Wednesday, 10 September 2014

York Enduro MTB Rally: Sabie 3-7 September 2014

Wow! I honestly believe this is one of the best events in the country at this moment. Something a little different yes, but this might just become the future of the sport we love. York Timbers started with this concept last year and it was a major success. This year they went even bigger. The effort and organization was absolutely mind blowing!
I was invited as one of 24 pro riders. On day 1 we had to race down a mountain to see who could set the fastest time on 4.2km of the best single track I’ve ever ridden. This would be the opportunity for each of us "pro's" to show the 24 corporate teams invited how well we can ride bicycles. After a long day of training I had solid run in the final with no mistakes and managed to win the downhill. Very surprising to most, seeing that I was on a hard tail.

The corporate teams then had a chance to buy a pro by means of a silent auction/elimination process. I was paired up with the York Invitational guys. Between Justin Victor, Owen Hanie and Danny Spence I didn't feel very "pro" to be honest. We also had oom Oscar from York. Some local knowledge is always a big help of course.

Day 2 & 3 where the proper enduro stages. Each day was between 35 and 40km with 8 timed segments in total. The idea here was for us to ride together as a team of 5. Then each rider would hit the timed sections as hard as possible and wait for all members at the bottom, regroup and continue. 

Remembering the rough terrain from last year, I kitted my Ritchey Vantage Carbon wheel set out with some bulletproof Continental X-Kings. In this game you have to risk it if you want the biscuit. Taking risks and riding on the limit for a few days means it’s inevitable that mistakes will happen. I made mistakes, but the Dogma was faultless. 

I ended up winning a few of these segments as individual and with my "ex pro" team we also did pretty well compared to the others.

Saturday afternoon we took part in a "Dual Slalom Eliminator". Basically we raced our bikes down a twisty short course over a few jumps for a rather large amount of money.

It all went very well. I had a tight battle with Justin Victor in the semis, made it to the final and then I was taught a lesson in cornering by Ollie Munnik.

Sunday morning we all took part in a very relaxed 40km half marathon around Sabie. This was a nice warm up for the spectacular XCO showdown to close off the event in the afternoon.

After a few long days in the lowveld sun we lined up for the big burner. 2 laps around the very well-built 2.2km course. This was one of the most fun courses I’ve ever ridden. A wonderful mix of everything from rocks to roots. Logs and jumps with beautiful berms, they’ve done a spectacular job!

With the race being so short I knew who to watch and that they will be going hard from the gun. My plan was to stay calm and follow, but still be close to the front at all times. I was happy to sit 2nd or 3rd wheel for the first lap and a half. I made my move and no one followed so I rode of and took the win!

Big thank you to York Timbers and everyone involved in this event. It is a really great concept and I hope to see it grow and take off in the future.

Monday, 21 July 2014

SA XCO Champs 2014 - Alan Hatherley

This was one my goal events for the year and after getting a notification from Cycling SA the week before that I had been selected for the 2014 SA World Champs Team this gave me extra motivation to aim for renewing my SA Junior Champions jersey.

We left on the Thursday morning, bright and early to head to Johannesburg the province that got to host this year’s SA XCO Champs, and after what felt like a 24 hour drive we arrived at Thaba Trails. The venue looked awesome with people already on the course it made me itch to get on the bike and go check it out especially after all the hype on TV as well as over social media about the technical sections. I suited up and got my things together and hit the course. After doing only about 1km of the track I reached the first technical section which had a crowd of riders trying to interpret the rock section to find the best line. I had a look myself and managed to find a quick but safe line, then moved on. I soon realised there wasn’t much of a break on this track, with the hills being just off vertical and covered in rocks followed by technical downhills also covered in rocks. There were about 4 extreme technical sections which suited me, but on the day I didn't feel good on the course at all. It was a 4km rock garden and I found that holding momentum was very difficult, so I did 3 laps and called it a day.

