Tag Archives: Cycling Coach

My race report of the @gardenroute300 @GarminSA

This past weekend’s racing saw me travel to the sea side town of Knysna for the Garden Route 300. The 3 day mountain bike stage race traversed the beautiful Knysna forests covering just less than 300km, hence its name.  Although long in distance, the real challenge lay in the amount of climbing – 6200 m of ascent over the 3 stages.

Initially I was going to ride in the solo category, but after my positive experience in the mixed racing at Tankwa Trek it was an easy decision to accept Johan Labuschagne’s invitation to team up at the GR 300. The Labuschagne brothers are well known for their kind and gentle nature and this was confirmed during my three days of racing with Johan as partner. Thus far I’m really enjoying mixed racing and feel privileged to add another good experience to the list.

Stage one, 90km and 1950m of ascent

On day one we woke to falling rain which barely let up throughout the day. This made route conditions very tough, especially the last 30km when my brake pads were worn to the point of binding on my rear disc. Imagine pedalling your bike while pulling the brake lever…. not ideal!

It took a hard effort from both Johan and myself to reach the finish and we were proud to win the first stage and take the leaders jerseys.

With the extreme conditions and tough course there were three things which were obligatory to survive the day – Squirt lube on your chain which meant I never had to stop and re-apply lube, my Merida Big Ninety Nine Team Full Suspension that made riding over bumps and roots seem effortless and Continental tyres that always work come rain, shine or rocks.

Stage 2, 100km and 2400m of ascent

Our efforts from day one caught up to us on stage two and the 2 km portage section across the Homtini river/valley hallway through the stage was the final nail in our coffin as we settled for 2nd on the stage and relinquished our overall lead to Nizaam Esa and Catherine Williamson (Team Asirin).

Stage 3, 86km and 1800m of ascent

Our mechanical misfortunes resurfaced on the final day when Johan’s gears malfunctioned without warning. Although I wanted to race for first place, deep down a small part of me was slightly relieved with the ‘easier’ riding.  We finished 2nd on the stage again, securing our 2nd place overall behind Team Asirin. Piet Stopforth and his wife Ischen rounded out the podium in 3rd place.

Garden Route 300 is surely one of the more challenging 3 day stage races on the South African calendar. Every day’s hard work was rewarded with fine dining at the Quay Four Restaurant on Thesen Island, which also served as the home of the event. Thanks to Louise Wilson and her Garden Route Events team for hosting truly unique events in a beautiful part of our extraordinary country.

Next up is the Cape Cycle Tour (formerly ‘The Argus’) and a weekend where Garmin will be doing a lot as new fitness partner to Discovery Vitality. Come say hi if you are at the Cycle Tour Expo.

GR 300 IMG-20150301-WA0013

My race report of the Du Toit @tankwatrek @GarminSA

After the national road championships in the Lowveld, it was a quick travel home to unpack, repack and swap skinny tyres for fat ones before travelling to the Boland for the Tankwa Trek 3 day mountain bike stage race.

The event took place just above the beautiful Ceres Valley which is well known for its fruit production.  Kaleo Guest farm was the hub from where each of the three stages started and finished. Here riders camped and got treated to delicious farmers food as they rested their weary legs after a hard day’s ride.

Each stage was designed by different local farmers whose land we traversed on that particular day. This intimate knowledge ensured that we got to see the best trails and scenery the Koue Bokkeveld has to offer. Over the three days of racing we covered about 250km which included 5305 m of climbing for good measure.

At stage races I usually participate in the ladies category, but this time around I decided to give mixed racing a go and partnered with fellow coach and mentor, Dr Mike Posthumus. This category has a completely different dynamic compared to the other categories. As expected the male participant would generally be much stronger than the female and teamwork is the deciding factor in getting the team across the line in the shortest possible time.

Mike and I are both quite inexperienced at mixed racing and to make the best of whatever happened, we decided to see it as a learning experience if nothing else. It was actually quite astonishing to witness, but from the moment we set off for the first 85km stage Mike’s knowledge and background of professional sport became apparent. He immediately grasped, and taught me along the way, what it required to get the best out of our partnership in order to do well in the race.

At 90kg of lean muscle, Mike is an extremely powerful cyclist and a very thoughtful teammate. When he wasn’t pulling or pushing me, he sheltered me from the wind. He continually made sure that I was eating and drinking enough, even stopping to fill our water bottles at the water points while I kept on riding and kept me motivated to push hard on the pedals.

I finished every stage completely exhausted, but riding with someone that gave 100% to the partnership made the suffering very worthwhile.

In the end we gained a lot more than just experience in the mixed category. We finished 2nd on stages one and two and took the win on the third and final stage.

The pairing of Candice Neethling and Craig Boyes (Team Asrin) took overall honours with Mike and me (Team Garmin) placing 2nd overall with Leana De Jager and Johan Labuschagne (Team Sasol) in 3rd place.

The weather and a partnership at a stage race has one thing in common – it can make or break your experience of the event and I left Tankwa Trek with a big smile on my face. Thanks Mike for being a great teammate and I look forward to more stage racing together in the near future.

 

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Race Report -South African National Road Championships @GarminSA

The annual South African National Road, Time Trial and Para-cycling Championships were held around Mbombela stadium on the outskirts of Nelspruit. This prestigious event ran from the 2nd until the 8th of February and promised to showcase the top South African athletes battling for the coveted national titles.

After my performance at Meerendal I was a bit apprehensive about my participation at SA Champs, but every cloud has a silver lining and with the advice and unwavering support of my back-up team I regained the courage to start the elite ladies event.

The undulating 14km road race lap contained 3 hills followed by steep descents which we would cover 8 times for a total of 112km with 1896m of climbing. At the bottom of each descent a traffic circle would steer the course in a new direction and the sweeping bends were the highlight of my race. With full road closure, newly tarred roads and the accumulated speed from the descent, one could really dive into the corners without reservation.

The elite ladies set off at 1pm on Saturday afternoon and if the racing wasn’t going to be aggressive the route and soaring temperature would definitely make it a race of attrition.

The undisputed favourite in our race was world class cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Passio. The moment we left the start line she was marked so closely that some riders would literally be following her around in the bunch, pulling brakes to make sure they could stay behind her.

Despite this Ashleigh kept her head and actually lay her cards on the table every time we hit an incline. She would attack from the bottom of the steepest drag out on course and keep the pace high until reaching the summit. Doing this repeatedly, she sapped the field’s energy and on the final lap she put this blue print in ink by breaking clear from the field to solo in for a well-deserved victory.

I went into the race knowing that I’m not fully prepared for a road race. You can carry your fitness across from mountain biking, but the race intensity is quite different. In a mountain bike race you ride at a constant high tempo whereas in a road race there are a lot of surges. With this in mind I made my goal to go out, give my best and race positively. For this reason my emphasis wasn’t on Ashleigh but on the racing that lay ahead of us.

I tried to animate the race as best as I could and paid for it at times by getting dropped and having to chase back to the leaders. In contrast to the previous week, my body embraced the suffering this time around and I was able to get back to the front each time. On the final lap I was still in the front group of eight riders and by just being there, it meant I had exceeded all my expectations. I crossed the finish line in eighth place, while An-Li Kacheloffer went on the finish in 2nd place with Lynette Pieterse in 3rd.

I’ve been to a few South African National Road Championships albeit a couple of years ago and the 2015 edition was definitely one of the better ones. A big thanks to the organisers for doing an excellent job in hosting the event and even more so for having it in the beautiful Lowveld region.

SA Champs