Monday, 29 August 2011

More Building and a Gravel Travel by ys

It’s been a really good month following Paul’s return from the UK where he took on the rider manager role supporting Adrien at the Olympic test event in London.

Leaders jerseys

He returned with a renewed sense of the technical skills real XC MTB courses require and we have since been spending a lot more time on the Volcans working on our efficiency and handling. As you would have seen in an earlier post he even got me to ride the GIGANTIC (ok slight exaggeration but that’s how it felt to me the first time!) gap jump at the MTN bike park, a momentous step forward for me. After the shaking subsided from my first successful attempt it suddenly became easy and made me realise even more how much of a head game these things are! I must say though that being able to ride over obstacles greatly improved my technical skills in that I’m able to see and take different lines riding a lot smoother at the same time..... Very grateful to Paul for helping me to overcome my initial fear!

Besides a bit of a set-back last week caused by a seasonal bug and a short course of antibiotics to rid it from my system my training has been going a lot better the last 3 weeks, I’ve felt a nice improvement in my endurance and strength and I’m finally able to join Paul for some of his longer rides albeit that I’m sitting wheel for the majority especially with the very windy conditions we have been experiencing the last few weeks! #freeridemuchappreciated!

These two factors mean that I'm starting to feel like a cyclist and more importantly a Mountain biker again and I was looking forward to travelling down to the Cape for MTN Gravel Travel, my first marathon race back.

Some handy work

In addition to the training and focus on race preparation Paul and I have been keeping up with our goal to complete some long term home improvements the latest project being the installation of 4 beautiful Oregon pine doors Paul had made into our passage way.
I “started” the project by dragging out the frames from the garage and dusting off the numerous cobwebs whilst Paul was away but it took a further 2 weeks to complete the project which involved; having the doors installed, applying Woodoc, taking the doors off and outside to prevent further Woodoc fume intoxication, sanding 1st layer, removing splinters from hands and fingers, applying 2nd coat of Woodoc whilst Paul expertly installed the locks and handles (tough and intricate work as they had to be fitted from scratch through the solid Oregon frame), reinstalling the doors and finally getting sandblasted glass cut and securing it into the frames.
Tough but satisfying work! Add to our passage 2 box canvas pictures I had printed and voila our passage had its long awaited face lift!

concocting big plans!

Back to the racing...
We left with the team from Epic Sports in the VW crafter on Thursday morning from Epic Sports for an Epic and painful (sit bone wise) 1 day journey to the Cape.
We arrived late that evening, awoke to steady rainfall which served well to make the race course surface optimal and started Friday slowly getting in as much recovery time as possible. I prepared for the next day’s racing with a good roller spin and later short ride to the race venue with PC to double check the Volcan’s were race ready.

Final touches for a faultless ride!

With not much intensity training and no racing in my legs I lined up at the start with no idea of how the race would pan out for me.

Queen of the Mountain was at 7.5km into the race and with a uphill start the pace was pretty intense. Sticking with the leading group of 3 ladies proved a bit too much for me and my legs forced me to drop back and recover. I found my rhythm, started feeling strong on the climbs, with my X-King, Race-King tire combination flowed smoothly through the single-track and started working my way through the ladies field. 

An hour and a half into the race I caught Ischen and after a bit of cat and mouse we could see Leana who was leading at that stage up the road. We were all together for a short stretch until I got a gap up one of the short, steep climbs. I stretched my lead to just over 2 minutes by tech point one but lacking the intensity of racing in my legs started to fade with around 15kms to go. Ischen caught me and pulled ahead on the next long drag, I kept a steady pace but could not respond. 

Great pics from the heli - Z Conje!

I finished in 2nd happy with my result and form at this stage of my recovery. I feel with a another month of good focused training and some quality MTB technical practice I’ll be getting back on track to my former self this time with 2 legs, happy days!!

Congrats to Ischen for a strong ride and deserved win and to my @TeamMTNQhubeka team mates for their fantastic results in the Ultra!

Thanks to all my sponsors @TeamMTNQhubeka, Andre- @EpicCycleShop for the great support and to Advendurance for a super MTB course and event!