On the Friday, we arrived at the track fairly early at Thaba as an ASG crew and set out the Epic Sports gazebos. We then all kitted up and hit the course to do our final inspections before the next day’s race. The first lap went well, which was then followed by a hot lap with Arno which opened my eyes as to how fast it was possible to get around the course. We did a 15:30 just off race pace, which gave me a good idea of what to expect for the next day’s race. With the feed zone set up looking awesome, we tied it down to stop everything from blowing away then we all headed on home. Later on that day I took my bike to Epic Sports, so that they could do a final run through and race prep my bike!

It was race day and with my start being only later on in the day at 2, it meant I had a long wait which in a way I was grateful for because of the cold temperature during the morning. 1 o’clock eventually came and we headed to the track, and with arriving later it allowed me to start my warm up straight away and get my concentration sorted for the race. Juniors were due to do 4 laps, which meant it was going to be flat out and with the start straight being short it meant I had to get into the single track first as passing was going to be difficult.

After my warm up I felt ready to race so I headed to the start chute for line up and watched the Elites and U23’s pull away. There was only a 2 minute gap between us and the u23’s making a quick line up and we were off. I managed to get a good start and got myself to the front of the field and lead them out over the first few km’s of the course. My aim for the race was to ride clever and not push the limits unless I had to as I couldn’t afford an injury so close to World’s. After about 2km I had managed to ride everyone off my wheel and from there I settled into a comfortable pace. The course had broken up badly, with powder everywhere and more rocks making the course even tougher! I managed to get about a 30 second gap after the first lap which wasn’t much and the group was chasing hard. My second lap I made a few mistakes in the technical sections loosing a lot of my gap allowing the field to get to 15 seconds behind me. On my last two laps I put the hammer down a little and got two solid laps in and extended my gap to make sure that my victory was safe. I ended up winning by 1minute 20seconds! It was a super tough race allowing for few mistakes and I was glad to have come out with the win, giving me the SA XCO title for both of my Junior years.

Thanks to Paul Cordes and the ASG crew for working in the tech and feeding zone as well as to my parents for taking me to the event and last but not least thank you to everyone out on the course for the support

Monday, 14 July 2014

Hi All

Last weekend was the Gauteng xco champs which was held at Thaba Trails south of JHB.

This bumpy, technical course scattered with numerous obstacles, power climbs and rock gardens is the location for next weekends SA XCO champs. This made it a great opportunity for riders to get some practice in prior to the big event and even fine tune equipment and strategies.

The weather was cool and windy as expected and the turn out was perhaps a little disappointing but the racing was hot on the very spectator friendly course and the fluo gang didn't disappoint.

Our team took away no less than 6 wins on the day from Azulda in sub junior women through to Alan in Vets! Arno and Yolande won the elites, Paul the sub vet B and Genevieve the overall and junior women.

Adding to this Alan Hatherly won the junior cat and 6th overall at the Toti 94km road race for his final preparation leading up to the National champs this weekend.

Gert Heyns has also been in the highveld preparing for this weekend so our team will almost be at full strength which is going to be very exciting.

Then on an international level Alan has qualified for the SA World Champs team in Norway later this year. We will be holding thumbs that all of his preparations go to plan leading up to that event.

Be sure follow our twitter feed next weekend and we will keep you updated on all the happenings and results from the National Champs.

Until then,

Happy cycling

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

PE XCO - Gert Heyns

With my XCO season getting off to a slow start this year, I knew that this weekend's result would be very important for World Champs team selection, as we have had some particularly close racing in the u23 men category this year. I was satisfied that my training since Mankele, in the build up to SA XCO Champs next month, went well.

We raced on mostly the same track at Hayterdale Trails as last year. It is a track I really enjoy racing on.
Our race got off to a very fast start with Philip Buys (Scott) putting the hammer down from the first single track. I managed to follow his wheel and we easily opened a gap on the rest of the field. After about two laps I couldn't hold the pace anymore and had to back off a bit. Rourke Croezer (Kargo) caught me and after a good tumble in the rock garden I found myself in 3rd on my own.

