Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek 2012 - Yolande Speedy

I can't believe 7 days of racing are over and I'm already sitting writing my race report!

Normally I would not be racing at this time of year, taking a break before building for the next race season. However having missed a lot of racing this year recovering from my wrist injury, with the new opportunity of partnering with Yolande de Villiers and offering to sponsor our entry I jumped at the chance to ride my first Cape Pioneer.

With Oudtshoorn being one of our favourite riding destinations Paul took the opportunity to come with, support  for a few days, get some good riding in and visit our friend Geoff the Aussie in Uniondale :). We set off for Oudtshoorn the Friday before stopping in Colesberg overnight and arriving early Saturday afternoon.
After registration Paul and I went to recce the 15km prologue route. It started with around 8km of's  super fun XC style trails and ended with a loop on Buffelsdrift Game Reserve. My legs felt a bit rusty at first after the long trip but soon loosened up and I was looking forward to a good week of racing.


With a 2:13 pm go time we were able to have a nice relaxed morning before pedaling out to the start which served as a good warm up for the time trial effort to come.
The route being technical with lots of slippery gravel corners our strategy was to play it safe not taking any risks and getting through rubber side down. We set off at full throttle the first steep climb giving our lungs and legs a good stretch and maintained a hard but controlled pace throughout the 15kms crossing the finish line with our goal achieved my Conti tires gripping up nicely on the loose surface.
Just under 2 minutes later Team Bridge-Bizhub; Ischen Stopforth and Catherine Wiliamson crossed the line with a 1 second advantage on us. 1 second... I still can't believe it was that close!

Having done a lot of stage racing I know how important recovery for the next day is and had my @USNSA Recovermax and some lunch whilst we sat watching the Elephants drink from the dam. I then headed for a massage and prepared for the next day.

Stage 1: Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp, 103km, 1750m

After a good meal, talking tactics with Yolande and organizing all my kit and equipment I headed for bed excited to start the first stage.
The stage included some fast flowing jeep tracks and amazing single-track sections through the Karoo with stunning  views of the Red Stone hills.

After a short neutral section the pace picked up and we dropped off the main bunch settling into a steady pace. Ischen slowed up to wait for Catherine who had some technical issues with her bike and we took an early lead.  Around 45-50km into the stage we entered single-track where Team Bridge-Bizhub caught and passed us. Little did we know how lucky we were as further back in the field a group of riders coming through this section were met and attacked by a huge swarm of angry bees. Thanks to Drylands quick response in evacuating the riders that were severely stung to hospital and re-routing the remaining riders, all riders were treated safely and reinstated into the race as soon as they had recovered.

Hitting a bit of a low after the single-track we nursed ourselves to water point 2 but after replenishing our bottles and taking in a @USNSA Vooma Gel we recovered and had a stronger finish. Crossing the line in 2nd we were just under 8minutes behind the leaders but happy with a good day's riding and really enjoyed the route!

The rest of the day was spent focusing on recovery and preparing for the hill climbing that we would face in stage 2.

Stage 2: Calitzdorp-Swartberg Pass, 85km, 2800m

This was a tough day of racing the stage ending with the 9km, 1100m climb up the Swartberg pass where the winning team provided they stay competitive for the remainder of the race would walk away with a generous R100 000!

Team Bridge-Bizhub took an early lead and we kept a steady pace on the climbs trying to minimize the time gap. Yolande and I are both really competitive and would never give up hope of taking over the lead but I must admit Ischen and Catherine are a strong team with loads of experience racing together and at this stage I was starting to feel quite out-matched!

The first half of the race was quite slow going and it seemed like an eternity before we reached the base of Swartberg pass! Having ridden it often in training camps I knew it well and prepared myself mentally for the challenge.. It was great to see @PCordesracing supporting us at the spectator point 4kms from the top and spurred us on :). We finally crested the top again in 2nd place and now a total of 18minutes26sec behind Team Bridge-Bizhub.

From the top we cruised down to Prince Alfred, our home for the night and once again started with our post race recovery routine.

