Monday, 28 January 2013

MTN National Marathon Barberton - Catherine Colyn

Finally it was time to start the season and put the legs to the test. With it being my first year junior I wasn't sure what the pace was going to be like or in what shape they would be.

I flew up from Cape Town to Jo'burg on Friday and lucky enough for me I had to study my biology on the flight and on the road trip to Barberton.  After the long road trip we finally reached the camp site but the work wasn't done, we had to pitch up our tents. Luckily we had Yolande who was a boss with the tent build unlike me...who is useless when it comes to tent building.

Morning of the race...surprisingly the nerves didn't kick in just yet but when we set up at the venue all that changed. Breakfast went down like nails. Standing at the starting line the nerves left me, felt like I was going to do one hard core huge group training ride. From the word GO we hammered it on the tar road, putting in some hard efforts to get the legs ready for the hard climb. On "the" climb I knew I had to use it to my advantage and started hammering it all the way up the climb and all the way through out the race.

Coming to the last kilometer of the race I was overjoyed because I knew it was a home run, coming around the field towards the finishing line I was able to finally throw my arms in the air and finish the race with a big smile on my face.

I personally think riding a 26er gave me an extra advantage on the climbs today and helped me to take win in the Junior girls and Overall woman.

Thank you for everyone's support today couldn't have done it with out you guys.

Want to say thank you to my team and all our sponsors for making this trip possible and giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams.

The Barberton Beast - Nicholas Popich

I stood on the start line for my first MTN Barberton Half Marathon with shaky legs hearing stories about the beastly climb just outside of the Neutral Zone. It was a rough week recovering from a bad crash and concussion at last weekend’s USN Cup #1. My expectations weren’t very high... never the less, we (me, Jacques Pretorius, Catherine Colyn and Michelle Benson) were prepared to challenge the Barberton Beast in our brand new a[s]g PY-cycling kit.

It was a relief to get the race started. Neutral Zone was warm up and mental preparation time for the climb to come. I’m glad I used my first High5 gel sachet in that time. Within the first 500m of the never ending 12km climb, four of us had already broken away. The three 29inch wheels started disappearing ahead of me. It is hard to keep your attention focused on riding in such pretty terrain when you are all alone in the Pine Woods of Barberton. Hoping and praying after every switchback that this would be the last, the High5 kicked in halfway up! Every sip made me feel stronger and I caught my first 29er at the top of the beast, moving into 3rd position. Happy to have made it to the top – Feeling sorry for my team mates making their way up!

The descent was some good hair raising fun. Stoking it down as fast as possible to make up as much ground as I could to stay ahead of the 29er’s with my tiny 26inch Pinarello. Staying focused and keeping your fingers on the brakes were of great importance! Never before have I come across downhills with 6 arrows pointing downwards (warning boards). It was a nice surprise finding the Epic Sports crew halfway giving some needed and appreciated support. Still in third and going strong. Without noticing, I emptied my bottle of High5 2:1 around 25km into the race and had a hot and thirsty mission to the finish. 

During the mission to the finish, the Beast provided us with some mud (which I got stuck in). Luckily I had some newly fitted Crank Brother egg beater 3 pedals and with no hassle clipped my SiDi’s back in after the muddy excursion. The Beast was a little gracious too, giving us river crossings to cool down the burning legs. Having an empty bottle caught up to me 10km from the finish and entering the last stretch of bumpy single track just made it worse. By 5km I had hit the wall. Hunger Knock! Sadly I lost my podium spot by a sip of supplement. Just shows how important it is to have enough to eat and drink during a race for sustained energy!

It ended as a great weekend with some good positions for the team (well done to Catherine with her win), some bad luck for others but still an enjoyable, yet short camping trip bonding with the new a[s]g PY-Cycling family. Thanks to ALL. Looking forward to and incredible year and tackling the XCO Provincials this coming weekend!

Nicholas Popich

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Another 04:00 am wake up - Arno du Toit

After yesterday's little Velo speed session, which some of us thoroughly enjoyed, it was time for a longer, easy day in the saddle according to the coaching panel: Paul and Yolande. I must admit, getting up before the sun is not my favourite thing in the world, but I like riding bicycles so I do it anyway!

As we met up with the rest of the wolf pack, I was surprised to see Amy there on time. (Jitte, glad I packed a rain jacket).

So, we hit the road towards Harties, or at least that's what we all thought, but after a democratic decision was made by Paul and himself, we went somewhere else. Somewhere Pretoria north / Brits / Hartbeespoort-ish… I'm not too sure where it was. The roads were dodgy, with loads of traffic. Not ideal. It was sad to see some motorists still not caring for us cyclists. Never the less, it was a bit more exciting than the normal route.

 About half way in, we had a quick stop for coffee at a garage, (somewhere). Paul almost lost his sense of humour when he discovered his 2nd puncture, which was also the 4th one in total for the group. Soon enough though, we were back on the bikes and off again. We headed back on familiar roads with a rather unpleasant headwind. 

There was some nice teamwork, with everyone taking turns in front, which made things a lot less painful than I thought it would be!

