Monday, 27 May 2013

A Weekend of ups and downs for the ASG Academy

Last weekend, the ASG Academy had members competing in the National XCO, the Nissan Trailseeker series #1 at Curro College and Arno du Toit competed in his second World Cup XCO in the Czech republic. It was a weekend of varied feelings with excellent results and exciting racing, mixed with some unpredictable bad luck that is what makes mountain biking the fickle sport that we love.
The third leg of the National XCO leg was held at Thaba trails, the same course as last week’s provincial. One lap was added for most of the age categories, making the races long on an already tough course.
Stephan Reyneke put in a big effort and had another solid performance, coming 3th U23 and 5th Pro Elite “It was hard racing from the start, I found myself yo-yoing between 2nd and 4th place. My last lap was very painful! Paul told me in training to push through my weak moments. Those words ran through my mind as I pushed through to secure my position on the podium!”

Michelle Benson had tough competition in the junior ladies race, her hard worked payed off with an impressive 3rd place!

Neville Ackermann achieved an amazing result after struggling with his health for months, it was great to see his form coming back as he placed 2nd in the master’s category!

Nicholas Popich, came 6th in the Junior Category, his training had temporarily taken a back seat to his matric studies but he still gave it his all and enjoyed the riding, as he puts it: “The fun attained from suffering on a bike is something only a cyclist will understand”.

Amy McDougall had some bad luck with mechanical issues, she was coming second in the Pro Elite Category when in her last lap her chain snapped. She walked the rest of the lap and came in 7th Pro Elite and 3rd Elite. Paul Cordes had a similar bout of bad luck when a crash in his 2nd last lap caused his derailleur to break forcing him to forfeit his race.

Although Yolande Speedy couldn’t race, she once again showed amazing sportsmanship by being there the whole day to support her team mates! Things are looking up on her road to recovery andshe will be competing in SA Marathon Champs, the Big Induna next week!

In the Nissan Trailseeker #1 half marathon, Jacques Pretorius had a killer of a race, coming 2nd by a few seconds. Pretorius was elated by his performance: “I put a hard effort in at the start, and my rival and I quickly opened up a gap on the rest of the field. It was a fast and flat race, I would have preferred more climbing but I’m happy, one year ago I finished 56th at the Trailseeker #1 at the same venue this year I moved up to 2nd. Things can only go better from here!”

Danielle Rheeder Had a steller race, winning the ladies half marathon overall.“I got my new bike on Thursday... A 29er Cannondale!! I was very excited that morning to try it out! At the start I had a bad fall because of another rider that pushed infront of me... I got up and decided to make it my race with a lot of catching up to do, at 6km before the end I caught up with the leading ladies! I put in a lot of effort to win the race! I was very happy with my performance!”  In the marathon, Andrea de Boer came 3rd senior lady “A fast and furious race that tested my limits and legs. The pace was high, the race was hard and the result was pleasing” said de Boer.

Arno Du Toit got pulled off in his second World Cup race due to the 80% rule, where riders’ times have to be within 80% of the winning time. Du Toit raced his heart out, had he been 40 seconds faster, he would have finished. This experience is one that he will carry with him for years to come and can only make him a stronger rider.

Mountain biking may be an unpredictable and fickle sport but that is what makes it exciting and full of possibility! Once again the positive vibe and camaraderie within the Academy is prevalent as the young athletes work toward their individual goals and encourage each other on the road to theirs.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Provincial XCO number 3. Thaba trails - Kyle Wood

Myself and a few team mates had gone to check the course the Thursday before the race and upon arrival I could already see this course would suit me a whole lot! A gap jump with a sneaky berm straight after, loose and fast technical down hills with plenty big rocks and tight corners in between and just to make sure you stayed awake there were sharp steep up hills that would surely burn the legs. After a few laps with Marcel I felt comfortable with every thing and felt ready. That was until young Jack 'attempted' the gap jump. He landed the jump perfectly and was so excited he just forgot the berm. After jumping the berm and using his head to break the fall I felt as if we needed allot more practice before the race.

Race day had come and I was feeling very cheerful, my legs felt great during warm up and after a good start with the elites and U23s I found myself lying in 3rd position. I knew if I stayed consistent I would be able to hold off the others. By climbing hard and recovery on the top flat section of the course I managed to hold 3rd. The climbing was tough and after a few laps I was finding it hard to stay concentrated on the down hills, time for a High 5 energy gel! Lap 4 was the toughest for me. I found myself playing mind games and kept thinking 'keep it together' I knew I was almost done.

Half way into my 5th lap I looked down the mountain and saw that Edwil was slowly gaining on me. It was time to dig deep and push it one more time up the massive climb. I was at the top and only a few small climbs and some down hills lay between me and the finish. After a few close calls I sprinted into the finish I realized I had got my best result of the year and it felt great pushing my body to the limit.

With Steph finishing 1st and myself in 3rd it was a great result to add to the many other podiums of the day.
Kyle 'woody' Wood

Time to put away the marathon legs and wake up the fast XCO legs again. – Stephan Reyneke

The@asg_pycycling gang and I went to have a first look at the race route for the following two weekends on Thursday afternoon. Heading out on our first lap, we soon discovered this was going to be a tough one… The steep up hills and technical single track didn't allow for much rest.
Just when we though all the surprises were over there was more... A GAP JUMP! And don't we boys like to fly!!But, my fellow team mate Jack(Jacques Pretorious) took the flying part a bit seriously… He got so excited when his wheels took flight that he forgot to take the turn after the landing resulting in a nasty tumble!