Stage 3, Prince Albert- De Rust, 109km, 1750m

The start along the 'flat' 30km district road section was pretty relaxed no one wanting to set the pace up front which made for a rather large and sketchy peloton and a few big crashes! I tried to stick closer to the front and when the bunch finally surged and split found myself together with Catherine our partners both further back in the 2nd group. I hung back waiting for Yolande and Ischen passed pushing hard to catch the front group. Yolande had been caught behind another crash but soon we were together and paced ourselves back taking the women's lead just as we turned onto the first rough, sandy jeep track section where the group quickly fragmented.

We found ourselves pretty much alone as we made our way across the flat Karoo heading towards water point 1 which was at a farm house and from where we would almost double back towards the first climb of the day.  I set a hard but steady pace in front and we saw Team Bridge-Bizhub coming in as we  headed out, a nice 2 or so minute lead. Reaching the top of the climb still in first place I knew we had a good chance of taking a stage win if we could maintain our pace.

Heading towards water point 2 the sky looked ominous and soon the heavens broke lose forcing us to negotiate through a torrential downpour with strong headwinds, rivers forming down the gravel roads and even hail. Ouch! We were glad when we finally reached the amazing, flowing single-track that would lead us into Meiringspoort and we sped towards the finish catching the 3rd mixed team of Jenny and Craig along the way. Turning onto the pass we hit a headwind that almost forced me backwards! Luckily it wasn't long before a few teams caught us and we formed a high speed train with Craig showing us his roadie skills and pacing like a machine in front.

Soon we were in De Rust and heading up the last tar climb to the finish banner, I was now super freezing and it couldn't have come soon enough!

The joy of winning the stage outweighed the extreme cold I now felt as we waited to see how much time we had made up... 6:01 minutes

A hot shower and cup of coffee was all I could think of and I was very grateful to find both plus a nice afternoon spent chatting to Paul before he headed off back to Uniondale and home the next morning

Stage 4: De Rust-Herold, 64km, 1650m

So it was now with a deficit of 12:25 minutes that we headed into stage 4 to face the infamous kamanassie mountains.

This was the shortest stage but by no means the easiest with really rough rocky terrain it would be a test of both riders and equipment. Ischen was unfortunately not feeling well; we were starting to get stronger each day and I feel it would have been a good battle for each stage! We took an early lead on the first climb, kept it steady up the Kamanassie and took no chances on the steep descent into the valley. The route then zigzagged across the valley floor with numerous river crossings till we reached the climb out the other side. The climb out was incredibly rocky and steep forcing us to walk sections when we lost traction. Reaching the top and looking across the amazingly beautiful and unspoiled valley I was reminded how lucky we were to have the opportunity to ride through it!

After the steep descent out of the reserve we had 15kms to go which we had been told in race briefing were a breeze. Maybe our legs were just tired but I tend to disagree... there was still a fair amount of climbing and it was tough going to the finish at Louvain guest farm! I must say though that the race organizers did a great job on the stage taking us over some of the toughest terrain but making the route shorter and manageable for all levels of riders to enjoy.

We again crossed the line in 1st place taking another good bite out of our time deficit :)

Stage 5: Herold-George, 73km, 1700m

Rain through the night meant that the organizers had to cut out the planned 15km loop around Louvain and delayed the start by an hour. We quickly joined the queue for coffee after hearing the news and it was sitting huddled together in the main tent drinking it that I heard the heart stopping news from a fellow rider that my rear rim was cracked! What were the chances that someone spotted it and we had enough time to change wheels, what a lucky break! Thanks @Petro_Lab for lending me your wheel and Solly for expertly and calmly getting my bike race ready! Another thanks to @Swenlauercom for the bearing I never got to test!
With the first loop cut out of the race we started straight up the first big climb, the pace high from the start. We again took an early lead and pushed hard throughout the stage to try make up the 5:03 mins we still needed. I must admit this was one of my toughest days, my legs feeling the previous days of hard racing. I was quite grateful when we crossed the line and realized I needed to get in as much recovery as possible for the remainder of the day.

Our efforts paid off though as we managed to make up our time deficit and get a whopping 57sec into the lead... the next stage would be the decider and we knew we'd have to make it count!

