Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dairy: Garmin G-Tribe Event & Campus2Campus Classic @GarminSA

My weekend started off with the Garmin G-Tribe event on Saturday the 27th of September. It was the 2nd event in the G-Tribe series and was held at Rietvlei Zoo, a family friendly activity park in Alberton.

The goal of the Garmin G-Tribe series is to introduce ladies to different sport activities and to create an environment in which they feel comfortable to practise their chosen discipline.

The venue was chosen as it catered for all the various activities Garmin had on offer for the day. These activities included mountain biking, golf, running, adventure bootcamp and cross training, with each activity being managed by Garmin’s Brand Ambassadors.

This meant I led the mountain biking section and presented a skills clinic in the morning followed by a 20km race at noon. This sequence worked out very well as ladies got to learn and practise skills in the morning and apply what they had learned in the afternoon’s race.

I had a great bunch of ladies joining me and their company along with Rietvlei’s splendid trails made for a wonderful day out. I hope to see all of you again at the next G-Tribe event!

It is great to see the series flourish in such a short time. At the first event I had 10 girls joining me for the mountain biking and at the 2nd event the aim was to double the numbers. As we got closer to the event date, each activity had to be capped to 25 girls. This bodes well for the future of the G-Tribe series.

A big thanks to Garmin for making a difference in ladies sport and to everyone at Garmin who works tirelessly behind the scenes to put on a great day for us to enjoy!

Campus2Campus Supper Classic

On Sunday morning my alarm went off at 3:30am as I had to make my way to the 7am start of the Campus2Campus Super Classic road race in Potchefstroom.

At first I had no racing scheduled for the weekend as all my attention was on the Garmin G-Tribe event. When my father asked me to come and join him at the race, it meant a quick change of plans. He competes in the master’s category and at most road races, this one included, the masters and ladies start together. This is done to make the racing more positive and although we compete against each other, our results are taken per category.

A day out racing alongside my dad reminded me of my teenage years when the two of us travelled ‘the world’ (when you’re young your country feels like the whole world) together to compete at road races, so I couldn’t let this opportunity slip by. The idea was to use this race as preparation for Mankele 3 Towers taking place this coming weekend while also spending time with my father.

The 10th edition of the Campus2Campus welcomed a new route to the event. The 107km distance took us on an out and back course from Potchefstroom to Parys. I know the road quite well as I used to spend a lot of training hours on it whilst studying at Potchefstroom and it definitely counts in ones favour to know a race route.  What I didn’t count on was the howling wind that would terrorise us throughout the day’s racing.

The ladies and masters were as aggressive as the wind and by the time we reached the turn-around point we were only about 15 riders left in the front group. This select group included me, 3 girls from the Bestmed-ASG Team and some Masters.

The way back to Potchefstroom proved to be the hardest part of the race as we had to fight a strong side wind. The blustery weather had us all lined out in one long line right on the edge of the road. In road cycling terms we call this ‘riding in the gutter’. How it works is, if there is a strong side wind you go to the front of the group and ride on the edge of the road. This prevents other riders from gaining an advantage by sitting in your slipstream and is a tactic applied to split up the field.

With 45km remaining Joe Visser made use of his cycling knowledge and strength, attacking on a long uphill drag. Joe continued pushing hard on the pedals until he reached the summit of the hill.  With no one being able to hide from the wind it instantly reduced the lead bunch to only 3 riders, consisting of Joe Visser, Charles Nienaber and myself.

The three of us worked together, taking turns to set the pace but Joe and Charles were without a doubt the main horsepower of the group. It was a great feeling to be in a break with two stalwarts of the sport and to contribute to their escape. As they shared the workload, they decided to cross the finish line together showing great sportsmanship on the day.

Getting into the break with Joe and Charles meant I secured the Ladies victory on the day. I was quite overwhelmed by the result as I didn’t expect to have good legs on the day, never mind winning the event. As luck would have it I managed to keep the Campus2Campus title in the family, taking over from my younger sister who won the event last year whilst riding for the Toyota Cycle Lab Team.

Juanita Venter who was recently crowned the World Time Trail Champion in her age group finished in 2nd place with her BestMed-ASG teammate Carla Oberholzer rounding out the podium in 3rd.

