Saturday, 25 June 2011

Nissan Hazeldean 2011 by pc

Nissan Marathon Series #1 Hazeldean 2011
Well this weekend was the start of the local Nissan series that takes place in and around Gauteng as well as the launch of Yolandes and my blog which we have been in the process of creating for the better part of a year. Therefore needless to say I was aiming for a good result which would be no better way to advertise the new blog but unfortunately it was not to be! However I will run you through the first half of the race up until the part where I threw myself over the handlebars as well as inform you of some better news instead:
Week two of Yolandes rehab is complete and Monday will see her return onto the bike for her first normal ride in several months! So far all has gone to plan and we have been very grateful how her operation went as well as her recovery thus far. With a bit of luck we will see her back on the circuit in a few weeks and look forward to the rest of the year ahead!
Anyway enough about that, back to the race! If you were to guess that the combination of -2deg temp registered on the SRM or the 300kph winds or my massive body fat content was nothing short of unpleasant then you wouldn’t be far wrong! However the vibe and the whole setup of the start/finish area was fantastic and added to that the fact that entries closed at 2000 riders this year shows that the organizers are doing something right!
A very strong field rolled off the launch pad at 7:30 and bound with the unusual arm/knee warmer combos, windjammers, buffs, winter gloves and Under Armour combinations that are less commonly found at mtb events we were on our way. On the first small climb team mate Charles Keey put in a charge which the rest of the front runners took a keen interest in, closed down and then basically never let up. The pace was fast to say the least in less than 5km I was apart of a 9man lead group with no one else in sight! From there the tactics started with surges and counters until Adrien made a strong move and sent the rest of us gasping for a rear wheel! A 5 man chase group formed with Jacques sitting in nicely and a few seconds back were Charles, two other riders and I.
I was fairly happy with this set up as I knew all the technical sections were still ahead and at that pace there were certain to be casualties due to over extension. However for me it was not to be… as we sliced through a fast grassy corner sitting in second wheel I clipped an unsighted rock with my pedal which high-sided the bike sending me on my face tangled in a mass of carbon fiber. Not sure how it happened but probably every mechanical part that could move, adjust or bend did just that. Also in my fall I managed to bruise and twist almost every part of my body in some way or another. Continuing wasn’t possible unfortunately and I had to abandon which was a very disappointing end to a day which I had high hopes for.
Big congratulations to my team mates finishing up 3rd, 5th and 6th as well as Multigirl winning the elite woman’s category!  It was great to be able to take part in a race and a series that is so close to home and with such a high level of competition! Looking forward to round 2 in a few weeks at Teak place, this time I will hope to keep the rubber side down!!
See you on the trails! PC

Friday, 24 June 2011

Rietvlei XC National #4 2011

19 June 2011
Well it has almost been a year since my last cross country event and to be honest was not really a focus for me this year but with having a national practically on our door step it was too intriguing to turn away. The week leading up to the event I got to host the multi-talented Eszter at my house and we went and did a few practice laps during the week prior to help us be sure we knew what we were in for.
The course was quite different than last year and while only offering one quick climb there was a lot of flat twisty off camber sections that kept one continuously on your toes. The lap finished off through the vlei area which thankfully was very smooth and good for our hard tail Volcans but challenging with a lot of unsighted turns and leaving one very exposed to the JHB south winds.
There was good elite turn out which was nice to see and at 12:00 we set off at a pace which was rather a rude awakening! I finally settled down and sucked back in my lungs which temporarily I found laying on my handlebar. I got on the accelerator where I could find traction and through the tech zone and short climb I was hot on the heels of the group competing for 3rd spot. However it was not to be as my horsepower was out matched by pure xc skill and although I made good head way into the chase group every lap I was lacking in the twisty bits and that podium spot became a carrot that I was just not able to catch.
I finished up 6th behind 5 young xc specific athletes all with good pedigree and hats off to them for some great aggressive racing. I was very pleased with my lap times having my start lap and last lap identical in time and 5 of the 7 laps within a few sec of each other. The good news is that I was very happy with the engine, feels as though both of my diesel cylinders are firing and it gives me quite a bit of confidence going into the next set of races.
Well next week is the first of the Nissan series where I'll be roll’n with the rampaging Rwandan hoping we can mix things up amongst all the big wheels!
Till then, rubber side down.
Paul Cordes
MTN/Qhubeka mtb team
Photo credit: CSharp photography

First Ascent Big Induna Ultra Marathon 2011

Last Friday morning bright and early I headed down to Cassa de Sol near Hazyview with my new team mate Jacques Van Rensberg for the Big Induna challenge. There we met up with Club 100 members who were having their annual lowveld training camp as well as a few of my other MTN/Qhubeka team mates. After a quick lunch we geared up and led the club for a nice “rolling” ride up towards Sabie and back which was a great way to meet a lot of the club members and talk a bit of shop and get involved in some fun cyclist banter. That evening we all had a nice dinner then turned in early as we all knew what was in store for us tomorrow!!!!
It was an early morning but I was very thankful for the weather as it was quite warm in Induna especially after the freezing cold that we came from in Gauteng. The field and overall attendance of the race was a little disappointing but keeping in mind that the event had a gap year last year I’m sure it will grow again in the near future. The pace was fair in the first 40km and I stayed near the front so not to lose time in the concertina effects of racing as well as not to get caught out in any of the numerous single or quad bike track sections scattered throughout the course.
After the first tech zone the race all of a sudden got serious and inevitably it was Max Knox who put in a huge surge up one of the biggest climbs of the day where there was only one rider managing  to mudflap behind him. I consolidated my pace and soon joined forces with Ben-Melt to set a steady tempo through the mid section of the lap to shake off all the other riders as well as bring back all but Max out front. I did go off course momentarily but was nothing too dramatic and didn’t really make any difference to my race (the next lap the marshals had kindly bunted off that turn (-;).
I came into the 78km tech zone in second together with HB Kruger and now with a slight gap to Ben-Melt who lost contact in the last couple kilometers. Up the next climb I felt good but still tried to keep a consistent pace and ride my race. This was enough to drop HB and open a nice gap until I hit a “dark” area. Double punctured both my legs, lost the music in my head and slipped into survival mode and had the passing of HB make me feel like that was the least of my worries. I hit back some sugar and thankfully just over 10km later I came out of my slump and was able to get back on the accelerator. It was too late to reconcile my earlier placing but I was still very pleased to finish 3rd on the day and climb up on that podium! 5hrs23min, 2400m asc and 125km of great mountain biking in a very well organized event is probably more than anyone in our sport could ever ask for!!
I was very happy with my climbing and feel like I am riding well at the moment and the training has been going very well (in between being sick but I guess that is usual for Highveld winter). Next on the calendar will be a brief return to xc racing after a year away at Rietvlei Zoo farm then to Hazeldean for race1 of the Nissan series which I’m sure is going to be flat, fast and furious!!
Notable new products for the weekend were the new bottle cages from Elite which were fantastic! Big improvement thanks very much. I also rode a new full carbon saddle from Fizik which offered me a little more suspension which was great for 5.5hrs of hardtail racing!