We ended our 4hr30min ride with an 80-85% tempo over Klapperkop and straight down to Bicccs for a few good cups of coffee.

Till next time
Ride safe!


Tuesday, 15 January 2013

"Bulletjie" Traning Session with the Velo Group - Edwill O'Neill

I woke up at 4am, feeling slightly dusty, but after my first cup of coffee I was ready to hit the road with the roadies (Velo Group) and the a[s]g PYcycling MTB group.

The morning conditions looked good, with just a light wind and a sky full of stars when I left home to meet Paul Cordes, Yolande Speedy, Arno Du Toit and Marcel Marais at the Engen in Pierre Van Rynneveld at 5 am.  

We rode at a nice chilled pace to loosen up our legs. We eventually reached the Engen on Hans Strijdom, where Amy McDougall, Francois Ebersohn, Neville Ackerman and the Velo group joined us. After 30 minutes of chilled riding along Hans Strijdom and onto Lynwood road, the adrenaline kicked in.  We took the Boskop road towards Cullinan and from there it was “all out”... full throttle! Myself, Paul, Francois, Yolande, Arno, Amy and Marcel, pedalled our bikes fast and hard and kept up with the front group of riders. I reached my Tempo (170 bpm) in the first 15 minutes. It was a great feeling; it felt like I was doing a stage race in the Tour de France .

The tough part of the ride came when it was my turn to sit in front and keep the pace. Half way through, I fell off from the leading group.  Marcel and I tried everything to stay with the leading group. We were struggling to maintain the power of the leading group, eventually we caught up with Amy and the three of us settled into our own pace-line until we reached Lynnwood Road and joined the rest of the group. Pauls words to us: “ if you let them put a 2 meter gap on you you’re going to fall off to the back”...true words!

Marcel and I thought our training for the day was done, but Nah! Paul had something else in mind... Muscle Tension training up Klapperkop! Ouch!

Just as I thought I was going to die we got the green light  from Paul to head off to our favorite meeting place, Bicccs,  where we had  our regular, well deserved coffee, breakfast and a good laugh.  Never a dull moment with the a[s]g PYcycling group!

Riding with the roadies was great fun!!!! A Few hours of pure pain!!!
This was a “bulletjie” of a training session!!


Sunday, 13 January 2013

Training Ride Update - Jacques Pretorius

When I woke up this morning it was very cold. It didn’t bother me since today is the first day we got to ride in our awesome new a[s]g PYcycling kit, with the confidence that cars will notice us in our bright new colours!

We went out on Delmas Road to do some tempo intervals. The head wind was killing us, but the thought of a tail wind home kept us going. After 30 minutes of hard tempo riding we turned back for our second tempo for the day, it was fast!! We then went to Bicccs to end our ride with what cyclists do best....... Drink coffee!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Kickin' Off 2013!! - Paul Cordes

ASG MTB Academy is underway!!

After months of work and preparation the new season is finally here!! It has been an amazing run into this season with so much support and excitement from sponsors and athletes alike. We just want to say once again a big thank you to all involved for making this happen and we look forward to working together though out the next season!

The ASG academy team is finalised and it is fantastic to see all the athletes putting in such big effort and dedication into their training. The new F-Tech kit will be arriving shortly bringing together the unity of the all the members and we can’t wait to see everyone in action in the first event later this month.

Several of the older riders recently came back from a training camp in Oudtshoorn which was hosted at CangoMTB. 32hrs of riding and 13000m climbing later is what was on the program over the 7 days (one being a rest day) and everyone definitely needed to bring their “big boy” pants. This was the perfect way to get everyone into routine and focused on their goals to come. It was also a nice way to put the new ASG Team trailer through its paces and even though it is not complete it is certain to do a great job for us throughout the season.

With cycling safety on everyone’s mind, we are pleased that our academy as well as club kit is in fluo colors ! Not to mention our Rudy Project glasses and helmets to match! It is far safer to be seen both on the road and on the trails. We also urge everyone to be safe when on the bikes, and to practice proper rules of the road. We cannot expect to be respected by motorists if we don’t apply the same standards on our bikes.

The first events for team members will be the Gauteng road and TT champs on the weekend of the 19/20th for a couple roadies as well as the USN Cup #1 at our club stomping grounds –The Red Barn. The following weekend sees the first of the MTN marathon and Nissan half-marathon series in Barberton where we will have a nice set-up at the start/finish area. Then our XC series kicks off on the 9th of Feb down in Cape Town which is always very exciting!

Also on the agenda is the Centurion High School skills clinic where several of our team members will be running bases, teaching the youngsters some tricks and answering questions. Our ladies’ and fast mid-week Dirt Jam sessions have also been growing and have thus far been very beneficial to all who attend!

We hope that everyone has a fantastic 2013 and look forward to keeping you up to date with all happenings and results of the academy throughout the year.