Next week we race the Nissan Cornwall Hill marathon

Hope you enjoyed the post

Take care, Yolande

thanks Zoon Cronje for the pics

Gravel Travel and road trip'n with MTN/Qhubeka by pc

Race ready

Hi all, last weekend I headed down with the rest of my MTN/Qhubeka team mates to the 6th leg of the MTN National Ultra-Marathon series and here is some of our weekends story: Firstly as far as the course, marking and organizing went it was probably one of the nicest events we have been to this year so hats off to the organizers! Diemersfontien is such a great venue for an event and also holds great memories for Yolande and I as this was where we started our pursuit of the 2010 ABSA Cape Epic title which is all but a bit of history now!

I had got in a good week of training but was coming off a course of anti-biotics which I was using to shake a bug from the previous weeks cold snap. I was feeling better every day so could only hope for the best and focus hard on the task at hand. We traveled down on the Thursday before leaving Epic Sports in pta at 5:30 and arriving in Wellington just after 22:00 which was a mammoth drive before a race (my sit-bones are actually bruised!) which I haven't had to do in many a year.  Think we were all thankful for our new BlackBerry 9780 phones and MTN/Qhubeka contracts which get us busy during the drive as sing-a-longs seem to be something of the past!

Warming up the tires

Friday we woke up to some nice rain which worked well for race day making the surface perfect for traction and ensured almost no dust.Charles met up with us at the accommodation after spending a couple weeks at home in Cape Town giving us a full team for a change. I managed to get in a good roller-spin to stretch out my legs and Andre did the finishing touches on the Volcans. After reading the pre-race report which made the course sound as though we were in for a rocky rough ride I decided to race on the dual suspension which was ultimately a bad decision as most of the route although filled with patches of single track was quite smooth. On Saturday the start was slightly delayed while we waited for the helicopter and tv crew. This will probably be worth it due to the terrain and the footage they would have been able to get from the air.

Final podium

We started up the same climb as we did in the Epic last year but thankfully the pace was not too hectic for the first couple km. However KOM came at 7.5km where Adrien took the honors and from there it was race on. I lost contact from the front group on the climb but managed to get back up to them again on the technical bits. However the climbing out matched the downs and after a steady but frustrating ride I finished in 12th overall. The Team however did really well and our plan worked out for the most part. Jacques rode a smart race sitting in near the back of the bunch for the first half and then made his presence felt on the big climb of the day. Kevin Evans got a tiny lead on him up one of the last climbs and held it to the finish with Jacques finishing in a fantastic 2nd overall. Adrien and Charles had a solid race and rode well together both staying with each other till the finish ending up in 7th and 8th respectively.

CK KO'd!!

Yolande had a nice day and a great return to racing.The pace of the ladies was quick up the first climb and I think it took her a few km to burn off the cobwebs. After the queen of the mountain where she was around 6th she started reeling them in until she took the lead just before the halfway mark. She stayed in front for a while but Ishcen made a good come back and reclaimed the lead and line honors. Excellent return for Yolande and pretty much what I had expected and predicted at this stage of her recovery. I probably won't need to tell you what I predict for her for Hilton!! Now we are bundled in the Crafter for our day trip back to Gauteng.
Some extra delay!
 Next week we will have a full team racing in my back yard; Cornwall Hill for the next leg of the Nissan series.

Till then, all the best, PC 

thanks Zoon Cronje for the pics

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Team life, kids and the Gautrain by pc

Fly Volcan Fly!
It is always great to be home after a week away, fantastic to catch up with family and friends and restore ones daily routine. I really enjoyed London this time round and I guess we were very lucky to have missed all the riots, I’m sure it will all be back to normal soon enough though.
My first few days back took some adjustment as the long summer days of the UK gave me a virtual “jet-lag” when coming back home to find sundown before 18:00. I spent some time filling out post event questionnaires as well as a couple press releases, reports and articles. It is great to see how people have been learning more about project Rwanda as well as Adrien and his story. I have also received a lot of feed back from people who have watched the trailer on and cannot wait to see it when it is released as well as the cycling community’s response to this inspiring story.
BMX course at the MTN Bike Park
It was also back to work when we arrived from the minute we climbed off the plane. Yolande and family met us at the airport for a quick hello coffee before we rushed home for a quick shower. We left home with just enough time to make a turn past Epic Sports Cycle Shop where we quickly repacked Adrien’s bike, swopped his race wheels and threw in a few spares as he had to leave for Rwanda the following day.  We then raced through to Activeworx in Johannesburg for a team and feedback meeting. After this it was all the way back to Pretoria East to drop Adrien off at home and finally to make it to my daughter Kaitlyn’s swim class in the nick of time!
Swim class
Trouble with going way is missing out on my time with Kaitlyn so when I am here and she gets to come and visit me I always ensure to make the most of the time I have with her! The best news I have is that after almost 4 years she will finally be spending weekends and sleeping over at home again starting from her birthday on the 16th of September, I can’t wait!!
Training is back to normal and in my first few days back I did some field and power profile tests to see where I need to get to before the next set of races in about a months time. Inspired by the London XC I’ve been dragging Yolande to the bike park as well as on a few longer MTB rides which has been great. Yolande’s fitness is coming on well and she has slowly been finding her legs again. Today was fantastic as she busted out her “stripes” (I like to see it as a sign (-; ) It wont be long before she is back into racing and giving the girls stick at the front of the race!!

