Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Successful end to the USN Cup Series and Speedy shines at the Cape Pioneer.

Last Saturday, the final leg of the popular USN Cup Series took place at an all-new venue, Modderfontein. The majority of the course was single track which was enjoyable for every level of cyclist. Once again the Academy had a strong showing on the podium.
In the 50km, Francois Ebersohn showed great form when he came 2nd overall and 1st Vet. Edwill O’Neill had an excellent race, coming 7th overall and 3rd U23.

Amy McDougall placed 2nd lady and 1st Senior.  “I enjoyed all the single track and USN put on a great event!” Andrea de Boer had a strong ride coming 2nd senior lady. “The course was amazing, the fast flowing single track made for a fun race and really tested one's single track technique and fitness.”

In the 30km half marathon, Jacques Pretorius once again stood on the podium.  He came 3rd Junior. He has become a regular on the podium in the USN Cup series with consistently great results throughout the year. “I loved the route and had a lot of fun on the fast flowing single track. I was happy to have achieved another podium in the USN Cup series.”

Danielle Rheeder added two more golds to her collection by winning the ladies race overall, as well as the junior ladies race. “The track was fast and flowing. I enjoyed the single track a lot! I am chuffed to win the USN series. Thanks to ASG PYcycling for the support.”

The Cape Pioneer which is a 7 day stage race that has been growing in prestige and rivalling the ABSA Cape Epic in difficulty and beauty also came to an end last Saturday. Last year Yolande Speedy teamed up with Yolande de Villiers where they were the eventual elite women’s winners. This year they teamed up again and proved to be a formidable force when they finished 3rd and first South African pairing.  In the 14km prologue, they placed 3rd to RE:CM Davinci’s Swiss/Danish paring of Ariane Kleinhans and Annika Langvad and Wheeler – BMC’s Swiss  Jane Nuessli and Esther Suss respectively. This set the tone for the rest of the race duelling with the South African pairing of Robyn DeGroot and Ischen Stopforth swapping in between 3rd and 4th spots. The event once again tested rider’s strength, equipment and mental toughness in a rain scattered week which made some super difficult and long stages often with bikes finishing with no brakes and even derailleurs!  In the final stage Speedy and De Villiers came 4th and kept their 3rd in GC. “The weather conditions made this year’s Cape Pioneer a tough one for both riders and equipment. I was really grateful to be riding my Dogma which has been super reliable and gave minimal technical problems! This was my second Cape Pioneer with Yolande De Villiers and I thoroughly enjoyed our partnership, a big thanks to her for pulling me through a couple of tough days. We were happy to finish 3rd overall! Thanks to Ostrich Meat SA, our race mechanic, Solly and sponsors ASG_PYCycling, ASG Sport, Epic Sports Bike Shop,  Continental tyres, Bicycle Power SA, Squirt Lube and Bicicletta for all the support! ”

The USN Cup Series has been a great platform for the youngsters in the academy to learn what it takes to perform consistently throughout a series and to improve on previous results, achieving personal goals. It has been an enjoyable series for everyone and has provided the Academy with great coverage throughout the year! The Academy won the series overall in 3 Categories and a 2nd in one other including the overall win from Arno DuTiot which we are very proud of.

Also last weekend our World Champion Neville won his category at the Msunduzi Road Challenge ITT giving him some practice, showing off his stripes and qualifying him for next year’s world champs.

Next up for our riders is the final leg of the Nissan series which will be held at Cornwall Hill and then Wines2Whales so still keeping busy at the end of what has been a very long season.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Crater Cruise, the final stretch - Amy McDougall

Crater Cruise: Totally not my idea of a mountain bike race but somehow I enjoy it for the mental and physical challenge. You’re on the rivet for 4 hours + in the scorching heat and this year a howling wind to contend with. If the heat, wind and dehydration don’t break you, the seemingly endless and monotonous corrugated and bumpy roads would easily do the job… Challenge accepted!