Stage 6: George- Oudtshoorn, 84km, 1580m

Waking up to pouring rain I was struggling to find motivation for the stage and even getting to wear the race leaders jersey was not helping!

Fortunately the rain stopped long enough for us to have a dry start and soon we were on our way.
The first 20km included the climb up Montagu pass and reaching the base of it after the first climb and single-track Ischen and Catherine were hot on our  tail. We set a fast pace, Yolande having found her climbing legs! In fact so much so I had to ask her to take the pace down a notch so I could recover! It paid off though and by the top we had a 1:30 minute lead. We reached the top with a couple of teams including the 3rd mixed team and along the next rolling section caught the Tigers (leading mixed team). This worked out well as the pace was kept really high with no team wanting to give the other the lead. After passing through Chandelier I was still feeling strong and took the lead for the last 10km of rolling jeep track pulling as hard as my legs would allow. Reaching the last few kilometers of tar up through Oudtshoorn to the finish Yolande surged to the front and we crossed the finish line ecstatic that we had kept the leaders jerseys and having had a super fun 7 days of racing!!! Congrats to Team Bridge-Bizhub for their 2nd and Sarah van Heerden and Jackie Church taking 3rd!

We were welcomed by and even popped some champagne to celebrate :)
A big thanks to's MD's Johan Stumpf and Charl Du Plessis for making our participation in the event possible and a big congrats to them for a strong ride finishing 3rd in the Amateur Teams!

Thanks so much to Henties for all the support along the way, allowing us not to sweat the small stuff!!
And to Yolande de villiers for a great partnership, great race and all the memories I will take with me.

Another to all my sponsors for making it possible to race and to do it well; @EpicSportsCycleShop , GT, Giro, @USNSA, @Cycleops_JHB, Rudy project, F-Tech, Continental tires, squirt and @PYCycling.

And last but not least to all the event organizers and sponsors for an amazing 7 days of racing with fantastic routes show casing the most scenic countryside and best trails the Karoo has to offer, campsite venues that make sense and run like well oiled machines and a fantastic atmosphere from start to finish! I certainly hope to return next year and highly recommend the event to everyone that loves our sport of MTBiking!

Till next time, take care

Photos by Karin Schermbrucker from

Monday, 22 October 2012


Waking up at 05:30am and only having to drive +- 45 min to get to a race was a welcome relief as the previous weekend we had to get up at 3am to leave at 4am for the Crater Cruise in Parys.   On our way to Van Gaalens we found ourselves surrounded by hundreds of road cyclist, doing the Best Med Jacaranda Satellite challenge, creating a sort of traffic jam.

We finally arrived at Van Gaalens, as we entered the parking area we bumped into OB and Dries on their way to the EPIC SPORTS Tech Zone and Water point – my sister Edelè joined them to help them at the EPIC SPORTS water point.

The Half Marathon race started at 08:20am.  The eager juniors started to line up at 07:40.  Marcel Marais (@PYcyling) and Werner van Heerden (Team Jeep) joined me at the start chute where the atmosphere was relaxed. After the briefing everybody got focused and the countdown started.  

 My start was crazy, within the first 200 meters I swung out for a tree trunk and not checking my blind spot I collided with Werner!  Likely we both managed to stay upright.  We then hit the jeep track; Nicholas Poppich went to the front and put in a hard effort to break away. The first 10km was tough on me, my legs struggled to “wake up”. I found myself with all the “old oomies”.   By the look of things I thought this is going to be a crappy race for me. I had a small mental battle with myself but decided to push on and get to the chasing group.

I reached the 1st water point and here we were directed up a really steep climb.  After I dragged myself over the steep climb, I started the downhill section. Reaching the bottom I was back on track and re-joined the chasing pack. We kept going at a steady pace and my legs finally “woke up”!!
PJ Luus pulled a gap on me and Marcel after the first downhill and singeltrack section, Marcel sitting on the front kept a steady pace trying to reel PJ in, slowly but surely.

We reached the final water point and tech zone were the Epic Sports Team was doing a great job. A huge thanks to the Epic guys and the girls who cheered us on.

