Monthly Archives: October 2017

Race Report: The Uplands Duathlon – Team Garmin MTB’s guide on how to get sore legs!

This past weekend team Garmin MTB had no races on our calendar and we were looking forward to some quality training before the upcoming Sky2C event. Our local school had other ideas as they hosted a Duathlon event to raise funds for the school.

Despite the occasional jog/shuffle for cross training we have never professed to be runners, but somehow we found ourselves drawn to the event. It was an opportunity to do something different while still maintaining fitness and the noble cause of our local community was hard to ignore.

So it came that at 7am on Saturday morning I set off for a 4 km run, followed by a 30km mountain bike and a repeat of the 4km run. Yolandi teamed up with close friend and Uplands pupil Elne Lourens as they faced the challenge in a team with Elne doing the running and Yolandi the biking.

The two of them combined well with Yolandi even joining in on the final 4km run to complete their race as a team, crossing the finish line hand in hand. They were the first ladies team home and only narrowly got beaten into 2nd place overall on the day.

My opening run was better than expected and I had a really good bike managing to turn the duathlon into a bike race more than a running race. Notwithstanding post bike jelly legs and looming cramp, I survived the final 4km run to take an unexpected win.

Milkshakes all around was the order of the day as we celebrated and drowned our sore muscles in double thick delight!

It was a fantastic day out, especially seeing how involved the local community were with local business, parents and pupils all chipping in to make the event a success.

#TeamGarminMTB’s race report: Ashburton @NatMTBseries#7,Kaapsehoop – 7 seasons in one weekend.

Situated on the edge of the Highveld escarpment, Kaapsehoop was the venue for the final round of the National MTB Marathon Series. It was the first time the series visited the town prompting a lot of excitement about the new routes on offer.

For the second week in a row Mother Nature threw a curveball with some rain dousing the area in advance, making for a few slippery trails and tricky downhills on day 1 of the two day event.

Heavy mist turned into fine rain and back into thick mist again as we departed town for our 7:30am start. At fi

rst we stayed close to town but once we descended down the escarpment and out of the mist, the cool temperatures steadily rose making for quite pleasant racing conditions. Of course what goes down must come back up and the second half of the course was characterized by a 10km climb which gradually got steeper as it closed in on the finish.

The men were off first and Team PYGA Euro Steel were the early aggressors as team mates Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys vied for overall Series honours. Matthys proved to be the strongest taking the victory ahead of his team mate with HB Kruger (Team BCXX) in 3rd.

Melt had a steady start but a double puncture halfway through the day robbed him of some momentum. As luck would have it Melt had just given some of his spares to another rider but thankfully Alan Gordon stopped to help which meant Melt could continue. He steadily made his way up the field finally salvaging 10th place on the day.

 

In the Ladies race Candice Lill (Dormakaba) used her cross country start and skill to break away early leaving me to chase all day. I battled the slippery course as much as my competitors, trying to go fast without risking too much. Candice rode faultlessly winning the stage ahead of me and another local, Dalene van der Leek (Bell’s Cycling) taking 3rd.

Day 2 dawned sunny and warm giving the venue and the race a completely different a

tmosphere. It was the final day’s racing in this premier series and the sun was out to celebrate the occasion!

With nothing to lose Matthys Beukes tore off the line quickly stretching the field. At the halfway mark he repeated his acceleration, snapping the elastic and soloing to another victory again ahead of his team mate Buys. HB Kruger repeated his strong showing finishing in 3rd after a recent comeback from a broken collarbone.

Melt knew the day would be tougher than expected and planned to ride defensively at first, leaving something in the tank for the final 20km. Boys will be boys and by his own admission he got caught up in the racing spending his final effort a little too early.

He finished 9th on the day and 9th overall for the weekend.

I warmed up properly and decided to give it a go from the gun. Candice stuck to my wheel as I made my initial effort and the 2 of us drew away from the other ladies.

After about 5km Candice counter attacked setting up another chase scenario for stage 2. We battled on the freshly cut singletrack, hiking trails and jeep tracks which littered the route with Candice managing to stay ahead and win the day. Vanessa Bell kept Bell’s Cycling on the podium taking 3rd on the day and the three of us mirroring those positions in the overall honours for the weekend.

