Monday, 20 January 2014

Kicking off the season:

After a couple of weeks off the bike with no real structured training it was time to regain focus and start putting some serious effort into our pre-season base preparation. About two weeks ago, mentors Paul and Yolande, decided we should break away to the Lowveld for some quality training time with the a[s]g PYCycling gang, just before the year takes off in full force.

Training camp in and around the Mankele area was a great break away for all of us and a chance to think about and discuss the challenges ahead and most importantly to get some proper training done. It’s always a great help if you can surround yourself with positive people, all focused and willing to motivate each other.

We arrived back in the city just in time for the first race of the season. Of course I have to defend my USN Cup series title this year so I needed a good result, but more importantly I wanted it to be a good leg stretch and lung burner before African Continental Champs this coming weekend.On the bike side we are really privileged to have our Pinarello Dogma XC's equipped with some Powertap hubs on stiff and lightweight Ritchey wheel sets and the always faithful Continental tires. With the help of Epic Sports sorting out my stallion all that was left for me was to go out and turn those Crank Brother pedals over as fast as I could.

It was good to see some proper talent on the start line, especially a guy called Max Knox. However being surrounded by a group of fluo Rudy Project helmets with encouraging comments made me very excited to kick off the 2014 season on a high. Must admit I had no real plan, but about 5km into the race I put in a big effort hoping to split the group and to see who I should keep an eye on. As I looked back a bit further on I noticed a substantial gap had opened and I was off the front by myself.

To be honest at first I didn't think I could maintain that, but a while later, Coach Paul standing in the veld somewhere, shouted a time gap and I suddenly realised I was gaining ground and that it might be possible to stay clear. From there on I kept my head down, topped up the tank with some High5 nutrition and forced myself not to look back. In the end it paid off and I managed to take my first win of the season.

In general I was surprised with my form this early on, but also realised that there is still plenty of room for improvement and I’m looking forward to a good season with a great bunch of people.

Till next weekend!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

USN Cup #1, the first race of the season

I knew that this race would be a challenging and very tactical race like usual because of the flat terrain and endless single track. Knowing the terrain I fitted my bike with the grippy continental X king tyre in the front and the fast rolling race king at the back.

On the start line I took a High5 energy gel to help me stay fuelled throughout the race. I saw some familiar faces on the start line but I was confident that I could take the win. Straight from the start I immediately went to the front of the bunch to avoid congestion, crashing and losing speed. I tried to make the racing hard before we hit all the traffic from the slower riders for the other distances. It gave me a bit of confidence and encouragement when I saw some good power and low heart rate on my CycleOps, this meant that I could go even harder.

Still early on in the race and when I was still pushing hard at the front Murphy snuck in with a technical issue from my drive-train forcing me off my bike.  This was very disappointing and I knew that it would be very hard to chase back to the leading riders after losing a lot of places and being stuck behind tale markers in the single-tracks. The kilometers flew by very quickly and I couldn't catch up with fast enough while negotiating the traffic.

I learned a lot from this race and I hope not to make the same mistakes again in the future. Physically I feel very strong and I'm ready for a proper and exciting season of racing in the colours of Asg-PYcycling with support from Epic Sport cycle shop and a lot of other great brands.

I hope to see you all at the first leg of the MTN national series :)

Jacques Pretorius

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Step Into 2014 With New Colours

A long drive up to Epic Sports to collect my new gear to get me going for 2014 but to arrive to the site of my Pinarello Dogma XC all kitted out for me made the wait to get there way worth it! The hardest part of collecting my ASG colours and gear was doing the Ergo Fit set up in my kit and then not being able to leave the shop and RIDE. However the trip back flew by because of the excitement of the whole new set up. It felt like a late Christmas!

Friday morning was an early start because the idea of waiting to ride didn't seem right, so I did a quick spin and then did some minor tweaks just to make the ride perfect. Later I was off to the KZN XCO track at Hammersdale to see what the track was looking like for the next days race. 

It looked really good with a few open flat sections, some awesome single track and a steep long hill at the back of the course! I also got to experiment with some High5 nutrition to find the right performance booster for me. I felt ready and at home getting onto the Pinarello which gave me some extra confidence for the race.

Luckily I woke up to overcast weather which had a promise of holding out but everything was soaked, I knew I was racing later in the day which meant the track should of dried out a little by then. It did and the weather held out perfectly. After getting all kitted up in the lumo gear, I climbed onto my bike and started my warm up, feeling quite good and ready to go.

We all lined up a while later on the steep incline, then we were off and the rotor Q ring helped me get a fast start and to the front of the group from the back. A very fast 1st lap but I was in 4th overall behind the top U23’s and elites in KZN. The lighting changed a lot during the course which was where my Rudy Project photochromic lenses assisted me with vision. It was a case of buckle up and flat out. The course turned out very brutal with the back climb being so steep and 6 laps of the course became quite a challenge but luckily I had some High5 Isogels to boost me up and get me to the line still in 4th overall and 1st Junior. My Pinarello made me fly around the track with its aggressive style for descending and its super stiff design made the climbs feel easier. It's the perfect combination with the 29er wheels!  

I felt it was a good start to my 2014 season, just a few more tweaks and African XCO Champs here I come! Hope to see you there!