Entering the singletrack , the guys set off to tackle the final 10km.  We exited the single track and Sheldon Dagley set off to catch PJ Luus.  I followed and sat on his wheel.  Entering the bush tunnel myself and Sheldon made our move on PJ Luus and managed to pass him 3km from the finish.  Riding really hard, myself, Sheldon and Neil Roberts shot through the bush tunnel and ended up sprinting to the finish.

 I ended up finishing 5th in the Half Marathon – Junior Men. I’m really happy with this result as it is my best of the NISSAN Trailseeker series after a very disappointing Down and Dirty race.

Van Gaalens is a tough race!!!!!  The climbs, the downhill sections, the single tracks and everything in between kept us on the edge.

I want to say a very big thank you to Paul and everyone for their support and well done Marcel Marias(@Pycycling) who finished in the Top 10 - Junior Men.  Great race by Dylon Rebello (asg) finishing 1st, 2nd Nicholas Poppich and 3rd Werner van Heerden (Team Jeep).  Well done to Amy MacDougall, Angie de Boer and Arno du Toit(@Pycycling) and all the other Epic Sports Club members who did the 70km and 45km.  You raced hard and done good!!


Nissan #4 – Van Gaalens Cheese Farm - Amy McDougall

I was very excited for this particular leg in the series; the trails built by Erik Scheeper at Van Gaalens Cheese farm are top class! Being a technical course with steep climbs, rocky descents and single track played to my advantage, as that is where my strengths lie. Besides that, it quite plainly meant that lots of fun was to be had, for the racing snake and weekend warrior alike!

I was racing for the first time in my new team kit, Bryton USN and the second time on my 29er. I will still be with Ballistic Bike Trading for 2013, but instead of being team Decca Ghost, I’ll be team Bryton USN and I’ll be on the little Ghost with big wheels (a 2013 Carbon Ghost 29er).

Standing on the start line, I saw my competition: Samantha Sanders and Theresa Ralph, neither of whom I have beaten before. I was feeling strong and fast on the big wheels; I was keen to see how I would fare against them on this course!

The first 7 km is pretty flat with a few sandy and stony patches before the start of the killer climb, “Concrete hill”. I managed to pass a lot of guys up the technical and steep sections, and caught sight of Theresa towards the middle of the climb. I kept her in my sights until the technical descent, where I managed to pass her in one of the splits in the trail. I rode as fast as I could through the single track to get a gap on her and stayed in first place for about 22km. I was digging deep to keep my first place, but she was bearing down on me on the on the open roads. She caught me on a grassy flat and gained another gap before the biggest, most technical downhill, where I again managed to pass her in a split in the trail.

Flying down the rocky descent was so much fun, the big wheels coasting over the rocks. I had gained a good gap on Theresa by the time we were out and back on to the flats. I was digging deep again on the next section of road, keeping a high cadence and trying to keep my lead, but Theresa caught me at about 35km and I couldn’t stick her wheel; she is so strong on the flats!

The climb up to the church was painful and seemingly never-ending, but the awesome downhill single track totally made up for it! (I’m sure anyone who has ridden there can relate!) As if that wasn’t awesome enough, the race went through the river single track section, over a few bridges, onto some more undulating single track where the 40km riders rode parallel to us. This confused me and resulted in me getting a little lost (my bad). Luckily I found myself; I lost a few minutes but not my position, thank goodness. Through the reeds we sailed and out onto the grass and to the finish.

The little Ghost with big wheels was smooth and quick through the single track, my USN Vooma gels, Epic pro and Sprint energy drink kept my energy levels up throughout the race. Good nutrition, coaching from Paul Cordes and a light, well looked-after racing bike were essential to my good result.

I was very happy with my second place to Theresa and it was great racing so close with such a seasoned and experienced racer. The trails built by Erik and marked out by Tim Fair and the guys from Advendurance were superb. Much effort was put into the water points, marking of the trails and preventing bottle necks by creating splits in the technical section,s and separating the riders into parallel single track where possible. I felt this was a PROPER mountain biking race in the best mountain biking area that there is in close proximity to PTA and JHB.

