Monthly Archives: August 2015

My report on the @GarminSA @G_O_T_Girls MTB Challenge

On Monday 10 August 2015, South Africans celebrated woman’s day. If you are a lady and you are reading this, then I hope you had a very special day indeed. If not and you are looking to make up for lost opportunities, make sure to join us next year for the Garmin Girls On The Go Mountain Bike Challenge. I’m convinced there will be something to make you smile, even if it is the Garmin Angels with their pom-poms who kept the ladies safe out on the trails. (For an illustration please see the picture below :))

This unique mountain bike event took place at the Ride Free Bike Park in Central Park, Modderfontein. It was hosted not only to spoil lady mountain bikers on woman’s day, but also to create an environment where ladies feel comfortable to practise the sport they love. The event offered three distances (10km, 20km and 40km) all consisting of the smooth single trails at Modderfontein Nature Reserve.

The day’s proceedings started at 7:30 am sharp with a brief but concise skills clinic/debate presented by me (luckily the girls didn’t seem to know my recent history :)). At 8:30am the ladies set off to cover their chosen race distance, before returning to various spoils and treatments from event sponsors such as Dermalogica and Sorbet to name but a few. The day concluded with prize giving at 12 o’clock and I must say, you’ll be hard pushed to find another prize giving with so many nice goodies up for grab thanks to the event sponsors.

Although the racing was only for the females, other family members were welcome to join in on the fun and could either wine-and-dine at the local café or support-and-enjoy some of the Central Park trails themselves – or both!

It was wonderful to see 350 ladies participating at the event and it truly bodes well for the future of woman’s cycling in SA. A big thanks must go to Garmin for having the vision to support and promote woman’s cycling like they do.

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My race report of the @BIKETRANSALP . @GarminSA @Merida_SA @Squirtlube_SA

The bike Transalp is one of the oldest MTB stage races on the international calendar and has served as inspiration for many of the other mountain biking events that exist today. Participation at the event means riders get the opportunity to not only take part at a unique event but also to discover some of mountain biking’s earliest roots.

Back in 2013 I completed my first Transalp alongside my good friend Aurelie Halbwachs. This year was to be a completely different experience as I teamed up with Ben Melt Swanepoel (Squirtlube) for the event in the mixed category.

In its 18th edition the event might be “old” in existence but every year the race organisers create a new route or visit different towns in order to keep the event fresh and exciting.

On the 19th of July 2015, 1200 people lined up in Rupholding’s narrow main street to tackle the 624 kilometre course which included a total of 19,286 meters in elevation. Along with the start in Ruhpolding our stops in Saalfelden, Mittersel, Sillian and Levico Terme were all new to me and the Transalp route as we made our way to the lakeside finish at Riva Del Garda on the 25th of July.

Visiting new host towns meant creating fresh routes to reach our daily destination and I must admit this year’s course caught me completely off guard. I went into the event expecting a similar experience to 2013 and only realised afterwards that you’ll never ride the same Transalp – ever! This is part of what makes the event so unique.

For 2015 the course included a lot of hiking as we made our way over several mountain ranges during the event. In total it took Melt and I 35 hours to complete the Transalp and around 7 of those hours (20%) were spent either walking or hiking with our bikes on our backs. This proved to be our biggest challenge during the event as I struggled to push and carry my bike after having dislocated my shoulder 7 weeks earlier. This left poor Melt to do most of the bike carrying and pushing work and we could only look on as our competitors came running past us. Lesson learned – if we come back to Transalp we will be ready to carry our bikes.

I am grateful to have had Melt alongside me as he was very understanding of my injury and always tried to keep the team spirit high. At first I was a bit nervous about our partnership but all said and done we made a very good team. It always felt as if we were effective in whatever challenge we had to face. Whether it was the racing or the off the bike duties such as washing clothes after every stage, making food, fixing bikes etc, we always shared the workload and things just seemed to be working as well as a squirt lubed chain J. Our teamwork netted us a 9th place overall in the mixed category which is a very good results if you take into account that it was both our first races back after injury and we competed in a very strong mixed field.

There is no denying that this year’s course was one of the toughest the Transalp has ever offered, but there was also plenty of positives to make up for the suffering. As always there was the beautiful landscape that we were so fortunate to traverse during our journey and we were blessed with pleasant weather throughout the 7 days. This is quite rare in and around the Dolomites where the weather can change from sun to snow in seconds.

It’s hard to sum up an entire stage race in one report therefore you can read more about our Transalp adventure in the upcoming edition of Mountain Bike Magazine. I hope it makes for a good read.

I am very grateful to Garmin for allowing me the opportunity to return to an event which I have so many fond memories of and I look forward to experiencing other editions of the Transalp in future – even if my cycling shoes might not agree…

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