Monthly Archives: September 2015

My report of the @DrEvilClassic, @karootocoast and @YorkAdventure. @GarminSA

The Pennypinchers Dr. Evil Classic 3 day mountain bike stage race;

September proved to be a bit busier than expected, but being busy is apparently a good thing as it keeps you out of mischiefJ. It also causes an administrative backlog and seeing as I spent the last couple of weeks either travelling to, or competing at events, finding time to update everyone has been a challenge. Here is a quick recap of what I’ve been up to recently.

After completing the Crater Cruise in Parys (Free State) it was time for a road trip to the Western Cape for the Dr. Evil stage race and the Karoo2Coast Classic.

Garmin and its service partner Navworld have a long standing and strong business relationship and as such it only made sense for me to strengthen this relationship on a sporting front by partnering with Alan Gordon who is sponsored by Navworld.

The Dr.Evil Classic is a 3 day race staged out of the picturesque Plettenberg Bay. Unfortunately the Garden Route weather didn’t play along this year but Dr. Evil (aka Leon Evans) proved again why he is such a well-known course designer by having a B-route option available in case of wet conditions.  Despite the muddy and wet terrain I still enjoyed the stage routes and racing alongside Alan was only a pleasure. He is a very considerate teammate on and off the bike which is a critical factor at a stage race event. He always made sure I was comfortable with the pace he was setting and looked after my bike as if it was his own.

When you team up with someone for the first time you never know what to expect but our partnership turned out to be very successful as we won all three stages and also the overall title in the mixed category.

The Dr. Evil Classic is a very well organised event with challenging, fun and scenic routes. I don’t often race in the Western Cape due to the proximity but after my experience of the event and the riding terrain, I hope to be back next year!

Pennypinchers Karoo2Coast Classic;

The day following the Dr.Evil Classic Alan and I lined up for the Karoo2Coast Classic but this time around we competed individually in the men’s and ladies categories.

The race started in the streets of Uniondale and finished at Knysna High school via Prince Alfred’s Pass.  My legs weren’t as fresh as they normally would be for a one day classic, but it was to be expected considering they had just completed a muddy 3 day stage race. Still, I was very excited to attempt my first Karoo2Coast Classic.

It took me just under 3hours and 40 minutes to complete the 100km distance and I was very happy to attain 2nd place overall behind Robyn de Groot. Nadia Visser rounded out the podium in 3rd place.

My Dr. Evil partner Alan Gordon also had a great ride to finish in 3rd place thus making it a very successful week of racing for Team(s) Garmin (and) Navworld.

York Enduro Mountain Bike Rally

With only 3 days between crossing the finish line in Knysna and starting the York Timbers Enduro in sleepy Sabie, our road trip went into super mode as we still had to pass by my house to see if it was still standing!

The York Timbers Enduro Rally has a completely different format to any other mountain bike event on the calendar. The main focus is not on racing or participating per say, but rather building business relationships and cross pollination between athletes and corporates in a relaxed environment.

Corporates enter teams of 4 riders, usually consisting out of company staff and/or clients. The event organisers then invite the same number of professional athletes as teams entered into the event and allocate a pro rider to each corporate team following a silent auction. The corporate teams then compete against each other alongside their pro rider in various races over 4 consecutive days.  The races include a 35km half marathon, enduro stages, a downhill race, a dual slalom event, cross country and a swimming event just for fun.

On the final day the professionals get to race each other in a cross country race and I was happy to still have some energy left, finishing 2nd to Candice Neethling with Theresa Ralph in 3rd place.

I really enjoy the York Enduro MTB rally as it has plenty on offer for all participants. We get to meet and socialize with fellow mountain bike enthusiasts and our contemporaries which we normally never get to do at stage races. A big thanks to York Timbers for organising such a unique event and may it only grow from strength to strength in the future.

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 My race report of the Anatomic Crater Cruise MTB Festival @GarminSA

Over the past weekend the vibrant little Free State town of Parys welcomed cyclist​s​from all quarters of the country for the annual Crater Cruise MTB Festival. ​The unique setting of the event is surely a feature which attracts competitors every year. Not only does the town form part of a World Heritage site,​but it also offers various outdoor​activities in and around town.​ Coffee-, artist- and antique shops ​ensure the whole family is entertained​ while the racers do their thing.

​The Crater Cruise event has always been a firm ​favourite on my cycling calendar. I enjoy the racing conditions and being born & raised in the Free State means I get to spen​d​ time with my family and cycling friends who also come to participate at the event. ​This means​I’m sure to have a good tim​e ​no matter what the result at the end​ of the race!

​To keep the event exciting the organisers made slight route and format changes to the 2015 edition. The 80 km distance was the main event instead of the 115 km distance as in previous years and both men and woman were set off together on the Sunday.

The Crater Cruise is very well known for the demanding,​ corrugated​, ​district roads and ​combined​ with the fast pace the elite men were setting​, it ​turned the battle into an elimination race of sort​s​. ​All said and done,​I ended up in the 2nd group out on track along with 7 other ​​riders as we flew around the course in a time of 2h 57 min.