It’s been a remarkable weekend spending time with my Garmin Team, the G-Tribe members and my dad. To finish the weekend off with a victory at Campus2Campus was truly the icing on the cake.

Garmin G-Tribe

Race Dairy: The Believe Mountain Bike Race, @GarminSA

The 4th edition of the BELIEVE Mountain Bike Race took place at Northern Farms situated on the Western outskirts of Johannesburg.

The event formed part of the Bainbridge BELIEVE Project – a non-profit program which aims to fight cancer through the use of bicycles. In keeping with this, all proceeds from the event was donated to the CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Not only did I get to line up for an exceptional event, but my pre-race routine was also quite extraordinary. As I left my house en route to the race, Drug Free Sport personnel were the first people to greet me. They went about their work very professionally and 40minutes later I was finally making my way to the race venue after giving a blood – and urine sample.

I’ve been tested several times this year but it was the first time that the testing protocol could see me miss the start of an event. Needless to say my heart was still racing as I lined up with only 3 minutes to spare for the 8 am start.

The ladies and men started together for the 55 kilometre race which included a total of only 669m of climbing. The course consisted mainly of fun single tracks laid out on a variety of challenging surfaces.

The constantly changing terrain made the route very exciting. As soon as you got comfortable handling your bike on a specific surface, you got introduced to a new one and before you knew it, you crossed the finish line. Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

Although 55km might sound short, snaking single track takes more time to navigate than fast, open district roads and I completed the route in a time of 2 hours and 56min despite it feeling much quicker.

It’s always rewarding to win an event but somehow this win seemed to be about a much bigger cause. I’m very proud to be the holder of the Bainbridge BELIEVE floating trophy for at least one year. I’ll definitely be back next year to defend the title and share the trails with the CHOC Cows.

Thanks to Marc Bainbridge and his Believe Foundation team for inviting me to this meaningful event and for making a real difference to people’s lives.

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Crater Cruise, 13 September 2014

The eighth and final event in the MTN National MTB Series took riders to the popular weekend traveller’s destination of Parys. This peaceful little town is situated on the banks of the beautiful Vaal River in the Free State province.

Crater Cruise has always been quite a special event for me as the race includes a bit of history.  A very, very long time ago a meteorite hit the earth just outside of Parys and created an enormous impact crater. The original crater has eroded, but the inner circle is still visible in the surrounding hills just outside of Parys. As participants, we are very fortunate to cruise through the crater annually during the aptly named Crater Cruise event.

This year the event had two new distances on offer. The 80km marathon- and the 115km ultra marathon event.

Despite this usual distance differential being the blueprint of the MTN events, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed when the new routes were unveiled. The charm of Crater Cruise has always been that everyone (elite men & ladies) completed an identical 106km route through some of the area of the impact crater.

I guess things can’t always stay the same and in the end the new 80km route which included a total of 660m of climbing proved to be a positive modification.

The race started and finished at the Anatomic Clothing factory in town and the ladies field was set off at 8:15am to cover the new 80km route. The majority of the course was laid out on corrugated district roads broken up by some jeep track, the short and steep rocky climb of ‘new’ Suikerbossie, the Sorrie-berg climb and Baskop Farm’s fun single track on the banks of the Vaal River.

Theresa Ralph made her intentions clear from the word go and set a furious pace on the first section of jeep track which led us to the Venterskroon gravel road. Barely 22km into the race and we were only 5 ladies left at the front – Theresa Ralph, Candice Neethling, Vanessa Bell, Lise Olivier and myself.

We took turns to keep the speed up and after sprinting for the Queen of the Mountain spot prize at kilometre 30 it was only Candice, Theresa and me in the lead. We shared the workload under a scorching sun as temperatures climbed into the 40 degrees Celsius. Around 50km in, I had finished my 2 bottles and could only hope that Candice and Theresa were in the same boat forcing them to also stop at the 60km water-point.

When we finally reached the refreshment table it was only Candice and myself who stopped for water. I decided to fill up my bottle and was the last to get going.