Next up: Nissan Trailseeker #5, Hakahana; the final leg of the 2012 Nissan Trailseeker series.
Until then, later!
Amy Beth

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Crater Cruise - Arno du Toit

After some awesome riding and a fun-filled weekend at Mankele with the Epic Sports wolf pack, it was time to start planning for the big dash for cash, the final leg of the 2012 MTN and Nissan National series, Crater Cruise.

Marcel Marais and I decided to go on a roadtrip via Ficksburg, my home town, on Wednesday and then leave for Parys Friday morning with our bikes, a tent, a kettle and a box of oats.

As we arrived the weather suddenly changed and it was soon cold, wet and really windy. Just then Marcel realised that he didn't pack any tent pegs. So after sorting out our entries and searching for a outdoor shop to buy pegs (which we still haven't found), an old tannie at a fishing store could sort of help us, but we still had to pitch our tent in the rain. I'm sure there's no better way to kick off a weekend.

Saturday morning in the start chute for the 106km ultra marathon I had flashbacks of my first day in high school, jitte! The best of the best in South African cycling was there ready to dish out a lot of pain. It was no time to be scared though, so I put on my big boy pants and went all in. Unfortunately I could only mix it up with the big guns for the first 40km or so. At the halfway mark I was in a group with Gawie Combrink, Jacques Rossouw, Dave Morrison and a few other riders, just hanging on to the top 15 at that stage.

The rest of my race was really nothing to get excited about. After hitting the wall a few times and having to dig really deep just to reach the finish line, I ended up in 26th place. Not quite the result I was hoping for.

After completely losing my sense of humour on the ultra, I wasn't really eager for the half marathon on Sunday. Once again beer solved the problem...

Three minutes before start time I snuck into the tail end of a batch, still not convinced that I actually wanted to whack it with the juniors. I soon noticed Fritz was taking this very seriously and as the neutral zone ended I launched a proper attack on the tar road. Luckily I didn't really get away!

The real brake came at about 20km. We smashed it down a loose, rocky descent, and once again the Conti tires were bulletproof! I found myself in the lead group amongst six or seven others, all contributing to the pace-making.

Things started to heat up as we flew past the last waterpoint. I noticed a couple of passengers as we approached the final stages of the race. Ryan Gibbons attacked with about 2km to go and the two of us opened a small gap to the rest of the group. I waited for the perfect moment, took a big sip of Cytopower and then rode past him to take the win. Also a great effort by young Dylan Rebello taking 3rd. For me the victory was bitter-sweet. I never managed to win this event as a junior, some elite always spoiled it and this time round I ended up doing the same. Sorry!

Well done to the other PYCycling athletes, Marcel and Edwill both finishing in the top 10 junior men.

Till next time.

Crater Cruise - Amy McDougall

Being my first race, and second time on my new 29er, I was feeling quite anxious but excited to see what all the hype about big wheels is all about. If there was a perfect race to initiate the big wheels in, it was this one. Flat and non-technical riding is not my biggest strength, and with the infamous stretches of corrugated sand road, I knew I was in for a lot of pain. I had seen reports on twitter about it having hailed the day before, but luckily race day was perfect, not too hot with no dust and only one or two mud patches.

With a super early start, driving from Johannesburg, I was struggling to stay awake in the car; I was hoping I would snap out of it before the start of the gruelling 105km that lay ahead of me. True as Bob, the “red mist” came over about 15 minutes before the start and suddenly I was full of energy, race face engaged and ready to give it horns!

In the start pen I was standing amongst some of the best riders on South Africa: Kevin Evans, David George, Therisa Rahlf, Candice Neethling, James Reid, Brandon Stewert, Mariska Strauss, Adrien Niyonshuti, Phillip Buys, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Karien van Jaarsveld to name a few…
The start gun went off and we began the neutral zone which was about 11km and seemed to take forever! As soon as we reached the dirt, everyone zooted off at a crazy pace. I knew that if I went too hard in the beginning and bonked 50km in, it would be a disaster; so I followed the advice of my sponsor Jason Theunissen and coach, Paul Cordes and kept within my limits, I rode hard but paced myself which paid off in the end! 