It was fantastic to be part of the inaugural National MTB Series race at Kaapsehoop and we look forward to the event next year when the trails are sure to be ridden in and even more fun than this year!

#TeamGarminMTB’s race report of @bergandbush – Slaying single track & drinking chocolate milk.

Late September to mid November is one of our favourite times of the year as three fantastic events straddle this part of a busy end-of-season race calendar. All these races are characterised by the commitment and passion shown by their organizers, creating events that are mightier than the sum of their parts.

First off is the Mankele 3 Towers event, followed by the Berg & Bush and finally the Cape Pioneer Trek. This year we unfortunately missed out on 3 Towers owing to The Rift Valley Odyssey – I suppose you can’t have your cake (or in this case chicken) and eat it! Due to logistics and an extensive race season, we regrettably also won’t be attending the 2017 Cape Pioneer Trek, which meant we wanted to make the most of our opportunity to race Berg & Bush.

Gary Green, better known as ‘Farmer Gary’, and his team make annual improvements to an already successful event, refining the race to deliver a very unique experience. Over 3 days riders drop off the Drakensberg Escarpment down into the Natal Bushveld on trails that seem to get better with the passing of every edition. Is it possible that Farmer Gary trains his cattle to march out a perfectly sculpted singletrack…?

In between stages rider’s camp on the banks of the mighty Tugela River, dining on food fit for a king and an endless supply of chocolate milk…to enhance recovery of course. Walk around the host village at Em’seni Camp and all you will hear is chatter about the day’s singletrack and the trails that still lie in wait.

Team Garmin MTB split up for the Berg&Bush with Yolandi teaming up with Theresa Ralph w

hile I raced with another du Toit – Arno du Toit, from the LCB Racing team. Pitting ourselves against our contemporaries at stage races is a great way of measuring ourselves and staying motivated while not falling into the trap of complacency.

From the heat and dust of last year it was cool and wet as we set off from Windmill Farm atop the Drakensberg on Friday morning. In fact it was so wet that the first 31km was neutralized as we dropped down the escarpment on Sollie’s Folly. For once we could enjoy the views granted from this signature singletrack as the mist slowly gave way. Once at the bottom it was a short stop before we were set off in batches and racing started in earnest.

The men stayed together in a large group until the big climb about 20km from the finish where all hell broke loose. Arno and I had just chased back from an earlier puncture so we were one of the first casualties as Team PYGA Eurosteel and Team NAD battled for supremacy. Team NAD won the day after PYGA Eurosteel rode into each other causing a crash and a broken wheel. Luckily their back up team wasn’t too far away and could help them save the day with a borrowed wheel. Arno and I could also do with a spare wheel as we punctured again, finally rolling in for 7th place on the day.

Yolandi and Theresa had taken the neutral start quite literally thinking that everyone would be set off together from waterpoint 1, so they were surprised to get there and find the first bunch containing 3 ladies teams had already left. They started in the second bunch and time trialled their way through the remaining 69km’s battling the muddy course and a puncture to finish 4th on the day.

Day 2 was only 60km but most of it was on singletrack making the fight for position vital and consequently the start a veritable free for all. The strongest teams soon separated themselves from the rest and a second acceleration saw Teams NAD and PYGA Eurosteel go off the front. About halfway we passed a stricken Team NAD as they struggled to fix a puncture. They would make a comeback after some assistance from their back up team, but Team PYGA and the overall win had slipped from their grasp.

Arno and I had a fantastic day until about 3 km to go when I suffered a hunger flat while we were fighting for 3rd place on the day. We finished 4th a few seconds off the day’s podium wondering what might have been.

Yolandi and Theresa raced to their strengths going out steady and picking up speed as the day progressed. They finished 4th again, but much closer to the podium than the day before.

Day 3 was a short and sharp 48km stage with the famous Spioenkop climb thrown in towards the end. The rolling roads at the start made for a steady start to the day and once we turned into singletrack it was Team PYGA Eurosteel leading the way and setting the pace. This left about 5 teams in contention when we hit Spioenkop from where it was an all out effort to the finish. The climb took its toll but the downhill off it was so exhilarating all pain was soon forgotten. Arno and I finished 5th on the day placing 4th overall at the 12th edition of Berg&Bush.