Theresa was now out in front on her own, Candice in the middle and myself a couple of seconds back in 3rd. Theresa is a strong rider, especially on flat terrain and with the following section being a 10km flat district road I knew I had to get back to her if I still wanted to compete for 1st place. My short 3 km all out-effort saw me passing Candice and making contact with Theresa on my own. The two of us worked together until we entered the final 10km grassy jeep track section of Koedoeslaagte which would take us back to the finish. Just as we made our way onto Koedoeslaagte my body didn’t want to go anymore and Theresa slowly started riding away from me.

The final kilometres hurt a LOT but was quickly forgotten when I crossed the finish line in 2nd place behind Theresa Ralph who took a deserving victory on the day. Candice Neethling rounded out the podium in 3rd spot.

I couldn’t have asked to end the 2014 MTN series on a better note. As a bonus I also secured 3rd place overall in the MTN National MTB series behind Ariane Kleinhans and Robyn de Groot who finished in 1st and 2nd places respectively.

Thanks to the Advendurance and Ride Magazine Team for putting together a great event on Parys’s own Champs Èlyseés.

With Crater Cruise being the last event in the 2014 MTN National MTB series, I want to thank the Advendurance Team for hosting the country’s biggest mountain bike series. The series creates a wonderful opportunity for the countries best mountain bikers to measure up against each other at venues all across South Africa.

May the series only grow from strength to strength.

Final ladies results

1st           Theresa Ralph

2nd          Yolandi du Toit

3rd           Candice Neethling

4th           Vanessa Bell

5th           Lise Olivier

Crater Cruise

Garmin G-Tribe Ladies Event, 27 September 2014

Sandy Lane Golf Club saw the running of the first event in the G-tribe series and after a very successful beginning, the series is set to continue with the next event taking place on the 27th of September 2014.

The family friendly Rietvlei Zoo Farm will host the 2nd leg in the series. It is situated in the heart of Alberton, Gauteng and with this central setting we look forward to welcoming even more ladies to the G-Tribe.

The Ladies Day will follow the same blueprint as the previous event, but with a slightly different structure. As the main goal is to encourage woman to become more active and enthusiastically participate in various sports, the day will be split into two activity sessions.

The morning session will be a light warm up activity aimed to introduce beginners to a new sport and to teach ladies some valuable skills in their chosen discipline.

In the afternoon session ladies will get to select a sport they feel most comfortable with, competing against each other with the winner taking home a Garmin device.

Ladies can choose between mountain biking, golf, running, adventure bootcamp for woman and cross training. The different sessions will be presented by a Garmin Pro Ambassador, sharing their key tips and techniques for each discipline.

I’ll be heading up the mountain bike side of things and will run a skills clinic for beginners in the morning, followed by a 20km race in the afternoon.

To join us on the day, all you need to do is register at www.garmin.co.za/gtribe – no cost involved! For the ladies that don’t own a mountain bike, there will be 10 rental bikes available from the bike shop at Rietvlei zoo farm.

I hope to see you there!

Reitvlei-Zoo-Farm-Invite

York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally

The Forestry products enterprise of York Timbers presented the second York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally in and around the gorgeous little Lowveld town of Sabie, from the 4-7 September 2014.

The event introduces a completely new concept, as it offers a dual eliminator race, a cross country race, two Enduro stages and a half marathon event. More distinctively, it also creates a platform for professional riders and cycling enthusiast to interact more closely. 24 Corporate teams participated, each of them consisting of 4 corporate riders and one professional rider to act as an escort during the event.

On day one the pro’s got to race each other on a 3.4km downhill course. With the exception of two big ‘drops’, the course was very rideable and a lot of fun. Amy McDougall (Valencia Cycles) set the fastest ladies time to take first place ahead of me with Theresa Ralph in 3rd.

While we were having fun on the downhill course, the corporate team’s got to race each other on a newly built cross country course at Engelhard Park in Sabie. Their times would be used to seed them for the start of the Enduro stages.

All participants stayed at the luxurious Floreat lodge, which was a welcome change from the tented accommodation we’re used to at MTB stage events. In addition to warm beds we had exceptional entertainment every night in the form of Jackie Louw, the Blues Brothers and John Delinger.

