Monthly Archives: March 2016

My race report of the @CapeEpic. @GarminSA @Merida_SA

Lately I’ve been trekking from one event to the next only to find myself back where it all started after more than 4 weeks on the road. As I sit here, I feel fortunate to be able to reflect on the good memories made along the way.

My journey started with the Garden Route 300 in Knysna, then it was onwards to Cape Town for the Cape Town Cycle Tour the following weekend and finally I lined up for the Absa Cape Epic.

This opportunity came about towards the end of last year when Theresa Ralph asked me if I would team up with her for the Epic and race as Team Galileo Risk (Theresa’s sponsor). With the blessing of my sponsor (Garmin) I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and so the preparation started for the 13th edition of the Absa Cape Epic.10399932_10154617747919018_4087019982905898981_n

The 8-day stage race started with a 26km prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville on the 13th of March. The following 7 stages took riders to Tulbagh, Wellington, Boschendal and back to Meerendal Wine Estate for the Grand Finale.

The 652km route might have been the shortest in history, but it included more single-trails (110km) and climbing (15 100m) than ever before. This made for a very challenging Epic as single trails and ascents often take longer to navigate than open, flat gravel roads. Luckily both Theresa and I enjoy climbing which was a step in the right direction.

The Tankwa Trek 3 day stage race marked our first outing together as a team. The event took place a month before the Epic and here we managed to find our groove.  This allowed us to go into the Epic and simply apply what we’d figured out works best for us as a team.

From the start Theresa and I were on the same page and we rode consistently throughout the Epic. We understood each other, respected each other and had a very positive influence on one another. This along with the unbelievable support we received from our backup crew (Gear Group) and mechanical crew (Cutting Edge and Dunkeld Cycles) all contributed to our performance and enjoyment of the event.

During a week-long stage race where you spend so many hours on your bike under extreme pressure and in all conditions, you are extremely lucky if all goes to plan. Even though we had our moments to keep us on our toes, we were fortunate not to have any major hassles. On stage 1 I cut my tire’s sidewall a mere 9km into the stage leaving us with a daylong chase and on stage 4 Theresa’s front shock collapsed requiring a quick stop at the tech zone to fix it. On stage 6 we both came down on “the slippery bridge” of the day. The previous night’s rain left the bridge rather wet and it only took a couple of the front rider’s muddy tyre tracks to turn the bridge into an ice sheet. The fact that the bridge was built at an angle and placed just before a tight left hand turn didn’t help and left me, Theresa and the two guys behind us skiing sideways across it. It was actually a relief to hear that the 4 of us weren’t the only riders whose ice-skating ability weren’t up to scratch.

Fun and games aside, the unfortunate crash left Theresa with a broken spoke and me with a painful knee which would luckily only affect me on the final day.

The last stage turned out to be the hardest battle of all. A stomach bug kept Theresa awake the entire night and left her with a drained body to fight the final 85km to Meerendal. I wasn’t of much help either as I struggled to push hard on the pedal with my injured knee. We soldiered on regardless and were very relieved to finally cross the finish line.

We lost a lot of 1919611_10208810585520026_986156623998756963_ntime to our competitors that day and even started to make peace with losing our 5th place overall. Fortunately the hard fought battle wasn’t all in vain and we managed keep our overall general classification placing despite our troubles.

The harder you fight for something to more you appreciate it and man were we happy to officially finish in 5th place overall at the Absa Cape Epic. We were also the first African ladies team home and both Theresa and I are looking forward to seeing the African Ladies leaders jersey’s added to the rest of the Epic race categories in 2016.

 

My race report of the Cape Town Cycle Tour. @CTCycleTour @GarminSA

From one harbour town to the next. After completing the Garden Route 300 in Knysna my journey continued westwards to Cape Town where I participated at the Cape Town Cycle Tour a mere week later.

This event needs no introduction as it’s the biggest timed event in the world.  Now in its 39th year the event boasts over 35 000 participants which will surely be much more if race organisers weren’t forced to cap numbers due to the unpracticality of accommodating so many people at a one day event.3

The scenic 109km route takes cyclists from the city centre, down the M3 through to Muizenberg and as far south as Smitswinkel. From there the course heads north again, through Hout Bay and Camps Bay to the finish line in Green Point.

The ladies race is always a hotly debated topic at the CT Cycle Tour as everyone involved tries to find a happy medium to make the woman’s event positive and safe. In previous years the ladies raced alongside either the A or B starting groups but that triggered some nasty crashes and unfair racing due to the influence of the big bunches.

This year the organisers tried to arrange a separate race for the ladies but unfortunately the ladies were soon back to racing with the B-batch (250 riders per starting batch) as the gap in start times between the 2 groups was too small. By the time our group hit Muizenberg the C-batch also caught up to us AND we had caught some tandems. This made for some hair raising moments as 500 (fun) riders fought for a front row seat on a narrow coastal road!

On the Chapman’s Peak climb I drifted too far back in the pack and by the time I reached the summit it was disappointing to see our once big group was now splintered into pieces. On the next climb (Suikerbossie) I kept a steady pace managing to ride myself back into the 2nd group where I stayed until crossing the finish line in 11th spot.

The Cape T1own Cycle Tour has always been a strange event to race especially with so many different categories in the mix.  It might be a good idea to have the elite Men and Ladies race the day before the main ride or set the ladies off much earlier on race day. The M3 is lit up at night and to see the sun rising as we make our way to Muizenberg will be quite special.

Of course the best part of the day was meeting up with my dad and fellow Team Garmin crew to soak up the atmosphere of the event.

For now I’ll be packing away the skinny tires and taking out the big wheels as we head into the Absa Cape Epic starting this coming Sunday.

 

 

My race report of the @gardenroute300. @GarminSA @Merida_SA

When I left home for the Garden Route 300 it wasn’t only for one race but for a month long road trip which will include the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic by the time I am done.6

My first stop was the harbour town of Knysna which hosts the Garden Route 300. This year’s edition of the race saw a different format as only solo entries were allowed and stages were shortened to accommodate those who would go on to compete at the Cape Epic just 2 weeks later.

Stages one and three started and finished at Quay 4 restaurant on Thesen Island while stage 2 was held from the Garden Route Trail Park situated between Knysna and Sedgefield.

I had a very consistent race placing 3rd on every stage to secure my 3rd spot on the overall podium by the time all was said and done. Robyn de Groot won the ladies category with Catherine Williamson in 2nd place, both of their daily placings matching their overall results.

The Garden Route in the Western Cape is a beautiful part of South Africa. Every year at this event I’m thankful to Garden Route Events for organising a mountain bike stage race through the pristine Knynsa Forest. The race route with its 4560 m of climbing was by no means an easy feat but battling it out in beautiful surrounds made the physical challenge a lot more bearable.

Currently I am travelling down to Cape Town for the CT Cycle Tour. As Garmin is the technical sponsor of the event I’m sure it will be a busy week but more of that later…..

 

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