I was lying in 6th place for the first half, with Therisa, Yolandi, Candice, Mariska and Karien ahead of me.
At +/- 50km in, I caught Karien, a good feeling considering her calibre and I have never been close to beating her in the past! I managed to stick with the bunch and was determined to pass her. After the half way mark, I snatched a lifesaving fresh bottle of USN Epic Pro from Jason. A few km later we reached an awesome single track section next to the river, the coolness of the shade and the enjoyment brought on a second wave. I passed Karien when she got stuck in a section of thick sand and used the single track to get ahead. Back on the district roads a few km later, I found Mariska Strauss in my sights, I closed the gap and latched on to the bunch, the pace was quick but sustainable, so I stayed there for a while. I saw an opportunity at the next single track section and got to the front so I could gain time in the technical bits where I do best. 

This pacing myself thing seemed to be working really well, my legs were hurting but I was getting stronger as time went by and the kilometres on my Bryton Rider 40 were ticking away quickly. I was alone for most of the last 20km and pushed as hard to keep the gap on the other two. After a long section of corrugated road, some tar, and then grassy dual-track we reached a short steep climb that is basically just a big rock. More grassy dual track brought us over a railway where the finish was in sight. By this time I was ready for that finish line, my tank was now empty, so to speak. We went back over the railway, through about 5km of windy single track and through a farm to the finish.

I ended up with a fourth over-all in the ladies and third senior female. I’m really happy with this result as it is my best of the MTN National MTB series, I am closing the gaps with each race and have come a far way this year.

Even though the Crater Cruise is notoriously flat and corrugated, the big wheels made it a lot more comfortable and faster I’m sure... I usually prefer hilly technical races and the terrain of the Crater Cruise was not that exciting but I loved the speed and learnt a lot during this race, like how to pace myself and still finish with an empty tank, and that big wheels might just be the way to go, even for little people… But I will only make my mind up on that in about 2 weeks once I have experimented on all types of terrain, sounds like fun!!

Check out my ride here recorded with my Bryton Rider 40.
Next race is the Nissan Trailseeker #4 at Van Gaalens Cheese Farm.
Until then, later!
Amy Beth

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Marathon World Champs 2012 - Yolande Speedy

It's been just over a month since I received the exciting news from CSA that I had been selected to represent SA at the World Marathon Champs in Ornans, France.  Looking back on everything I'm happy to say it's been a good one :)

Just having come back from a disappointing SA Marathon Champs I sat down with my coach, mentor and inspiration @pcordesracing and we set about taking care of every detail for the best possible build up in the little bitty space of time remaining.

Together with a finely tuned and structured training program that had me in the hurt box on the finest climbs Pretoria has to offer; doing circles around our favorite speed session track, Pilditch; chasing wheels on EpicSport's Thursday afternoon technical outride or rather 'race' as well as a few sessions at the mercy of @francoiseberson sitting behind Sophia's wheel (his Vespa scooter) we started with cycling specific strength and core training that left me in all kinds of agony...

Fortunately @DimensionSport was always ready to come to the rescue with a welcome sports massage to revitalize my aching body and to continue with the rehabilitation for my wrist which I'm very happy to say is getting stronger and closer to its former self every day.
All this in combination with a strong focus on recovery and a healthy well balanced diet incorporating USN's advanced, all encompassing supplementation helped me to rebuild the final and yet most important component, my confidence which has taken a series of knocks this year.

After a full service from one of EpicSport's renowned mechanics my GT Zaskar 29er was pedaling like a dream and with a renewed sense of belief in myself we set off for France together with Nico Bell and Max Knox.

OB servicing the GT Zaskar 9r

Cycling SA took care of all our travel arrangements and admin requirements making it one of the best and well orchestrated race trips I have been on and again thanks to them for that and the funding that made it possible for me to go.

Arriving a week before the event allowed for a dedicated build up, preparing both physically and mentally.
Pre-riding the 1st 40kms of the course the Tuesday before gave me a good idea of what to expect and confirmed that we were in for a super tough World Champs especially if the predicted weather forecast of rain from Saturday evening held true! The women's 63km race which skipped out 22km of the men's consisted mainly of technical riding from steep rocky, muddy and rooty ascents to near vertical off-camber single track with 2300m of climbing.

