It’s been a while since Team Garmin dabbled in some road racing but this year’s Clover Lowveld Tour fit nicely in our calendar to build some fitness while getting some exposure at the same time.
With a calendar jam-packed full of events one can’t be at one’s best for every event, but that shouldn’t stop participation! Instead it should be seen as an opportunity to compete without the usual self induced pressure and a chance to push limits and grow as an athlete.
With that mindset we teamed up with the NAD Pro MTB Team and headed to the Forever Resort at Swadini which hosted the Clover Lowveld Tour. Sharing a house with the current SA MTB Marathon Champion Nico Bell, his teammate Gawie Combrinck, their sidekick Declan Sidey and our manager,
Nohan van Tonder made for a relaxed but focussed atmosphere where racing was as important as recovery off the bike.
As there wasn’t a lady’s category, Yolandi entered the Open category pitting herself against a mixed bunch of ladies, Masters men (over 50), Under 17 boys and (racing) unlicensed men. This made for an interesting dynamic as people were racing races within races, trying to win the category as well as beat the opposition in their age group. Yolandi did not let this faze her, attacking where she felt good and pushing hard to train her weaknesses.
I lined up in the Elite men’s category where the competition was sure to come from the 2 strongest teams in SA – Team Road Cover and Team BCX. As a bunch of mountain bikers we would do what we could to help Nico for the overall classification, while looking to take any opportunities for stage results should they arise.
We faced 5 stages, the first a rolling stage of 135km followed by a 126km stage in the mountains. Day 3 was a double header with a 20km Time Trial in the morning and a criterium race in the afternoon.
The final day was a fast 126km stage on an out and back route. The open category riders faced the same challenge with the exception being shorter distances for their stages.
Yolandi punched well above her weight finishing 3rd overall and with it the first lady. The organizers gave Yolandi a pink winner’s jersey to celebrate her ‘victory’ in the lady’s category and hopefully as a sign that there will be a separate category for the ladies in the near future.
Our category was the expected back and forth between the strong teams with Team Road Cover winning 3 stages and the overall honours courtesy of Willie Smit, while Team BCX’s Nolan Hoffman won stage 1 along with the criterium.
The Nad Pro MTB Team/Garmin house delivered another podium result as Nico Bell finished 3rd overall with Gawie in 10th, me in 19th and Declan in 22nd. Although the results were encouraging it was all about getting in the hard miles and despite some rain on stage 2 we all managed to stay upright and finish the tour tired but not broken. Now for some rest and the training block will kick in, giving us a boost in fitness needed for the second half of the season.
Next up for us will be the Trans Baviaans (2) which Yolandi will ride with her dad and I will team up with my friend Raymo
nd Odendaal. Beyond the obvious adventure of traversing the Baviaanskloof in one go, it will also be a great opportunity for us to test our brand new Garmin Varia UT 800 lights.