Monthly Archives: June 2017

Read the #TeamGarminMTB report on @kalchalmtb here:

The Kalahari Challenge is Botswana’s premier mountain bike stage race, taking place just outside the capitol Gaborone. One would think the mostly flat and geographically featureless landscape would make for lacklustre riding, but an active mountain bike community and some very accommodating cattle delivered surprisingly fun biking for the 3rd leg of our #AfricanMTBSeries!

The race start in the shade of a rollercoaster at the Lion Park just South of Gaborone was a premonition of sorts and symbolic of what we were about to face over the next 3 days of racing.

Case in point – the warm hospitality from our luxurious pre race accommodation at the Avani hotel was in stark contrast to the frosty start of each day almost as much as the rugged and unforgiving terrain was dissimilar to the comfy, blanket stacked beds in our roomy campsite tents.

According to the race book 235km lie in wait for us with ‘a mere’ 2000m of elevation gain over the 3 days of racing. What wasn’t published (but was forewarned) was that there would be plenty of Botswana hills, i.e. deep sandy patches, and a bunch of thorns acting as traffic police making sure we kept our speed in check.

A big challenge was navigating while racing but we soon found the balance between following the map on our Garmin EDGE 1000, the neon green stickers which marked the course and the slight difference between the two. Every now and then one could use initiative to avoid deep sand or thorns but you had to keep your wits about you to stay on track which added an interesting dimension to the event.

Day’s 1 and 3 had loads of manmade and natural singletrack which saw plenty of kilometres fly by, but day 2 was a challenge which had everyone thankful to finish the stage despite some striking landscapes along the way. We were determined to continue our recent run of good form and after 3 days of tough racing we took home the title in the Mixed Category along with a 6th place overall.

For now our #AfricanMTBSeries is on hold until the Rift Valley Odyssey in September, but that doesn’t mean we stop racing our bikes. Winter means there are slightly less events and we’ll use the time to pause, reboot and ensure we tackle the second half of the season with renewed vigour.

#TeamGarminMTB reports on their 2nd event in the #AfricanMTBSeries, @1ZambiaMTB. @GarminSA

About 90 brave souls started the 4th edition of the 1Zambia last week Friday, setting off on a true African adventure. The event was hosted at Lilayi Lodge just outside Lusaka, spending 2 days at the stunning venue before the final stage took riders to Kiambi Lodge on the banks of the mighty Zambesi River.

This event was the 2nd in our Team Garmin #AfricanMTBSeries, coming a week after our exploits at the Namib Quest. With six days of racing in our legs and quite a bit of travel we were apprehensive of our form come race day, but a pre race spin around Lilayi Lodge soon pushed thoughts of racing back as we totally immersed ourselves in Bushveld camping life amongst the Giraffe, Eland, Waterbuck and other wildlife that roamed the game park.

Reality struck soon enough as people filtered into the race village on Thursday to complete registration and race briefing made it clear we were in for a challenge. Two stages of 70km dropping down the adjacent escarpment and back up followed by a final monster 108km transition stage down to Lower Zambesi would have to be self navigated in order to conquer the 1Zambia.

The terrain was exactly as we had pictured Africa with animal and man-made trails criss-crossing some harsh but beautiful lush savannah, expertly connected by race director Owen Green. Where no trails were available, singletrack was hand cut and built to make sure riders had the best experience possible getting from A to B.

With a trail network spread out like the Okavango delta, it was inevitable to take the incorrect option here and there, especially while trying to go at race speed, but each time our Garmin Edge 1000 devices had us back on track in no time. We raced as smart as we could often backing off the pace in order to focus on navigation and helping each other to negotiate the tough terrain while keeping track of the course. This netted us 3 stage wins and the overall title in the Mixed category, and a whole lot of fun along the way!

In between stages our tented camp overlooking a waterhole made for some of the best ever post stage recovery afternoons punctuated by some proper catering to fuel our fun.

The scenery, extensive trails and African experience at the event were all highlights which would bring any mountain biker back, but the most significant feature of the event was the organizers commitment to their undertaking. Owen, Ilke and their team of committed volunteers left no stone unturned to make everyone feel welcome and get the most from their participation at the event. That alone is enough reason to put the 1 Zambia on your Bike-it list.