and were most excited to take a photo. 

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We stopped at a couple of Spaza shops to buy drinks in the Zululand region.

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The wolfpack.

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Finished in Kozi Bay with some hard earned beers.