Our race started at 7:30, just after the Elite men, and the temperatures were already hitting the 30’s. It was going to be a scorcher! Once the Elite men were off, we were ushered into the start chute.Standing alongside me was the series leader and SA Marathon Champ, Robyn de Groot, Swiss marathon champ Ariaan Kleinhans and our XCO Olympian, Candice Neethling. I had never beaten any of these girls and I felt strong but wasn’t too sure of my form as I haven’t been following a structured training program... All I knew is that I’d be in the hurt box for 103km. Hopefully my hours in the Cradle and Suikerbosrand would pull me through! My plan of action was to do my best, stick with them as long as I could and finish with an empty tank.

Once the gun went off we meandered through the quaint town of Parys chit chattering behind the lead vehicle for about 7km of neutral zone. Once out of town we followed the car along an undulating tar road. There was an MTN sign board pointing left, the car stopped, the chatting stopped and we were left to fight it out for the 95km. Our speed picked up with Robyn and Ariaan setting the pace up front. We soon dropped most of the field and I was surprisingly comfortable so I made an effort to do my fair share of helping up front. The wind was pumping and being in front was hard work.

Ariaan, Robyn, Candice and I were working comfortably together for the first 30km or so, with Liesel Lourens just managing to hang on.The pace started picking up especially on the climbs and we dropped Liesel and Candice. I stuck with the two national champs but was hurting, we hit a concrete climb and I was dropped. I kept Robyn in my sight for the next few km but just didn’t have the legs to catch her. My CycleOps showed that my heart rate had steadily been sitting in the mid 180’s and stayed there for at least 2 hours before dropping into the 170’s. I started getting worried about bonking, my max is only 188 and to keep it as high as I did was not ideal. On top of that I was dehydrated, I had to stop at every water table with an empty bottle and downed as many cups of liquid as I possibly could within the time they filled my bottle. I’m sure I broke a record ;-)

I made sure to take my High 5 gels every hour which definitely helped me keep energised and able to push through!

When my CycleOps measured 80km, I knew I needed to put my head down and just do it. I was hurting, fighting against the heat and strong wind. Km after km of a long stretch of corrugated road was causing sense of humour failure; there was nowhere to go! I felt my brain rattling in my head and was ready for the end. Eventually I reached the last water table. A sigh of relief. The worst was over, now it was just grassy dual track a nice big rock to climb over and homeward bound along the railway. I filled up and stole a quick glance behind me, expecting to see Candice closing in on me. Thankfully no one was in sight. I zooted off not wanting to get complacent and hey, maybe I could even catch Robyn or Ariaan, you never know!

I dug deep, a few more kms and I could chill…. I was so happy to eventually see the bridge that signified the end of the race, I ramped of the other side and pedalled over the finish line. I rode through the hall with a smile, 3rd at Crater Cruise, I was happy and I knew I had done my best.The 29er definitely made the bumps more bearable and I was grateful that the Dogma ran flawlessly for the 103km, helping me along!
I got of my bike only to find my left foot was in spasm and I could barely walk. I must have looked like a complete wreck as I hobbled off to the fountain where a few other broken looking cyclist were cooling off and comparing notes on their race. The water was a manky brown colour with floating grass and other unidentifiables but I didn’t care, it looked divine! I slipped in, dunked my head and chatted to a few guys I knew. It didn’t take long for the slimy floor and floating things in the water to gross me out. Time to get clean and start feeling human again.

I am happy with my result at Crater Cruise, it has been an up and down year and it was good to end it on an up! My main goal for the day was achieved; I kept my 2nd place overall in the series and 1st in my age category. My fasbyting and consistently “ok” results throughout the series paid off!I have learnt a lot in this season of marathon racing and am looking forward to using my experience to kick ass in next year’s season!

Beast of the East - Edwill O'Neill

Myself, Kyle and Jacques decided we will take on the Beast of the East race on Saturday. I had quite a solid week of training, my legs where a bit tired but I felt good enough to put myself on the start line. 

The 67 km route was very flat and bumpy which normally means it’s going to be like a tactical road race, after the start a group of 9 riders broke away, with all three of the ASG PYcycling riders in the group. Barend Burger of Single Track Cycles broke away after 30 km of racing. The rest of us fought it out to the end taking turns in front of the group snaking through the Rosemary hill single track. 
It really helped having 2 team mates with me in the group doing their part in the group and loving every moment of it. The pace got quicker at the 10 km to go mark, I held on for dear life and ended up 8th overall 4th open men.

