Tag Archives: Yolandi du Toit

My race report of the @CapeEpic. @GarminSA @Merida_SA

Lately I’ve been trekking from one event to the next only to find myself back where it all started after more than 4 weeks on the road. As I sit here, I feel fortunate to be able to reflect on the good memories made along the way.

My journey started with the Garden Route 300 in Knysna, then it was onwards to Cape Town for the Cape Town Cycle Tour the following weekend and finally I lined up for the Absa Cape Epic.

This opportunity came about towards the end of last year when Theresa Ralph asked me if I would team up with her for the Epic and race as Team Galileo Risk (Theresa’s sponsor). With the blessing of my sponsor (Garmin) I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and so the preparation started for the 13th edition of the Absa Cape Epic.10399932_10154617747919018_4087019982905898981_n

The 8-day stage race started with a 26km prologue at Meerendal Wine Estate in Durbanville on the 13th of March. The following 7 stages took riders to Tulbagh, Wellington, Boschendal and back to Meerendal Wine Estate for the Grand Finale.

The 652km route might have been the shortest in history, but it included more single-trails (110km) and climbing (15 100m) than ever before. This made for a very challenging Epic as single trails and ascents often take longer to navigate than open, flat gravel roads. Luckily both Theresa and I enjoy climbing which was a step in the right direction.

The Tankwa Trek 3 day stage race marked our first outing together as a team. The event took place a month before the Epic and here we managed to find our groove.  This allowed us to go into the Epic and simply apply what we’d figured out works best for us as a team.

From the start Theresa and I were on the same page and we rode consistently throughout the Epic. We understood each other, respected each other and had a very positive influence on one another. This along with the unbelievable support we received from our backup crew (Gear Group) and mechanical crew (Cutting Edge and Dunkeld Cycles) all contributed to our performance and enjoyment of the event.

During a week-long stage race where you spend so many hours on your bike under extreme pressure and in all conditions, you are extremely lucky if all goes to plan. Even though we had our moments to keep us on our toes, we were fortunate not to have any major hassles. On stage 1 I cut my tire’s sidewall a mere 9km into the stage leaving us with a daylong chase and on stage 4 Theresa’s front shock collapsed requiring a quick stop at the tech zone to fix it. On stage 6 we both came down on “the slippery bridge” of the day. The previous night’s rain left the bridge rather wet and it only took a couple of the front rider’s muddy tyre tracks to turn the bridge into an ice sheet. The fact that the bridge was built at an angle and placed just before a tight left hand turn didn’t help and left me, Theresa and the two guys behind us skiing sideways across it. It was actually a relief to hear that the 4 of us weren’t the only riders whose ice-skating ability weren’t up to scratch.

Fun and games aside, the unfortunate crash left Theresa with a broken spoke and me with a painful knee which would luckily only affect me on the final day.

The last stage turned out to be the hardest battle of all. A stomach bug kept Theresa awake the entire night and left her with a drained body to fight the final 85km to Meerendal. I wasn’t of much help either as I struggled to push hard on the pedal with my injured knee. We soldiered on regardless and were very relieved to finally cross the finish line.

We lost a lot of 1919611_10208810585520026_986156623998756963_ntime to our competitors that day and even started to make peace with losing our 5th place overall. Fortunately the hard fought battle wasn’t all in vain and we managed keep our overall general classification placing despite our troubles.

The harder you fight for something to more you appreciate it and man were we happy to officially finish in 5th place overall at the Absa Cape Epic. We were also the first African ladies team home and both Theresa and I are looking forward to seeing the African Ladies leaders jersey’s added to the rest of the Epic race categories in 2016.

 

My race report of the @gardenroute300. @GarminSA @Merida_SA

When I left home for the Garden Route 300 it wasn’t only for one race but for a month long road trip which will include the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Absa Cape Epic by the time I am done.6

My first stop was the harbour town of Knysna which hosts the Garden Route 300. This year’s edition of the race saw a different format as only solo entries were allowed and stages were shortened to accommodate those who would go on to compete at the Cape Epic just 2 weeks later.

Stages one and three started and finished at Quay 4 restaurant on Thesen Island while stage 2 was held from the Garden Route Trail Park situated between Knysna and Sedgefield.

I had a very consistent race placing 3rd on every stage to secure my 3rd spot on the overall podium by the time all was said and done. Robyn de Groot won the ladies category with Catherine Williamson in 2nd place, both of their daily placings matching their overall results.

The Garden Route in the Western Cape is a beautiful part of South Africa. Every year at this event I’m thankful to Garden Route Events for organising a mountain bike stage race through the pristine Knynsa Forest. The race route with its 4560 m of climbing was by no means an easy feat but battling it out in beautiful surrounds made the physical challenge a lot more bearable.

Currently I am travelling down to Cape Town for the CT Cycle Tour. As Garmin is the technical sponsor of the event I’m sure it will be a busy week but more of that later…..

 

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My race report of the DU TOIT tankwa TREK @tankwatrek @GarminSA

The DU TOIT tankwa Trek is fast becoming one of South Africa’s premier 3 day mountain bike stage races. It is hosted at Kaleo Guest Farm and takes place in the beautiful Koue Bokkeveld region of the Western Cape Province.

As the race is held a mere 4 weeks prior to the Absa Cape Epic and offers similar riding conditions to what one will encounter at the Epic, it has become an almost compulsory preparation event for the Epic.

As such, it only made sense to team up with my 2016 Epic partner Theresa Ralph for this year’s edition of the DU TOIT tankwa TREK. Our main goal was to get familiar with each other’s riding styles and to develop an effective team strategy.

The total 265km route included 5250m of climbing and challenged riders in all aspects of the sport thanks to the varied terrain. The course consisted of loose and rocky gradients, some ridiculously steep ascents, winding trails through spectacular rocky outcrops and some meandering through succulent fruit orchards. The demanding terrain left its mark and it was actually quite comical to hear mountain bikers (myself included) complaining about cramping arms and hands instead of just the usual feet and legs.

I’ve raced against Theresa on countless occasions but this was our first outing as a team. Standing 183cm (6 feet) tall and with fiery red hair, Theresa always left the impression of “don’t mess with me”, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Theresa is actually a “Gentle Giant” and one of the kindest ladies on the mountain bike circuit. I can only say that it was truly a pleasure to race alongside her and spend time in her company.

Theresa and I had a consistent ride from beginning to end and kept on learning from each other as the kilometres ticked by. By day 3 we both felt like we’d managed to find our groove and now we are looking forward to our next stage race as a team.

Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag won the DU TOIT tankwa Trek overall with Bianca Haw and Candice Neethling in 2nd place. Theresa and I finished in 3rd place on all 3 stages to secure the final step on the podium.

Event organisers, Dryland, have a winning recipe with the DU TOIT tankwa Trek as it caters for a limited field of riders, offers tough but very rewarding riding, a stunning venue, delicious food and a warm, local atmosphere. If you are as fortunate as me to make it to the event and find a very kind partner to ride with, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience!

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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