Race day!
I got up early to support our @asg_pycycling ladies. The weather wasn't looking too promising. I was pretty nervous as Amy McDougal took a win in the elite ladies class and Michelle Benson was the second junior lady, setting the bench mark high!
Next off was Paul Cordes, cleaning out his class as usual.
Then it was time for the u23s and the elites to mix it up a little. Marcel Marais, Kyle Wood and Edwill O’Neill were standing next to me on the line... As the gun went off it was all about getting into the single track first… Surprising myself, I was leading up the first climb. WheeleeyumMakgopo was breathing down my neck for the first lap and a half and took 2nd U23 in the end. Teammate Kyle Wood comfortably took 3rd. I was very happy taking my first win in my ASG MTB Academy colours!

Thanks toWendell Bole for the excellent course at Thaba Trails. I am looking forward to racing the upcoming SA Cup #3 next weekend on this course!

ASG Jozi Night Race 17 May - Sonika Le Grange

It was cold and dark, quite scary but nothing I couldn't handle!

Friday was the best night race yet. It was at a different venue and less competitors this time. Thank goodness teammate Amy McDougall wasn't there my legs were tired after a hard days netbal practise, I couldn't bare the though of racing next to her!

6 o'clock sharp the race started... directly into a climb. We raced in great single track! Although the Rosemary hill venue had more technical spots it was still not as tough as Heia Safari Ranch because of all the steep climbs.
I pushed as hard as I could my high 5 drink came in handy fast!

I was leading in the womens race. I found myself all alone in one single track, it was scary, all of a sudden I heard a windy sound I had a sidewall cut! A few men came past but no one could help. Never in my life would I have guess I had to run 4km in the dark pushing my bike, me and my bike had a great time bonding! ... my gap between 2nd place and the rest of the women was big enough to take the win.
Afterwards they congratulated us with some high 5 gels and a big fire.

The venue and prizes were great. Thank you Heia Safari Ranch for a great visit!  Well done to Louis Blom with his second place :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

National MTN Marathon #5 Gravel Travel – Stephan Reyneke

Gravel Travel is one of the favourites in the MTN National MTB Series; a race with beautiful scenery and magnificent trails. This is what real mountain biking is about; each challenging climb gets rewarded with amazing flowing single track. It is one of the races with the most purpose built single track… If I have to describe MTN Gravel travel in short I would say it’s like a 75km cross country race!

My race

Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate was the venue for the 2013 Gravel Travel. It was hard racing from the gun, we hit it straight out the wine estate onto the first big climb called “The Wall”. The steep climb from the start made it easy to spot the stronger riders.Contego was the team putting the hammer down from the start.Soon I found myself giving it my all to hang onto the back of the leading group of threeContego riders as well as Robert Sim, Tom Ettlich and Patrick Belton (Team Jeep). Going onto the first technical single track, it was clear that GertHeins (Contego) and his fellow riders,AdriaanLouw and JurgensUys had home ground advantage. The main split came at about 25km into the race after a long twisty descent. The threeContego riders and Patrick seem to have gotten away.I was on a solo mission to try and keep the time gaps minimal. I had to strike a balance between taking too many risksor possibly losing more time on the leaders. I was on the chase for my entire race.I was never exactly sure how much time I’d lost on the leaders.I ended up crossing the line 6th overall and 5th u23. I came in 63 seconds behind 4th place, which just shows exactly how important it is to race hard till the end!

Monday, 6 May 2013

ASG Academy achieves at the MTN National Marathon series #3 in Clarens.

Last weekend the third leg of the MTN National Marathon Series took place in Clarens. Some of the best riders in the country descended upon the quaint town to battle it out for valuable UCI points up for grabs.
Riding in the Academy colours in the Marathon was Paul Cordes, Arno Du Toit, Marcel Marais, Edwill O’Niell and Amy McDougall. In the Half marathon it was Jacques Pretorius and Danielle Rheeder.
The racing was fast and tough, the majority of the course was made of district roads making it a tactical race and a strong headwind added to the challenge.

Paul showed the “laaitjies” a thing or two when he crossed the line 5th overall and 2nd sub vet in a time of 2:54:44. Arno achieved a bronze medal in the strongly contested U23 category and came 8th overall. Marcel was 5th U23 and Edwill 6th U23.

Amy McDougall came 3rd overall in the ladies race and 1st senior lady.

In the half marathon, Jacques Pretorius took a wrong turn but still managed a top 10 finish overall and 8th in the junior category. Danielle came 2nd in the junior ladies category.
Then last week Thursday was the monthly ASG night race at Rosemarry Hill. This is such a nice event and gives some really fun variety to normal racing. Our guys did well taking 2nd to 5th in the men and Amy winning the women’s event.

Then for some variety Nicolas Popich took part in the SA Duathlon champs in Potchefstroom. He says that he battled in the beginning to find any sort of rhythm but fought back bravely to end 5th in the juniors narrowly missing out on a SA team spot for world champs later this year. 

The Academy and its members’ hard work is paying off as the athletes continue to achieve consistently in these high profile races, working towards greater goals and helping each other along the way.

Then in some more news is that next week we will have a first for the academy with Arno Du Toit heading over to Germany and then Austria to race in two World Cup events in the U23 category. His progress and consistency has been fantastic over the past year and now it is a great opportunity to give him exposure to the top level of international cycling.

Then for the rest of the riders there is round 3 of the xco Provincials and National xco series at Thaba Trails in the next two weeks. Also in two weeks is round 1 of the Nissan Trailseeker series which also attracts some top level racing.

Until then, happy trails.