Congratulations to Jacques for finishing his first marathon. And Kyle for showing what it means to "byt vas"


Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Swazi Frontier - Arno du Toit

Seeing that I couldn't recall any great memories from that race around Parys, I was rather happy when Paul recommended we go up to Swaziland and do something different for a change - The Logico Swazi Frontier.
So after a few days of training the coach attached a small chainring to his bike and a Mapdeck to mine. Wednesday morning we then test rode the Dogma's to Bicccs just to make sure we where sorted before heading off.

As we arrived at registration I soon noticed a very different than normal vibe amongst the competitors. The food court seemed more like a beer tent. I could see all the navigators where excited about the size 11 font on the navigation cards.

Day 1: Needless to say it took me some time to get the hang of reading while riding cattle trails along cliffs and through rivers, so we decided to follow the leaders for a bit, while I tried to find our location and the old guy his legs, the perfect start.

It didn't take too long for the testosterone levels to settle and we soon rode off the front. Now no one to follow, but at least the scenery was great for being lost, as we found out not much later.

After riding in circles for a couple of minutes we found ourselves back on track somewhere in the top 10. Chasing hard we caught back up and leaped off the front again. Few more minor navigation errors on my side kept the chasing group close, which meant they could just follow without doing a whole lot of map work.

The stage came to an end with a very brutal climb, called "too brutal". I am proud to say that with the help of some grippy Conti tires, I was in fact the only rider to make it all the way to the top. I figured Paul must have ran out of High5 gels at this point. On his second attempt he threw in the towel and found out that the Sidi's are also very comfortable when walking up steep gradients.

So 4hrs and 35min later we crossed the line in 1st place. Almost broken!

Day 2: A few kilo's in just as I got held up in a river crossing, my partner attacked. Great move I thought and after burning a few matches to get back we where out of sight. Once again they sent us out on some amazing trails. Down a valley with about 34 river crossings just to name one section. With no navigation issues and just a quick stop to apply Squirt on our chains, we arrived at Pigs Peak Hotel and Casino. Extending our over all lead by a few more minutes.

It didn't take long for the pool bar to start pumping.

Being serious athletes we skipped that part and spent most of the afternoon in our luxurios room with the aircon on full blast. Unfortunately no Top Gear on the tellie, so after the evenings festivities we did some gambling.

5minutes later we both won a fair amount and cashed out straight away.

Day 3: When I saw the temperature on my CycleOps Joule was 24Âșc on the start line at 6:30 I knew we where in for another rough day. I then figured let's get it over with as quick as we can and dropped the hammer right from the start. 500 meters later I realized uncle Paul was under that hammer. I basically crushed my partner...

A while later the old diesel engine got going and we navigated our way over a few more mountains and through some stunning valleys. We finished things off with another stage win and with a solid gap over the chasing teams.

Honestly this whole race has some of the best trails I have ever ridden. Ungroomed, but lovely flowing tracks with amazing scenery all round.

As the son started setting a few beers where enjoyed by the pool over looking Maguga dam.

The final prize giving or as some call it "stage 4" was special. Very different from the normal ceremonies... a bit more relaxed to say the least.

All and all for me this was a great way to end off a good season. I realise that I am very priviledged to have been able to experience this awesome event. Hats off to the organisers and a big thank you to Paul and a[s]gPYCycling for making it possible.

Till next year

Monday, 14 October 2013

National Marathon series comes to a successful end.

Lumo yellow mottled the country this weekend with Paul Cordes and Arno du Toit winning the Swazi frontier, Yolande Speedy winning the Berg ‘n Bush with Fedgroup’s Bridgette Stewart. And a strong contingent competing in the MTN National Crater Cruise in Parys.

A long hard season of marathon racing came to an apex in Parys for the final leg of the MTN National series, the Crater Cruise. Stephan Reyneke once again proved to be one of the best in the country when he came 2nd U23 to RE:CM’s Lourens Luus. “What a day. The average temperature was 35.5 degrees over 103km of racing… It was a hard day in the saddle. The course was flat but very bumpy and the heat made it very hard to stay hydrated! I was happy to take 2nd place u23 in a sprint finish at the end.Thanks to ASG_pycycling for making my racing possible.” said Reyneke.