The Race Profile

Sam Sanders joined us on Thursday evening and her and I went for a nice spin out ride on Friday viewing some of the historical sites in Besancon's old city and stopping for a cafe au lait at a French cafe. Just what was needed to calm the nerves that I could feel were starting to build up!

Sight seeing in Besancon

The following day we all headed to the course to register and do one last pre-ride on a section of the course to make a final tire choice and to know what was in store for the start or finishing kms.
With the prediction of rain most riders were opting for a knobbier tire. I decided to stick with the Continental X-King on the front and Race-King rear I had on running them quite soft for extra grip in the mud.

I spent the rest of the day doing final race prep, stretching and organizing race support.
Thankfully Simon came over to support Theresa Ralph and was quite willing to help Sam and I with bottles at the feed zone which would prove to be a life saver!

The rain started falling from early evening and I had a pretty sleepless night constantly waking up to hear it dripping from the rooftops and preparing myself more for the muddy conditions we would face.

The final hours and minutes before the race sped by; @Johnmark1001 helped me with strapping tape for my back, I forced down some coffee and oats, we packed the car, drove through to Ornans, did final race prep in the rain, watched the men's start which was 25mins before ours and headed for call up to the line.

Bang and we were off! The pace along the first rolling 8km was fast but not full throttle the wet, muddy conditions demanding full focus. With mud spraying up in all directions I was having to peer over my Rudy glasses to judge the wheel in front of me. I sat comfortably in the bunch though and thankfully avoided a couple of crashes that sent a number of riders scrambling to get back in the game.
Reaching the start of the first climb a rider fumbled in front of me and we lost contact with the front group, I got going again and settled into a fast yet maintainable rhythm up the steep rocky climb. I held my position and on the following technical descent picked up a number of places my XC skills coming into play and Conti tires gripping up superbly in the muddy conditions.
After the 5th water point 25km in I was lying just within the top 20 and pushed hard to catch more of the field.

Annika Langvad - Winner in the Woman's race

I was feeling strong and after taking a USN Vooma gel even stronger giving everything up to the top of the 2nd big climb which included a 650m 'portage' section up stairs onto the highest point of the course.
After a super fun single-track along the tops of the cliffs we dropped straight down an off-camber single-track that in the muddy conditions I didn't even attempt to ride. I went slip sliding down on my feet trying my best to gain traction on anything that looked remotely stable.
I made it down safely and going though the 40km water point thankfully took on a new bottle of USN CytoPower from Simon.

The biggest climbs of the day were now done but that made the last 23km no less challenging with crazy muddy jeep track, shorter steep climbs, off-camber single-track and thick clay mud that forced me to jump off my bike and run. I was very grateful for all the cross-training sessions as my legs felt good each time I started pedaling again after a portage section!

With 20kms to go I had caught another 4 riders and gave everything to keep my position hoping to reel in more but despite giving my all could not close the gap. Happily my GT Zaskar 29er handled like a dream thus far and continued to do so to the finish. I had no technical issues, my gears shifting well throughout the race despite all the thick clay mud that kept accumulating. The last 10kms had some of the slowest going sections through thick mud with lots of portage and ended with a rough, rocky downhill section leading down onto the tar and into the finish straight which admittedly I was very grateful to see!

Crossing the line I knew I was top 20 but as they had no idea where I had finished as riders from the women's, men's race and amateur race were all finishing together. it was only later that I heard I was top 15, a result I was very happy with and one I am excited to improve on in the future.

Now to recover and prepare for my next challenge, Cape Bridge Pioneer with Yolandi de Villiers.

Till then take care,

For full results on the Marathon World Champs 2012 follow the link -

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Winning the SSWC 2012 - Amy McDougall

(photo taken from Amy's blog on

Congratulations Amy on Winning the SSWC 2012!!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Mankele 3 Towers - Paul Cordes

The past couple of weeks has been quite eventful for the Pycycling gang! The action started last weekend with Amy winning the Single Speed World Champs and earning herself the famous tattoo “trophy” but she will tell us all about it in a separate insert.

To start with last weekend several of our riders packed in their camping gear and headed down to the Isuzu 3 Towers stage race. There were 2 events over the 3 days, firstly the race where there were 2 days of 80km racing and then the Challenge which the first 2 days were 40km stages but both ending with a 50km day 3.