Feeling comfortable again in white

We also finally got to see the Gautrain in action from Pretoria to Johannesburg for the first time. Everyone has been waiting for this as it has promised to minimize traffic and be a cheaper option for everyday commutes. I think they have achieved that as we climbed on last Sunday together with hundreds of other joy riders to get our first feel of this first world development! The soccer world cup is now over a year gone but the country has benefited immensely from this event and this high speed train has to be one of the highlights!
Twisting me around her finger!
Well that is all for this week. I hope everyone is enjoying the good weather as we are! If you have a moment please remember to check out or have a look at the link on the top right of our page, lets make cycling benefit even the most under privileged! Thanks very much.

Monday, 1 August 2011

London Wrap by pc

At the moment while sitting in the lobby of the hotel having one last coffee I thought you would be interested about the race yesterday.

The great thing about being a rider/manager is that I get to experience all the emotions of those two roles wrapped up into one. I had already pre-packed all the equipment the evening before and even though I felt really organized I still went and rechecked it all! I headed to the track with all the equipment and our new camera crew while Adrien rested up in the hotel for a bit until taking a warm up spin over to the venue.

everyone represented in the feed zone

I setup the indoor trainer and went and filled the bottles and put them in the ice bucket as today the sun had come out and was perfect for a hard day of racing. I spent some time watching the woman's race before returning to our pit area, setting up Adrien on the trainer and ran through the course with him one last time so I was convinced we were ready.

Film crew never missing a moment

The press were all over the place; pictures, videos, BBC radio and the PA system were all excited about Rwanda's first Olympic MTB'er. It was then go time and as the riders fed into the warm up area I dragged all the equipment down to the feed zone with the help of Greg one of the movie crew who I recruited as pack mule for the day!

All organised!

Each rider was then introduced to the crowd individually and brought up to the line. They gave the 15sec to go call and you could feel the tension. Being a racer it felt as though I was on that line with Adrien and when the gun went off the crowd erupted into cheers! The pace of the start loop was frantic as the front contenders tested each other heading up to the first climb.

Now as hard as you prepare for a race, as good as your equipment is when it comes down to race day there is such thing as needing some luck. Adrien unfortunately got caught behind a couple riders who bobbled and spun out on the first climb allowing for the other side of the pack to slide on past.

This put him off but was quickly back in the fight and powering it up all the climbs! There was so much support out on course and it brought chills as people were encouraging Adrien by name (I was even cheered as his support - quite humbling). From the feed zone I could see the action in four different places around the course. Adrien's lap times were consistent and he was slowly reeling in riders on the climbs and holding his own on the tricky downs. This was all going well but his biggest problem of the day was that of Julien Absalon who was out to make a statement. Julien was on fire and as he ripped into the field it became just a question of how many riders he would catch on the 80% rule.

Julien ripp'n the legs off the start loop!

Adrien was pulled after 5 of 7 laps and in 35th position which is his best finish in an international so far. Good effort from him and one could see his confidence improving every lap. I am sure that with a good plan Adrien's dreams of Olympics - not just being a participant but finishing will become a reality!

New Team Rwanda kit

After a cool down and hordes of interviews we headed back to the hotel feeling quite satisfied. It has been a great week here in the UK and we have learnt a lot, met some new fiends, learnt some new skills and now in a couple hours heading home.

Quick chat with BBC Radio!

See you in 2012 London and thanks for a great event!