In the ladies race Amy McDougall came 3rd to RE:CM’s Arianne Kleinhans and Robyn de Groot. “This is one of my best results of the year, I am very happy! The Dogma was so smooth and rode flawlessly. It was a scorching hot day and I found myself racing in the red for the majority of the race, with my heart rate sitting steadily in the 180’s for a couple of hours I was worried about bonking. Although I was suffering and my heart rate dropped into my normal 170’s, I felt strong to the end thanks to High 5 and some long training hours. Most of all I am happy to take 2nd overall in the series and 1st in my age category!” ~McDougall

In the 23km, also held on the Saturday, Azulde Britz put out another great performance as she was the 6th lady to cross the line and 3rd Youth. Being on the podium has been a regular occurrence throughout the year for this youngster. “It was great race the pace was set at the beginning and we kept it there. I really enjoyed it and am so happy with my 3rd place and happy to say I'm closing the gap at each race between me and 1st place!”

In the half marathon on Sunday, Danielle Rheeder had a steller race to end off her season. She came 2nd to BMC’s Hazel Magill in a sprint finish. Rheeder: “The race was quite fast and flat. It was windy out there which made riding a bit more difficult. Hazel and I worked together for the last 10km and we crossed the line right next to each other. I am chuffed with my 2nd place!”

Yolande Speedy and Fedgroup’s Bridget Stewart teamed up for one of the most scenic and enjoyable races on the calendar. It boasts some of the best single track in the country which is a treat of anyone privileged enough to ride there. Speedy and Stewart had a tight 3 days of racing against Velo Life’s Ashleigh Moffatt and Kendal Ryan. Moffatt and Ryan won the first stage by 2 minutes but Speedy and Stewart won the following 2 days and the overall race by 6 minutes; proving that in this case, experience trumps youth! “It was a super fun 3 days at the Burg ‘n Bush, some of the best single track I’ve ridden, and thoroughly enjoyed my partnership with Bridget Stewart!! It was tough racing against team BMC’s Ashleigh and Kendal, keeping it exciting to the end. Thanks Fedgroup, ASG_Pycycling and all my sponsors for the outstanding support!”

After a long season of successful training and consistent results, Paul Cordes and Arno du Toit teamed up for a bit of well-deserved fun at the Swazi Frontier. The route, built in the scenic mountains of Swaziland follows a logical progression from one overnight venue to the next and covers a total of 180kms. Riders are provided with Maps and have to navigate their way to each stop unsupported. “With the season pretty much coming to an end now, it was great to finish things off with a “no pressure”, fun-filled event . I realised that I am privileged to ride the Dogma on such amazing trails through a beautiful country. A big thank you to Paul Cordes and ASG_PYcycling for the opportunity” ~Du Toit

Says Cordes: “It’s been a while since I’ve done a stage race and this was a great one to finish up with. We were privelaged to ride on fantastic trails and countryside were Arno was in charge of the navigation. The Dogmas were once again flaweless, Conti’s were perfect and Squirt cleaned and lubed the bikes everyday. The power tap gave the stats and directions which worked out perfectly and High 5 helped to fend off the 40 degree heat and dehydration. It is a super event for anyone looking for something different!”

It has been a long season for many of the academy members and there are mixed feelings of relief and sadness as a great year of racing with many ups and downs is coming to a close. There are still a few local races and stage races coming up on the calendar to look forward to. The academy can be proud of what its athletes have achieved in the National XCO and XCM series this year!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Hakahana and The Isuzu 3 Towers

Last weekend was the 4th leg of the Nissan Series, Hakahana. This is arguably one of the toughest of the local marathon series with steep rocky descents and ascents. The heat of the day also added to suffering and riders had to be sure to hydrate properly!

In the Marathon, Stephan Reyneke was up against some of the top mountain bikers in the country. To name a few, Phillip Buys, Matthew Brittain, Jan Witthaar and Henry Uys. Buys and Withaar created a big gap on the rest of the field but it was Buys who took the honours by 50 seconds. Reyneke was left battling it out with Henry Uys, Matt Brittain, Barend Burger and Sheldon Dagly. Reneke and Uys broke away from the rest of the group and battled it out for 3rd and 4th. In the end it was Uys who claimed 3rd, less than a minute ahead of Reyneke. It is good to see more quality racing coming from this rising star. “When I lined up for the start and looked at my competitors next to me, I knew it was going to be a tough race. The start was fast dusty ,and it wasn't long before we hit the hills.It was a rough technical course suiting my riding style. I had a close battle with Henry Uys for 3rd and 4th place overall,but in the end I had to settle for 4th.I was happy to take 1st place u23.”