Paul Cordes

ASG MTB Academy 

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Training Camp - Amy McDougall

To kick off the 2013 season with PYcycling, Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy organised a 7 day endurance training camp based at Matthys Beukes’ farm in Oudtshoorn. The crew consisted of Paul, Yolande, Arno Du Toit, Marcel Marais, Neville and Patsey Ackermann, Edwil O Niel and myself.
We decided to get the 12 hour trip done in one go, and left Pretoria at about 4:30am on the 27th of December. The ride was long, accentuated by my constant suffering from TB (Tiny Bladder) luckily the company was good, Paul was in his cowboy hat and him and Yolande played some arb wildlife spotting game that I still don’t understand! Entertaining none the less!

For the training camp, I would be riding two Cotics: a Cotic X cyclocross bike for the road, and a Cotic Rocket trail bike for mountain biking.
We started each day’s training at 5:30 to avoid the worst of the heat and allow for recovery time.

Day  1: 28th December
Our legs were not feeling too fresh having done a long ride the day prior to a long day’s travelling, so we kept it easy, 3 hours out and back. In the distance loomed Swartburg Pass, a massive mountain shrouded in clouds. It reminded me of the road to Mordor. That’s where we would be training hills the next day, gasp!

The hours after the ride was spent chilling, eating, swimming, sleeping and relaxing. The sun sets really late in Oudtshoorn which allowed us to go for a “trail jam” session at about 5:30pm. Matthys has built an amazing xc course around the property which we played around on for about an hour session before dinner which worked up a good appetite! This trail jam session was my first mtb ride since I broke my hand at Burg n Bush. It was also the first time riding the 26” duel sus Cotic Rocket, I fell in the first 50m. My skills were sketchy but I’d get the hang of it and it felt great to be back on the trails again!!

Day 2: Swartburg Pass
We took an easy ride up to the base of the pass and kept a steady tempo heart rate to the top. Although it was long and pretty painful, I managed to keep a good, steady heart rate up both sides and I can say that I enjoyed the challenge and views!

Day 3: Robertson Pass
It was Yolande’s birthday, to celebrate we rode up and over Robertson Pass on the road, we had breakfast at the bottom and back again. The weather was great, with the pass covered in mist which made for a pleasant ride. The tough part came in the last 20km where we did a 20 km individual time trial. Most of the TT was downhill, so it was fast. I enjoyed the speed and getting my heart rate up and I felt strong! This was one of my favourite days but I was tired and looking forward to the rest day. The afternoon was spent legs up, napping  and chilling. I skipped the trail jam that afternoon as I am suffering an Achilles tendon injury and didn’t want to put more strain on it. That evening was spent at a restaurant called Pal Jas where we ate Ostrich and drank red wine, chatting and laughing and reflecting on the past few days and the days to come.

Day 4: Rest day (New Year’s eve)
A well-deserved rest day for us all entailed 0 riding, just rest and recovery. It was New Year’s eve and Marcel was sick, Edwil had left and the others opted to sleep, which was definitely the wise decision! Arno and I hit the town, which was rather disappointing as there were only a hand full of people in each of the places we went to, dodgy characters at that! Never the less, we had fun but with only an hour sleep, 5 hours of riding the next day would be interesting.

Day 5: Base ride (New Year’s day)
Unlike the previous days which were spent in sweltering heat, today was cool and drizzly which was a relief. The terrain was undulating I enjoyed the ride. I spent the rest of the day catching up the lost sleep from the previous evening. When I woke up it was trail jam time! This time I felt more comfortable on the bike, I came off once pretty hard but otherwise it was great fun!

Day 6: Swartburg suffer fest (Paul’s birthday)
Today was by far the hardest day of the training camp for me, and one of the toughest days on the bike I have had! Paul’s birthday present to himself and us was a ride up Swartburg Pass, down the other side, then up for half an hour, down, and up again. My body was fatigued and Achilles tendon aching. I was far off the pace and my heart rate was 10% - 15% lower than it was the first time we did the pass. I pushed through, but man was I glad when it was done and I was in the pool! The rest of the day was spent in a state of near comatose. I felt better after resting and we celebrated Paul’s birthday in a more conventional manner at a great restaurant in town. The pain was forgotten as another awesome evening with excellent company was had.

Day 7: Steady State intervals and pace line.
The pain was remembered. Four 5 minute intervals on an uphill and a pace line back to the farm. We could all feel the past few days in our legs. The intervals were hard but good and I was surprised to see I was getting stronger with each interval! The pace line was a different story, I had never done one before, and clearly have a lot to learn.

Thanks to Cycleops, we were able to record each day of riding and analyse our data accurately every day. Paul and Yolande for organising the camp. Matt De Jongh from Cotic for giving me the Cyclocross and Rocket to ride. Matthys Beukes and family for accommodation and trail jam sessions. Paul, Yolande, Neville, Patsey, Arno, Marcel and Edwil for great company, awesome rides and fun times!

I am really happy with the last training block that Paul has put us through; it is exciting to start the 2013 season strong with a solid base! I am looking forward to riding with PYcycling for team a[s]g  Pinarello. I think the team is strong and plenty of successful races and mountain biking adventures are to be had!