So, last week-end saw 4 mtb and 3 road events being hosted by the Durbanville High School in conjunction with the guys at Chris Willemse Cycles and PPA.
Registration started at 14h00 on Friday, 24 October at the Chris Willmese Cycles store in Durbanville and when I arrived a bit early at 13h45, the buzz was already developing! I finally picked up my 2014 Pedalpower number and prepared for my first MTB event post my cracked ribs incident. I was happy to test my body on the 36km Contermanskloof Rock Buster.
According to the event’s web site, it was suitable for the more serious weekend warrior looking for a decent workout associated with spectacular scenery and that a fair amount of technical skills would be required. Fitness levels should ideally be at least average to high.
The event started on a hot summer’s morning in Durbanville with not a breeze to be felt and not a cloud in the sky.
We had a 3 km or so neutral zone following a car until we reached Clara Anna Fontein from where we hit the dirt. From that point on it was mostly jeep track, crossing various vineyards and then a long 3-arrow-steep climb to Bloemendal.
From there we took the single track all the way up to the radio towers at the top of the hill, the highest point of the ride at 10,6km and an altitude of 467m.
After a quick Coke at the water table, it was downhill all the way on the expertly built Contermanskloof trail, courtesy of the Tygerberg MTB club. A compact track with plenty of switchbacks, jumps and berms makes for excellent riding. I must admit, a 29er hard tail might not be the most ideal bike for such a ride, as my very hard fall and beautiful blue chest bruise can attest to.
At the 20.4km mark, we were down to 108m elevation, from where some fairly flat and fast sections followed. We rode up to the Malanshoogte tarred road heading towards Hoogekraal where we took a right up the road for about 2,2km before taking and another right into some wheat fields. Riding right through the dry yellow wheat field, standing about waist high, was in sharp contrast to the green vineyards just half an hour earlier.
From there it was mostly flat again until we started climbing a short steep “sting in the tail” uphill after the last waterpoint. The last kilometre or so was on a tarred road to the finish line, 3 km from the start zone, near the Durbanville High School.
The waterpoints (all 4 of them) were well-manned and stocked with water, Coke, fruit juice, potatoes, jelly beans, other sweets and banana pieces.
All in all a great ride, well organized and one I recommend. I hope to tackle the 54km Fair Cape Chain Breaker in 2015. That one promises to challenge your stamina and technical ability and provide an experience well worth discussing over a camp fire. ( according to the event web site)
Below is a clip of the Contermanskloof trail, courtesy of the Tygerberg MTB club.
The guys & girls at Songo.info have decided to celebrate Heritage Day, Wednesday 24 September, by holding an informal kids BMX meet at the Songo BMX track in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch. There are very few BMX races in the Western Cape and they thought that it would be great for the Songo BMX kids to have a fun day doing what they love with others kids.
“This is an informal meet, rather than a race. It’s more about letting the kids socialise, have fun & celebrate life together!”, says Kathy Crabbe, the Songo General Manager
“If you are able to contribute in any way to make the day more special, it would be greatly appreciated but its not expected – we would just love for you to join us, support & share in the magic of seeing the young joy of riding bikes! Our kids are the rock stars of the future so the more people we have to encourage & cheer them on, the better!”
The details are as follows:
- DATE: Wednesday, 24 September.
- REGISTRATION: 08H30 – 09H00
- TRACK PRACTICE: 09H00
- RACE STARTS: 09H30 – 11H30
- VENUE: songo.info, Kayamandi, Stellenbosch.
- DIRECTIONS: From the R44 turn into right into Kayamandi, from the N1. Go straight over the circle & up the hill. At the T-junction turn left and go through the gate.
- For more information contact: Songo Fipaza 083 244 0734 / email@example.com
- See their Facebook page for more about Songo.info
I have always wanted to know what the difference is ( and what difference it makes) whether I take in sucrose, glucose or fructose. All I know is that it is all sugar, right? Wrong!
Sucrose, glucose and fructose are important carbohydrates, commonly referred to as simple sugars. Get the full ( but abbreviated ) scope on PowerBar.co.za
You may have heard me say that I am considering getting an e-bike (electric bicycle). So, now that I have said it, I get asked why all the time.