Amy McDougall was coming 3rd to Robyn de Groot and Lisa Olivier and had managed to break away from Christine Janse Van Rensburg and Janine King when she unfortunately took a wrong turn. “I was digging deep to get and stay ahead of Christine and Janine. I was in my zone and somehow managed to take a wrong turn with 2 other guys. It was incredibly frustrating but I continued to race my hardest and gained 3 out of the 5 places I lost and came 2nd in my age.”

In the Half marathon, Nicholas Popich too took a wrong turn. He was coming first by a decent margin and was disappointed to find himself on the wrong route. “This year's race was much harder than the previous! More climbs and steeper. Even though I took the wrong route I was happy to be leading until then. At least I know what to expect in the marathon next year”

Danielle Rheeder came 3rdJunioragainst some of the top in the country. Bianca Haw took the win with BMC teammate Hazel Macgill in 2nd Says Rheeder: “I had a very tough race. It challenged me mentally and physically. Keeping hydrated was the key. The hills were very steep and I enjoyed the single track a lot!!”

Lynette Benson was the 10th lady home in the half marathon and 3rd youth. An excellent result as she has been battling with ballet injuries for a significant part of this year “It was a hard day in the saddle but I enjoyed the technical downhills and was happy with my result!”

In the 3 Towers stage race held in Mankele, riders enjoyed a scenic, very technical route that put their physical and mental toughness to the test. Yolande Speedy teamed up with Samantha Saunders, Arno du Toit with Guylin Van Den Berg and Marcel Marais with Ian Pienaar.

Speedy and Saunders were up against Esther Erdeli and Candice Neethling. They came 2nd on day 1, 1st on day 2 and 2nd on the 3rd day. Says Speedy: “Tough but great fun 3 days of racing at the 3 Towers! I didn’t quite have the legs I hoped for but really enjoyed the partnership with Sam Sanders and I was happy to take 2nd. Well done to Ezster and Candice for the win and thanks for a great race. Thanks to @asg_PYCycling and @EpicCycleShop for the support and to Valentia for the onsite support.”
Arno du Toit and Guylin Van Den Berg came 5th overall. Says Du Toit: “After battling a bit on day 1, I really started to enjoy the rest of the racing. With some good, consistent riding, Guylin and I finished 5th overall.”

Marais and Pienaar came 7th overall. This was a fantastic result for them, they worked well as a team and worked hard to keep their well-deserved position. “The race was extremely hard from the start and we had to fight to secure our 7th overall throughout the whole 3 days. No doubt the toughest 3 days I’ve raced back to back. But all in all an awesome race and I learnt a lot!” ~Marais

Although it has been a long year for the athletes, their enthusiasm and ambition is still shining through as the season comes to a close. Next week is the last serious race, the MTN Crater Cruise in Parys, there is sure to be some proper racing there as the best from around the country gather to fight it out for positions in the overall series and the honour of winning the biggest and final race of the National Marathon series.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

TT World Champs - Neville Ackermann

It was a very technical route that some found too daunting, with a tough climb out of the valley. It started with a drag of 2.5 km then a steep descent with hairpin bends and some narrow streets through the village bellow.

I chose to ride with due caution, concentrating on building speed out of every corner. We then started the rolling section with more bends and bridges, shooting between houses and vineyards. Then a hard right and a 2 km climb of 12% landed us 5 km from home on a steady drag to the line.

I rode to the plan that I had practiced and felt satisfied with my effort. The results were delayed by about 4 hours but it was only at the ceremony that evening when I saw them hanging our flag ready to hoist that I truly believed I had a gold medal and a rainbow jersey to proudly take home.

My thanks to the a[s]g P Y cycling team for having me as a member and a special thanks to my wife Patsy and Paul and Yolande for their support. It has been a tough year with many frustrations but some great highlights.

Thanks to all for their well wishes and congratulations. I am truly thrilled to have taken gold!