On the morning of day two it was time for us to join our corporate teams for the 40km Enduro event. As an Enduro, only certain sections are timed and count towards the team’s result. I got assigned to team TF Design and their company made the time spent on the bike very entertaining.

That afternoon there was an optional 10km event for those that still had energy left to race. To make the event more attractive, riders got to compete in 5 different weight categories giving everyone a fair chance to win a pair of Rudy Project sunglasses.

On day three we began with a 35km Enduro event in the morning, followed by a dual eliminator race in the afternoon for those that chose to do it. The 350 meter long eliminator track consisted of one very intimidating gap jump and a couple of neat berms. Amy MacDougall showed off her bike handling skills to take 1st place while former Olympian Erica Green had an impressive run finishing in 2nd place just ahead of me.

The final day started with a 40km half marathon event in the morning. The race was also open to the public, giving them an opportunity to experience some of scenic routes we’d been fortunate to ride during the York event. Shortly after the half marathon the weekend concluded with a thrilling cross country (XC) race for the pro’s. The XC route was very exciting as it consisted of a log garden, tight uphill turns, wooden steps, fun berms and a gap jump to name just a few obstacles we had to navigate.

The taste of blood in my throat after completing the race was well worth it as I crossed the line in first place. Theresa Ralph finished in 2nd place while Amy MacDougall rounded out the podium in 3rd.

The event isn’t all about racing hard or just having fun, but also about uplifting the town and community of Sabie. York is involved with several community projects and money raised through the event is used to partly finance these programs.

I am proud to be part of this event and would love to be back next year.

York Enduro

Nissan TrailSeeker #3, Curro-Hazeldean

The cold front that made its way across central Gauteng this past weekend arrived just in time for the 3rd leg of the Nissan Trailseeker series. True to its name, it is a winter series and the weather wasn’t going to let us have it any other way.

The Nissan TrailSeeker series consists out of 5 events all held in the province of Gauteng and this particular event took place at the Curro College in the East of Pretoria.

Due to other race commitments, I missed out on the first two races in the series and for this reason I was excited and nervous to line up for my first TrailSeeker event this year. I tend to get a bit nervous for these races as the flat and fast courses don’t always suit my riding style, but at least you’ll always be guaranteed of a good route and tough competition.

The 70km marathon included a total of 690 m of climbing and  consisted mainly of open district routes with a couple of single track sections thrown in here and there to spice things up. The Advendurance Team goes to great lengths to find and build trails for their events and at this race they’ve built a new 1,3km single track climb over one of Pretoria’s many koppies. After riding this much publicized section, I understood what the hype was all about as it turned out to be my favourite section in the race.

The ladies field had their own start and was set off 5 min after the elite men at 7:35am sharp. The first couple of kilometres took us out on some flowing jeep track. Barely 10km into the race Vanessa Bell (Bell’s Cycling) was taken out by a tree branch.  She fell quite hard but bravely picked herself up and continued racing. Her crash saw three girls (Robyn de Groot, Lise Olivier and Adrienne Moolman) left out in front while the rest of us, who were caught behind the crash, had some chasing to do. I made contact with the 3 leaders just before we turned onto a piece of single track and on exiting this section we were only 3 girls left at the front of the race. With 55km remaining, the lead trio now consisted out of Robyn, Lise and myself.

Around kilometre 20 we rode up to 3 guys that had been dropped in the elite race and we all struggled to get past them on a narrow single track section. Robyn was the first to make her way around them and by the time I came around, Robyn had opened a small gap. Lise and I tried to close Robyn down and on a slight drag leading us to the famous 1,3km climb I managed to drop Lise but still couldn’t close the gap to Robyn.

From there on it was a lonely ride for all three of us to the finish line, with only the wind keeping us company as we chased each other in individual time trial mode.

Robyn de Groot pried open a solid lead showing that she was the deserving winner on the day. I finished in 2nd place and Lise Oliver in 3rd place.  Vanessa Bell put in a courageous ride to finish in a well-deserving 4th place after her early tumble.

Thanks to Nissan Trailseeker for putting on great events in the middle of Gauteng and also bettering the routes year after year. I look forward to racing over more Pretoria koppies in the future 🙂

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