Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Clover Lowveld Tour, 6-10 August 2014

Graskop is a small forestry town perched on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment. Besides forestry, it also attracts tourists to share in a few scenic wonders such as Gods Window, the Blyderivier Canyon and several picturesque waterfalls. This time around the main attraction was bicycles as riders showed up to participate in the 5th edition of the Clover Lowveld Tour.

The tour is one of the few remaining major road stage races in SA and welcomes all age categories, and genders to take part in the event. The elite men competed in a 5 day tour while the rest of us had 4 consecutive days of racing to look forward to.

Stage 1- 27km time trail with 246m of climbing (Graskop – Hazyview)

The elite ladies started off with a 27km time trail from Graskop to Hazyview. With the starting point of the time trail lying at 1012m above sea level and the finishing point at 670m above sea level the route profile was only heading one way and that was gradually downhill. Although this may sound like fun, believe me it’s quite the opposite. I finished the first stage in 5th place which I was more than satisfied with considering that I was on a normal road bike instead of a time trial specific bike. Juanita Venter put in a brilliant performance to take the stage win and her victory bodes well for the World Veteran Time Trial Championships which she will contest at the end of this month.

Stage 2 – 108km and 2144m of climbing (Graskop–Hazyview-Sabie-Graskop)

Day two started in the main street of Graskop, taking us on a circular route through Hazyview and Sabie to finish back in Graskop after a tough 108km.

This stage also proved to be the ‘queen stage’ (hardest stage) of the tour and included a total of 2144m of climbing. Everything was going well for me until we reached the final climb back into Graskop. At that stage Dalene van Der Leck and I were on our own in 2nd and 3rd position in the ladies field. We had only 5km remaining when my body decided no more. I ‘blew’ so badly that it became an effort just to stay upright on my bike and I actually considered walking back to Graskop. I lost a fair amount of time and had to settle for 4th on the day. Luckily in a tour you get to fight another day, except if it’s the last stage J

Stage 3A – 7.3km Hill Climb with 493m of climbing (Kowyn’s pass)

On the Saturday we had two stages to complete and the morning stage started off with a hill climb time trail up Kowyn’s pass. By definition time trailing is always hard, but I actually enjoyed the stage. I really like the solitude of an individual time trial and it’s also one of the reasons why I enjoy mountain biking so much.

Stage 3B – 85km and 1533m of climbing (God’s Window laps)

The afternoon stage consisted out of 4 laps of the well-known God’s window viewing point loop. I went into the stage sitting in 4th place and really wanted to make up some of the time I lost on the previous day.

In mountain bike races you rarely attack as it’s more a race of attrition so I decided to replicate this, going flat out up the final climb to the God’s window’s viewpoint. I managed to split the ladies field into a leading group of four riders, but ended up paying for my efforts in the final kilometres as I got dropped 2km from the finish line. Despite having to settle for 4th place on the day, my effort wasn’t all in vain as I moved up to 3rd place in the overall standings.

Stage 4 – 96km with 1629m of climbing (Graskop – Blyderiver road – Graskop)

The final stage of this year’s tour took us out and back on the Blyderiver road. Lesson learned from the previous day I decided to race smart instead of racing with my heart (although I prefer the latterJ). This helped me to save a lot of energy to win the stage in an uphill dash to the finish line. I can’t remember when last I sprinted for a victory and I was very happy to finish the tour on such a high note.

The Clover road tour is a wonderful initiative from H&A tours to improve road cycling in South Africa. All that’s needed is for the ladies to take full advantage of this opportunity and race positively and unrestrained, and it would definitely help lift the level of the sport.

I’m glad I decided to take part in this year’s edition of the Clover Lowveld tour. As with every event or opportunity, there is always something to be learned and I hope the fitness I gained bodes well for my goal mountain bike races later in the year.

Final Results

1st                      Lise Olivier

2nd                     Dalene van der Leck

3rd                      Yolandi du Toit

4th                      Carmen Buchacher

5th                      Candice Neethling

Clover Lowveld Tour

Garmin G-Tribe Ladies Day event

This year Garmin South Africa has decided to place emphasis on ladies and their involvement in sport. The main goal is to encourage woman to become more active and enthusiastically participate in various sports. From this idea, the novelty of hosting ladies only events throughout the year was borne.

The first G-Tribe (Girl’s tribe) event was hosted this past weekend at Sandy Lane. This beautiful Golf club is situated on the banks of the Hartebeespoortdam, a mere 30 minute drive from Johannesburg. Ladies could choose from 4 different fitness activities and best of all – it didn’t cost you anything! All you had to do was register online and show up on the day.

The fitness activities were ran by Garmin’s own Brand Ambassadors and with limited entries one was sure to get personal attention. The ‘boot camp’ was headed by personal trainer, Michelle Letcher while Nedbank professional runner, Irvette van Zyl led the runners on a 5km loop where the ladies could choose to complete it once or twice depending on their level of fitness.

Professional golfer, Erna Breytenbach presented a skills clinic for the ladies eager to learn more about golf while I took the mountain biker’s out on a 10km course at Van Gaalen’s MTB Park.

On arrival the ladies first registered and received a specially designed G-Tribe shirt to welcome them as part of the G-Tribe club. After registration everyone got treated to a light lunch, which could potentially turn into heavier lunch depending on secondsJ followed by a quick welcoming from Garmin Africa’s energetic CEO Walter Mech.Garmin Ladies Gtribe Event

After the formalities ladies set off to participate in their chosen activity.

A group of ten ladies joined me for the mountain bike ride at Van Gaalen’s. With the main aim being to introduce ladies to sport I decided guide them on a flat and flowing single track section alongside the river. The trail had a few tricky sections as it included several bridge crossings and some slippery roots to navigate. It was great to see the ladies having fun, motivating each other over obstacles and celebrating every achievement no matter how big or small. At the end of the day I’m not sure who learned from who, so thanks girls – you were great!

Upon completion of the activiti
es, participants regrouped at the club house for well-deserved snacks and massages. The day concluded with prize giving and 4 lucky ladies got to take home a Garmin Vivofit fitness band.

Sandy Lane was the first of the G-Tribe series events and with the great turnout we are planning to expand the activities.  At the next event there will be morning and afternoon sessions, allowing ladies to experience different activities at one event in the company of likeminded girls.
Garmin Ladies Gtribe Event

On the mountain biking side I’ll be leading an entry level and a more advance skills clinic to accommodate riders with various levels of skill and fitness. So there is no excuse not to attend the next event.

A big thanks to the Garmin team for putting on events like this. I feel very fortunate to be part of the G-Tribe :).