Okay, here’s the reasons why I am indeed seriously considering it:
- It will be for commuting (and not racing). I live 1,5 km away from my office and travel there every day by means of a 2 liter diesel engine. Sure, I have a road bike and a mountain bike and I do like riding them. I do however have meetings on most days either at my office or within a 20 km radius from my office. So, knowing that I can get there without a big car and not needing to don my lycra bib or rely on a shower at the other side, is a great plus. I will still be pedaling to get the most out of my battery, but it certainly wont be at race pace. With cycle paths now very much rolling out across all major SA cities, I can ride on those, avoiding the danger that comes with riding on the road.
- The electric bicycles cost about 2,5 to 3 times more than the cheapest scooter, so why don’t I just get a scooter? Firstly, the scooter will have to travel on the road, making it a far more dangerous option than the bicycle. Secondly, I’ll still be using fossil fuel, something I’d like to eliminate as much as possible. Thirdly: one charge of the e-bike’s battery will let me travel about 70 km. That charge ( at current Eskom rates) will cost me less than R1,00 so yes, money saving is an issue when compared to a scooter.
- I am a great Elon Musk fan, he of Tesla fame. Hopefully my affinity for battery over fossil fuel, will make me see things his way and we all know how successful he is. ( I know that is a long shot, but worth the try, right?)
- I like the helmets that e-bike riders use. Really, that is one of my major motivators!
Photo courtesy of Cycology
It was indeed a great privilege to attend the chat by Alex Harris on Tuesday evening 19 August at Waterford Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Although it was a cloudy day with some occasional rain showers, it was dry when I arrived at the venue.
With the blinds down on the big stoep area, the gas heaters on full power and excellent Waterford wines and catered eats on hand, the setting was just right.
Alex Harris, (http://www.xplorethisworld.com) for those who don’t know, is an explorer. He has climbed the seven summits, walked unsupported to the South Pole, crossed the Arabian desert unsupported and recently returned from his 15th summit of Kilimanjaro.
He is also the guy (and race director) behind the Munga, that $1million, one-stage, 1000km MTB event that will be held in December 2014.
His talk on Tuesday night however was about his preparation and experiences for and during the Freedom Challenge as well as the Tour Divide. Both of these are long distance, unsupported mountain bike events. The Freedom Challenge is over a distance of 2300km and takes the riders from Pietermaritzburg to Paarl in South Africa.
Tour Divide takes the participants from Canada all along the USA west coast to Mexico, a distance of 4418 km.
Alex shared some great “war stories” as he calls it about sleep deprivation, climbing over electric fences, being stung 30 times by bees in the face, parting a heard of buffalo and making repairs on the fly while doing the Freedom Challenge, an event he has won twice.
The Tour Divide’s challenges include snow, bears, lack of sleep and of course, 4418 km over a period of 16 days and 2hours for the 2014 winner. Alex came 3rd in 2013 and had to bail due to major injuries in his 2014 attempt.
Hearing Alex speak served as great motivation and a reminder to me to just DO IT. ( thanks Nike)
Put your mind to something, plan, train, strategize, etc. but then do it. You may not succeed the first time ( or even after you’ve been successful a few times) but you just have to take the plunge and get on. The human is an amazing being and can accomplish far more than we ever imagined ( or were told to believe when growing up)
I am motivated and will start working on my own challenges now Alex, thanks.
See some of the tweets from the function to see what others said / thought.
On Saturday 28 June the Rainbow Challenge event was held at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg. On Sunday 29 June the same venue hosted the mountain bike marathon world championship.
I was privileged enough to hang out there for the whole week-end to experience the vibe, albeit not on a bike. Yes, I went to chat to every-one that would listen, about the Munga, take photos, tweet and update my MTB contacts while there.
When I arrived on Friday afternoon it was cold and very muddy. Slipping and sliding through the venue to the briefing area was not a good sign of things to come. The cold conditions persisted on Saturday, though there was no rain. The various categories in the Rainbow Challenge set off from 08h00. Men 30-59 did the 70km route and the women and men 60+ did the 50km route. It was clear that this course, also the SA MTB champs course, was not for beginners. I overheard one rider say that the race was tougher than the Epic! I trust he meant one stage of the Epic. Either way, it was a mean course.
On Sunday, the weather started out very cold once again when the pro men started their 95 km race followed by the 74km ladies race. By the time the first men came in, it had warmed up enough for me to be in my shorts and T-shirt. There was a nice vibe at the supporters area near the finish line ( as well as the bar and food stands!)