Yolandi and Theresa rode their hearts out catching up to 3rd place but lost a bit of ground in the second half of the stage taking 4th again and 4th overall after 3 days of fantastic racing in the ladies category.

Then it was time for a final bike wash, bush shower and a scrumptious meal before we said our goodbyes to Gary and his team leaving the Berg&Bush behind knowing we will have to wait another year before the playground is open again!

Ever wondered what it’s like to MTB in Kenya? Find out here as #TeamGarminMTB recounts our adventure at the @RideRVO. @GarminSA

The Rift Valley Odyssey – what a cool name for a race, wouldn’t you agree? It implies adventure, excitement and a deep sense of fulfilment for completing a journey most people won’t even attempt! Indeed this year’s edition of the RVO had several of these features but cast in the South African mindset of ‘racing’ mountain bikes it wasn’t easy to define what exactly the RVO was, where it fit in and who it was for.

Most cycling events are referred to as races being timed events where the personwho covers the distance between the start and finish line the quickest is declared the winner. This in turn means success is defined in terms of time, often just fractions of a second separating winner’s from the rest. The Ride RVO, as it is known, is something completely different. There is no timing of participants which means riders must ‘find success’ in other ways.

With an optional prologue and 5 long stages the Ride RVO poses a substantial physical challenge for mountain bikers with most riders spending between 4.5 and 7 hours on the bike each day, covering distances between 80 and 100km per stage. The terrain is extremely varied, ever changing from the Alpine forests and tea plantations of the Kenyan Highlands (some as high as 2700m above sea level) to tropical jungles and semi desert plains where the Maasai cattle and wildlife peacefully graze next to each other as if in one great herd.

Merely completing this challenge meant success for some while spotting wildlife and other distinctly Kenyan attractions rated highly on other participants’ agenda.

For Team Garmin MTB it was the 4th and penultimate leg of our #AfricanMTBSeries. As there was no timing our aim was to immerse ourselves in the event and embrace every opportunity as it arose to make the best of our time in Kenya.

In terms of Mountain Biking, the course created from Nairobi to the border of the Maasai Mara was spectacular to say the least. Along the way we stopped at famous Kenyan landmarks such as Lake Naivasha, the dormant volcano of Mount Suswa, the Ewaso Nyiro River, the South African/Maasai camp Olkoroi and finally Cottars Camp on the banks of the Sand River right across the Maasai Mara itself.

Along the way the scenery was stunning with some uniquely African vistas from remote vantage points only accessible by foot or bike. As we sped past the local Maasai people cheered or scattered depending on the particular individual’s mix of total bewilderment, awe and grasp of the situation.

Of course this is Africa and things don’t always go to plan as we found out on days 3 and 4 when our finish of stage 3 and the start of stage 4 were delayed by ‘African toll gates’, spontaneously erected by the local tribesman demanding money for each bike, car and truck to pass despite these negotiations having been concluded weeks earlier.

Support vehicles also often got held up due to the bad roads leaving most riders stranded in their cycling clothes after stages while waiting for the luggage to arrive. Although somewhat uncomfortable, we all tried to make the best of these situations often doing things we normally wouldn’t as racing requires such dedicated focus and commitment. It’s quite amazing how much a mere dip in the river can lift ones sprits after a long day in the saddle.

A particular highlight of each day was the catering, especially considering how remote our camps were. The 2 catering teams used for the event went out of their way to accommodate everyone – even managing to please Marco and Bebo – our Italian vegan/vegetarian duo who completed the event on e-bikes complete with handlebar baskets full of nuts, leaves and other plant based nutrition!

Back to the riding and a lot of the trails used were on the best cattle paths available, also selected by boda boda (motorbike taxis) for their ‘flow’ and then unwittingly sculpted by these overloaded motorbikes going at just the right speed to give the trail a feel of flow often only reserved for hand built, MTB specific singletrack.

Taking into account the obvious challenges of hosting a MTB stage race in remote parts of Africa, the event ran off reasonably smooth but judging by the lofty standards set by South African events where the competition is so fierce, the event needs some refinement to justify its hefty price tag. That said the race has a lot of potential and if managed correctly it can become a must do ride on the African continent and beyond.

Back to the opening question of what exactly the RVO was and for who it catered, well that doesn’t really matter as long as you love riding your bike, enjoy adventure and can go with the flow – this ride is for you!