I was very happy to cross the finish line of a ‘home ground’ race in first place. Amy MacD​ougall finished in 2nd place with Maricel Bekker rounding out the podium in 3rd place.

The Crater Cruise offers something completely different to other mountain bike courses due to the exposed and​ corrugated gravel roads, fast racing and ​the ​application of some road tactics. It’s great to have an MTB race that adds some spice to our racing calendar.

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My race report of the Isuzu @PEPlett @GarminSA

The Isuzu Trucks PE PLETT is a 4-day mountain bike stage race from the beautiful shores of Port Elizabeth to Plettenberg Bay which falls in the Garden Route. The race started at Wedgewood Country Estate just outside of Port Elizabeth and along the way we camped at Gamtoos Ferry, Soloko Village and finally at Tsitsikama Falls Village before finishing at Forever Resort in Plettenberg Bay.

For the 3rd edition of the event I partnered with good friend and PE local Anriette Schoeman. We teamed up for the first time at last years’ Wine2Whales stage race and after an enjoyable and successful initial partnership, I was really looking forward to racing by her side again.

Port Elizabeth is best known for hosting IronMan South Africa and it was silly of me to think I would visit PE without a swim or run somewhere along the line J. In the week prior to the start of the event the area received continues rain and this made conditions for organisers and participants quite challenging during the race.

Riders had to deal with a wet and muddy course every day. To put things into perspective – If you ‘only’ had to replace your bike’s brake pads after the stage, it was considered a good day out for you and your bike. Still, we riders had it easy as all of us made it to the finish line (eventually) while the event’s transport vehicles got stuck in mud so deep they never made it to some race villages.

The weather conditions certainly made the racing extra tough and at times it was more a mental battle than a physical one, but we tried to keep the team spirit high at all times. Not a day passed where Anriette and I didn’t have a laugh together – even if it meant laughing at ourselves.  For example my “Mini Me”, aka Anriette, had to swim several times through the river crossings while I was tall enough to wade through. She didn’t know it, but I was laughing during the race and Anriette understandably afterwardsJ.

In the challenging circumstances we paid extra attention to team work and it truly contributed to our successful run at the event. Our trusty steeds (Merida Big Nine Team Full suspension bikes) were bulletproof and another reason for our success as we never had technical issues despite all the mud.

We prevailed in all 4 stages and with that also took the overall victory in the ladies category. Sanet Small and Dalene Van Der Leek (Sasol Racing ) finished in 2nd place with Sarah van Heerden & Cindy Theunissen (Valley Girls )rounding out the podium in 3rd place.

Despite the muddy conditions I really enjoyed the race route and can just imagine how incredible it must be to have a dry run at the event. Along with the enjoyable atmosphere that the organisers of Red Cherry Adventures created at the race villages, it made for a truly memorable event.

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My race report of the Nkomazi MTB Challenge @GarminSA @Merida_SA

I’ve been very fortunate to spend the last 2 weeks at The Mankele MTB Park situated just outside of Nelspruit.  This mountain bike park offers a variety of fun trails and the surrounding roads are safe to train on which makes it ideal. I was truly spoiled with the variety of training options available and as a bonus I always found myself in good company on the bike.

As luck would have it, I also had the opportunity to do a local race while in the Lowveld. The Nkomazi MTB challenge was hosted by Laerskool Malelane and with an attractive prize purse the event was sure to attract a strong field to the start line.

Without a map or race profile I didn’t know what to expect from the 65km course created in the Nkomazi Valley. The only information I did have was what I learned from the heated debate surrounding the ‘Downhill run’ feature of the race. This downhill is so fearsome that some locals opted to rather take part in the 35km event which excluded this technical section and others to skip the race entirely. Needless to say I was apprehensive about the course even before leaving the start line.

Whilst standing on the start line there were still questions being raised about whether or not this downhill run was included or excluded from the 65km event. In truth, it was quite liberating to finally leave the start line and just focus on the racing side of things.

I was very pleased to lead the race from the start but at kilometre 18 I took a wrong turn while following the other competitors. After a brief stop and discussion we retraced our tire tracks and got back on course not quite knowing who had passed us or not. A few kilometres later we ascended a brutally steep 2km climb only to turn and go back down the same hill, BUT via the infamous ‘downhill run’. Surprise! It was still incorporated into the 65km course.

As the saying goes: ’Discretion is the better part of valour’, so I opted to run down most of the 2km ‘Downhill run’ instead of risking injury or death (as the warning stickers always say!). As I carefully made my way down the trail, my fear turned into frustration as Amy McDougall came riding/sliding past me with her bum almost touching her rear wheel as she got her weight back on the bike for the steep descent – very impressive!  Amy has exceptional biking handling skills and those that know her will confirm that technical trails are very scared of Amy J

With plenty of technical riding all the way to the line Amy’s superb bike handling skills netted her a deserving win on the day while I had to settle for 2nd place. Kirsten Gillespie rounded out the podium in 3rd place.

I really enjoyed the pleasant atmosphere of the event and I think the race has a lot of potential for growth. Beforehand the ‘Downhill run’ was a highly contentious topic and after experiencing it myself, I think it is a bit too extreme for a marathon event. I would love to be back next year but that all depends on that downhill trail… 🙂

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