Monthly Archives: April 2018

The @CradleTraverse -The evolution of events

The Glacier Cradle Traverse is an intimate, family-orientated event held close to the Cradle of Humankind on the Western outskirts of Johannesburg. Just across the Muldersdrift stream from where it was held last year, the Avianto Lifestyle Estate took over as base camp for the 2nd edition of the event. The beautiful surroundings and practical layout of the camp made one easily forget we were within touching distance of South Africa’s busiest economic hub.

 

The 8am starts, very manageable stage distances and interesting routes added to the allure of the event and with 3-day, 2-day and fun ride options there was something for everyone to enjoy. Add to that the hospitality synonymous with any and all of the Dryland events and you have a winner!

Yolandi and I did the inaugural event last year but started each day at the back and slowly worked our way through the field focussed on enjoying the event and interacting as much as possible with fellow competitors. This year we had a diffe

rent tactic… We still wanted to enjoy the event and stay true to its nature, but we also wanted to enjoy the trails and get in some fast miles. We hatched a plan to start mid field and race from the gun, but made sure to stop at each waterpoint and enjoy what was on offer. If you saw what was on offer at each waterpoint, you would understand!

Our plan worked pretty well and each day we started pretty quick, working our way through the field only to be one of the first teams to stop at the waterpoints. Riding a bit faster also changed our perception of the race route as the trails came alive when we tackled them slightly quicker than before. In fact it was so much fun we had to force ourselves to stop

, but the variety and quality of refreshments offered at the waterpoints made stopping easier. Inspiration soon struck and we invented the date ball sandwich consisting of home-made banana bread and freshly baked date balls – a firm favourite which soon became a regular at waterpoint 2 on each day. Waterpoint 3 was the one closest to home which required protein for recovery and as luck would have it that came in the form of freshly braai’d (barbequed) ostrich steaks and a sip of CBC beer to wash it down.

The race route was largely on singletrack, expertly connected by route director Richard Beswick to showcase the best the area had to offer while allowing for good flow from one section to the next. Each day had a character all of its own ranging from loose and gravely to rocky and steep with just enough climbing to challenge riders without making it so hard that you wanted to quit.

Post ride facilities were well catered for with enough clean showers and ablutions for everyone.

Food is a big part of any event’s success and the breakfast, lunch and dinner served at the event was more than enough to keep everyone happy.

The Cape Epic – A week spent playing bike with friends!

This might come as a surprise, but the Cape Epic is not one of my favourite races. This is mostly due its ever increasing commercial nature which goes against our perceived ethos of mountain biking which promotes inclusivity instead of exclusivity. Despite the massive infrastructure, very professional organization and exceptional marketing it is very hard to justify the R80,000/€5600/$7000 entry fee per team for an 8-day stage race. Add to that your travel costs, accommodation and any race services and it becomes a luxury that very few can afford.

That being said, there is no denying that the Epic is one of the most renowned and widely publicised MTB events in the world, providing huge potential for sponsors. As such it would be negligence bordering on unprofessionalism from Team Garmin MTB not to participate at the race if given the opportunity. 

 

Apart from these obvious professional reasons and MUCH more significant was that we were invited to be part of the Gear Group for the 2018 Cape Epic. Gus Klöhn is a 10-time Cape Epic finisher and each year he takes 4 or 5 teams to the Epic with an overly dedicated and professional back up squad to look after all our wants and needs during the race. Yolandi and I have been part of this setup before and we jumped at the chance to be part of it again, knowing that the event serves as an opportunity for an extraordinary group of friends to share in a unique experience. Yolandi teamed up with Gus Klöhn while I joined Angus Alexander for our 8 day journey around the Cape.

The race started with a 20km prologue on Table Mountain followed by 4 long days (all between 110km to 122km) around the Robertson valley, into Worcester and on to Wellington. A 40km Time Trial in Wellington preceded the closing stages which consisted of 2 relatively short but sharp stages, both featuring 2000m of climbing in about 70km.

Angus is a property consultant by trade and as an amateur he had put in a lot of training and sacrifices with a top 50 result in mind. We started steady and not only paced ourselves through every day, but also over the 8 days of the race. We raced smart, saving where we could and always riding within ourselves – physically and technically. Were it not for a bit of illness on the last 2 days we would have had a perfect run, but over 8 days of racing we couldn’t have asked for much more. We achieved our goal, crossing the finish line at Val de Vie in 44th place overall and 7th in the Master’s class – not bad for a Pro-am team. 

Or at least so we thought until Gus and Yolandi got going… Gus is a seasoned campaigner at the Epic, but this was his first time racing in a mixed team. He just got on with things while Yolandi was always there backing up his efforts. As with all his other Epics Gus went from strength to strength throughout the week and by stage 2 they hit the podium in 3rd place on the day. They followed that up with 2nd on stages 3 and 4, ending the race on the overall podium with a superb 3rd place in the Mixed Category – Impressive stuff! The other teams in our group finished in 56th (Rowan and Gregg Grobler) and 69th (Andrew Grobler and Guylin van den Berg) making it a very successful week for our gang.

Upon reflection it was a memorable 8 days spent in fantastic company with the fine results merely a positive addition to all the banter, laughter and camaraderie amongst a special group of special people.

Next up for Team Garmin MTB will be the Glacier Cradle Traverse around the Cradle of Humankind in the West of Johannesburg. We had a great time at the inaugural event last year and look forward to Dryland’s Highveld event.