I managed to stay consistent for the remaining laps to bring home 3rd overall and 1st u23, a solid result that should hopefully secure me a spot for the World Champs in September, one of my big goals for this year.
My team mate Arno did well to grit it out and hang on to a 6th place, despite being ill in the run-up to the race. Alan Hatherly completely dominated the junior race again. We were all well served by our Pinarello bikes and High5 nutrition.

Next weekend I'm going to give the Marathon World Championship in Pietermaritzburg a go, sounds like we can expect a tough 90km race and with almost 100 of the world's marathon specialists in the mix, it certainly isn't going to be easy!


Racing this past Weekend

Hi All

I hope you had a good weekend.

The team did great again and looked amazing in the new kit - lots of compliments so thanks very much to the F-Tech team!

It was the last round of the SA Cup which was held in PE. The juniors were first up where Genevieve finished 3rd but has closed the gap considerably to the first two so hopefully can get even closer before SA Champs in a months time. Alan after finding out a few weeks ago that his up-and-downs was due to bilhazia which he has now treated he definitely got his mojo back and smashed the junior field!

Our mini Fiksburg ferrari, Simone won the sprogs which was a great way to finish up her series.

Then at the sharp end Gert finished a very strong 3rd place overall (1st u23) dueling in the front with Phillip Buys for a couple laps while previous event winner Arno who is still recovering from illness was able to dig out a respectable 7th overall (4th u23). Both of these guys are aiming high for SA champs next month so hold your thumbs that the final prep goes to plan.

In other parts of the country Yolande won the mixed cat at the Dusi2c with partner Eugene Botha from TIB Team so another good race from her.

This week is the World Marathon Champs where we only have 1 rider racing so we wish Gert the best of luck there!

Until next time, happy trails

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Nissan Trailseeker #1, Cullinan - Christine Popich

Having heard that the previous year’s race was quite a challenge with steep, rocky climbs I felt quite nervous as it was my first time doing a race in Cullinan. The academy’s guys doing the marathon looked good with their fancy Pinarello DogmaXC’s and striking yellow Rudy Project helmets. Ready to once again make their mark!

On the start line of the 45km I realized that today wasn’t going to be easy and I knew the pace was going to be tough, especially with riders like Lynette and Kristen, but I felt pretty confident because I was riding on my new wheels.  A High5 ISO Gel down and then it was go-time!

The race started off with a dusty headwind and a badly marked turn off! About 10km into the race we were only four women left in the leading group.  Up until then, the route was all flat jeep tracks and we realized that this was a way different route than last year, this was when one of the ladies broke away from us.
About 30km into the race I started losing focus and dropped from the other two ladies. When seeing Lynette catch up, I dropped my head, took another High5 ISO Gel, tucked my elbows and started grinding bigger gears, trying to catch up with the leaders. The route had some awesome single track and the bigger wheels definitely made a difference on the flats.

I was happy to cross the finish line 1st Junior female and 4th female overall.

Well done to the Academy with the podiums achieved this weekend and thanks for everyone’s help and support. Thanks Paul, Yolande, Epic Sports and a[s]g!

Definitely looking forward to the next Trailseeker!
Christine Popich

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Mankele, Rooiberg and the African Youth Games

Arno and Gert went 1-2 at the UCI cat 1 National that was held at Mankele earning them valuable points as the race for Olympics starts to heat up. This result also gave our Academy our first ever 1-2 at a national level event which is amazing considering all the head ache this year. Also at this event Genevieve won the junior women (her first xco national win) as well as Azulde in the Youth women cat. Our 2 sprogs Simone and Stephan both finished 2nd in their cat.

At Rooiberg the U23s, Marcel and Edwill did great finishing 3rd and 5th in the marathon respectively and Jacques finished 5th in the half marathon.

Tomorrow I am holding thumbs for Alan Hatherly as he takes part in the African Youth Games for xco and hopefully earns some good points towards youth Olympics and World Champs later in the year.

Then on a different note, one of our entry tier members Niel did a spectacular crash over the bars 2 weeks ago at the Provincial which we got a clip of and posted on facebook. It went over 5000 views today which is quite funny. Thankfully he was alright!

Hope everyone has a great weekend.