I teamed up with Arno for our 2nd stage race together with a goal of top 5 overall. This event is fairly technical which we felt suited us well. The organizers put huge effort into building and maintaining amazing trails around the area which is a great test for both man and machine. During this event one is forever diving into some amazing little bush tunnel or a beautiful piece of forest single track and I was thankful for Rudy Project glasses being photo chromatic so I could see perfectly in this ever changing environment. What they also have at their disposal are climbs – kilometers and kilometers worth!!! Somehow I managed to forget about these from the past but after day 1 I was reminded of what was really going to make the racing.

We rode nice and steady throughout the 3 days and kept very consistent but just lacked the punch to truly mix it with the top guys. We finished 5th behind Gawie and Phillip which we felt was a pretty good effort. Have to say that our USN supplements did their job and I am always so grateful that they have such a wide range to rely on to get us through all the phases of mtb racing!

Our other members had some great success as well and I was very proud of our elite ladies Angie and Petru who were doing their first ever stage race and managed a very creditable 3rd place overall. Then our junior mixed team of Marcel and Jessica (@slab) finished 2nd in the Challenge which was also a fantastic effort! Vet racer Francios led his team mate through the mountains for a fantastic 3rd in cat. And our “dads” team finished their first ever stage race making their own personal goal which was exciting to see!

Other parts of the country we had Catherine Colyn getting a double podium down in the cape at the Engen Dynamic Cycle Challenge on both the mtb and road race. She won both of her events as well as a very high overall finish position. We have been seeing a steady improvement from her this season which has been very exciting!

Amy headed to Voriberg where she took 1st lady and 4th overall showing again her good form!

Then Yolande after being selected only a few weeks ago to race in the World Marathon Champs giving her very limited preparation time headed over to France with the S.A. team to have some fun in the mud!! She did fantastically finishing 13th in the world (only 1 place off her pb) proving that she still is a huge force to recon with both in xco as well as xcm! It was a relief to me to hear that despite the mud her GT Zaskar ran perfectly and the Conti X-Kings kept her upright which is always first prize! I think Yolande and I can be very crateful for our CycleOps Powertaps so we could really put in some much focused training making the very most of our time to get into some great shape!

We are super proud of every ones performances this past weekend and look forward to a lot of exciting racing to come!

Next weekend we will have a few of our riders down at the Crater Cruise as well as Neville and Yolande will be racing at the Cape Pioneer Trek and wish them all the best of luck!!

Till then keep the rubber side down!


Big 5 plus 1 MTB Super Series 2012 (Event #3) Babbas Lodge: 35km: 30 September 2012 - Edwill O'Neill

On Sunday I ended up going out to Bultfontein with Ben to do the Babbas Lodge #3 race. We decided to hit the road to Babbas on our mountain bikes.

Ben and I left early morning in some chilly spring weather for Babbas. Geared up we hit the road from Centurion to Babbas Lodge, an estimated 45km. We started out nice and easy. Well, it felt nice and easy at the time. We wasted a little time by stopping at a garage to check out an Audi R8… not a good idea but we just had to check out this supercar. Because of the stop at the garage we eventually found ourselves under pressure, and the nice and easy ride to Babbas ended up a fast and furious ride to make it to the start in time.

We just made it… two minutes before the race started Ben and I lined up at the back and off we went.
It was not my intention to race this race, but to take it relatively easy as a good training ride. We just rode at a nice, easy pace. However, as we hit the 1st climb I managed to climb it pretty well and as I reached the top of the climb I broke away from the group.

The initial plan of having a chilled ride for some reason didn’t happen; I started to pedal hard till the end and finished 1st in the Junior Men category and 1st overall… an unexpected win after a looooong, warm ride of +- 45km to Babbas.

I enjoyed the route. There had been a few changes to the route from the last time I was there, one or two technical climbs, some awesome single tracks and then as always LOTS of soft sand! One thing about a Babbas race: it’s fast and hard.

All in all ben and I had great fun! What a ride!

Thank you Reginald for giving us a lift back to Centurion in the Vito… a life saver!