Seeing those elite riders come in was a great sight to behold. Knowing that these guys and girls traveled from all over the world to participate in South Africa was a great feeling. Seeing how few people came out to watch, was however embarrassing. Being a world championship event I expected a lot more people coming to enjoy the vibe. Heck, it was the first time ever that Nepal sent a team to the world marathon champs and where were the supporters?
Being at the finish area when Jaroslav Kulhavy stopped just before the finish line to pick up his bike and carry it over the line was great. Seeing Annika Langvad claiming her 3rd world title was also awesome.
Chatting with the legendary Mannie Heymans ( Team Namibia manager) about fatbikes, Cory Wallace ( Team Canada pro) who saw his first ever giraffe during his race, Friedemann (Team Bulls Manager) about his team possibly riding the Munga and other organisers and sponsors over the 2 days in addition to taking over 200 photos was a great experience and one I hope to enjoy again.
See the full pro results here: http://mtbworldchamps.co.za/results.html
On a cold and misty Saturday morning, I found myself at the start line of the inaugural Darling Brew Extreme MTB, Bone Crusher route. And yes, it was held in the village of Darling, about 76km north of Cape Town.
We started off a little after the 08h00 on a fast and flat stretch of farm roads. The first climb, ascending Klipberg was not nearly as tough as they made it out to be. You basically juts had to be in front at the start to win the king of the mountain prize. The descent onto the single track, just after the 10km mark is where the fun started. The fun and tough 15km of single track on the farm Wolwefontein, was absolutely great.With short uphills, plenty of downhills, rock gardens and well built berms, this was indeed a mountain bikers dream.
I saw some slashed tyres and 2 men down while on that section, making it both exciting but also requiring all your attention not to become a casualty.
The single track really exhausted me and I was very grateful for the second water point at the 25km mark. Here I had Bar-ones, dried wors and 2 Cokes. From here we returned the way we came and rode into Darling and out again on the other side back onto farmlands.
The mist stayed thick and low and only once for 15 minutes or so could I enjoy the beautiful vineyards and countryside of the Darling hills.
The koppie we had to climb to the 38km mark was really tough, with most riders opting to walk. It was short and very steep, followed by a steep downhill on the other side, only to be followed by another steep but longer uphill up to 44km.
From there it was a great downhill section back into town and out the other side again and still not the end. The 55km route ended up being 57,5km.
Every finisher received a Darling Brew beer glass with a token for a free draft beer as well as a piece of local dried wors and a Darling dairies yogurt.
There was a great vibe in the tent afterwards with stalls selling delicious local fare. All in all a great first event for the organisers and one I’ll be back to do.
Well done to Justin Basson and his team of the Renosterveld MTB stage race who organised the event.
Some positive feedback:
- Please make sure we don’t get lost only 200m after the start
- Please make sure we don’t get lost at about 37km way out on a farm without any route markers.
- More than 1 queue for beer next time.
- Those showers guys…..
Last Thursday, 22 May 2014 was indeed a huge day for MTB, not just in South Africa, but globally.
It saw the launch of what the organisers are calling the world’s toughest, most demanding – yet most rewarding – mountain bike race.
The Munga – a 1000km, single-stage race will now offer the type of prize money NEVER before seen in cycling of any discipline. In fact, it now rivals prize monies usually reserved for international golf championships. First prize is US$ 750,000, 2nd: US$100,00 and 3rd: US$50,000 per 2-man team. Every team ( besides the top 3) finishing within the cut-off time of 5 days also stands a chance of grabbing the underdog “lucky draw” prize of US$100,000.
“The Munga offers more than just a race, it’s a test against the toughest of external elements and against the human body, but most importantly, it’s a game changer,” says Alex Harris, renowned explorer, athlete, founder of Xplore Authentic Experiences and Race Director of The Munga.
“With The Munga’s prize money significantly more that of current event prizes, it is a massive leap for the sport and one that we hope will bring greater recognition to the sport and to the racer in all of us.”
Two-person teams will tackle this single stage mountain bike race that will take place from the 3rd of December 2014. The intense, 1000km route for The Munga’s inaugural race will start in Bloemfontein, leading riders through vast distances across the Karoo, and conclude at the finish line at the Waterford Wine Estate, in the heart of Stellenbosch.
“The world is not short of tough things to do. It’s short of tough people willing to tackle tough things. And this is set to be one of the toughest races on earth. Do you have what it takes to compete in The Munga and win your share of a million dollars?” concluded Harris.
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