Monday, 24 February 2014

MTN National series 2 and Wartberg Illovo Classic

Last weekend saw round two of the National MTN Series which was held in the beautiful town of Sabie. With its huge climbs, forests and amazing views it is always a mountain biker’s favorite! However this year the heavens opened leaving little view and heaps of mud to contest with.

A very dirty Gert
This being a UCI points event as well as a World Marathon champs qualifier the stakes were high and it attracted some international competition just in case the regular pro riders weren’t competition enough! From the gun Team Bulls as well as a resurgent Kevin Evans set a high pace and strung out the field in the very difficult conditions. Gert Heyns coming off a couple fantastic results the last two weeks was there for us and in the thick of things. He alternated between 4th and 8th place as riders were caught and dropped until he finally finished up in an incredible 5th place overall and 3rd South African!

Good looking podium!
This result combined with his result from Dulstroom gives the 20year old on his Dogma xc hardtail the overall series lead in the ultra marathon at this stage of the season!! This now adds to first round wins and leaders jerseys in the elite men’s National MTN marathon and junior women’s categories for our race team! Added to that a healthy lead in the USN series and Gauteng and KZN provincial series, a couple African champ medals and SA TT masters title amongst almost 40 other podiums and one could say the fluo gang is off to a good start!

Danielle and Christine for junior ladies podium
Then in KZN our young gun Alan Hatherly has been continuing on his winning streak with the junior and overall win in the 45km event at the Wartberg Illovo Classic. Alan has slowly been improving and working on his endurance and speed as he builds towards the SA XCO Cup series as well as the UCI World Cup series! His times and results have been equal to that of the best u23 and elite riders so far this season so we can still expect some big things from him when the season gets serious!
There is still a lot to do and achieve this season with our riders setting very high personal goals so a big thank you to all of you for the support, sponsorships and help getting us this far!

Next weekend is the Gauteng provincial then the taper to the first SA XCO Cup and round 3 of the MTN National series in Tulbach. Until then, happy trails!

Paul and Yolande

Wartburg Illovo Classic - Alan Hatherly

A race for training and with plenty of hopes that the weather would be dry on the day, that thankfully came through. I had entered for the 45km due to that being the race for my category, which was not a bad thing since I had done this race the previous year so I had a rough idea of what the course was like.

An early start to the day with my race beginning at 8am, I was really excited for the race to start so I could ride some of the awesome single track that Wartburg had to offer. We were off and I started fairly far back, but with a slow start I made my way to the front quite quickly and after sitting with a few riders for about 1km I rode away and went solo from there out. The first 15km of the course were really fun being fairly flat and with some really fun flowing dry single track, with had no traffic yet. At about 18km the real tough part of the course began, being in the bottom of a valley, we had to climb out and they definitely chose a hard way to get out. I started to hit the 62km A batch traffic now, so I was constantly overtaking. Thankfully by the top of about an 8km climb I had gotten past most of the riders, and what was really tough was the hill called "Zig Zag". It was over 16% at places and it felt like it would never end, passing people here was easy because most of them were walking! Going over the top of this dragged out climb was really awesome and made the climb way worth it. It was steeper single track with a few powdery sections where I could really have fun on my Pinarello. After coming out this single track and taking a High5 gel quickly, it gave me that extra boost just to get me to the finish line still feeling good. In the last 8km's of the race there were up to triple single tracks which was really awesome being traffic free and also fun for people to race each other trough the twisty single track's. Soon I was near the rail way line at the finish and it was a short ride home to my first 45km overall win of the season! I managed to improve my race time from the previous year by 10minutes beating the track record.

It was such an awesome, well organised race and I'll definitely be there again next year!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Giba Gorge XCO - Alan Hatherly

After a hard week of training and a long heat wave, I felt pretty excited to go check out and have some fun on the XCO course for the 2nd KZN round to be held on Saturday. The course was really awesome with plenty climbing, around 190m of climbing per lap but what goes up must go down and the descents were awesome. The course was a bit loose, which I enjoyed and with a few really cool jumps it made it a lot of fun.

The amount of laps we were supposed to do got reduced to 4 laps, but the heat on the day was crazy making the course even tougher. My race was at 11am, so we all lined up with elites first, u23's second, juniors third and youth riders fourth, meaning I was one group from the back of the field. The start was a mess with a rider falling over causing a bunch up and chaos. I managed to get going again now quite far back, so I was on the chase. Up the first hill I got myself into about 13th overall and remained there until the course opened up again, which was the second major hill of the course, and with a giant effort I closed down the gap and got to the leading group. I was now in fourth, with the group pulling a gap on the rest of the field.

During the second lap, Travis and Rourke put in an attack and I dropped off to about 30 seconds behind,  I took a High5 energy gel and the chase was on. On my third lap I put the pressure on and by the end of the lap I had caught up to the leading two riders, Rourke and Travis. On my final lap Rourke picked up the pace leaving just me and him out in front to set the pace. My race came to an end with completing my four laps, still finishing on Rourke's wheel with me and him getting the fastest lap time of the day.
I won my category, Junior's by around 4 minutes! Thanks to everyone for the support out there and to Cameron Wareing and Jade for feeding.

It was a really awesome race and I look forward to racing there again!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Asg night race and MTN National Dullstroom

As always teammate Kyle wood and I were very excited about the asg night race , it is always fun and helps remind me why l took up the sport to start with. On the start line we decided not to go too hard because of the first leg of the mtn national mtb series taking place two days later. We put in a hard team effort in the start and we were soon of the front with one other rider . Kyle and I managed first and second in the end. With this behind us I started to focus on my preparation for the national half marathon in Dullstroom.

Saturday morning everyone were filling their pockets with high 5 energy gels and knowing that the route will be very muddy we were drowning our chains with squirt lube at the epic sports cycle shop tech zone. On the start line I was dead keen to start racing the wait felt like a life time. When we got going I wasn't in the front but on the first hill I caught up with the two leaders we rode a hard but steady pace and soon it was only myself and another rider the kilometers flew by very quickly, the singletracks were very muddy I was very grateful for my continental X king tyre helping me to keep the rubber side down. I lost focus for a few seconds and didn't notice the rider getting away this meant that I was back to chasing. The chasing continued all the way to the finish line where I finished 20 seconds behind the first placed rider. I feel that I still have a lot of room for improvement and I'm looking forward to the hard work ahead,  This was my first podium on a national race, and I'm hungry for more !


A tough muddy affair at Dullstroom–MTN National MTB Series

It was a very early wake up call, my family and I had to leave Centurion at 3am for Dullstroom.  We arrived to a very beautiful misty morning with friendly marshals directing everyone to the venue.   Riding around the venue for a bit of a warm up on the chilly misty morning I felt calm and confidentabout the seemingly though 77km route. 

After all the interviews and race briefing they sent us on our way. The start was very easy, everyone getting the blood flowing through their legs. I felt good enough to go sit in the front of the group up the first few kicks.


About 4km into the race team mate Arno decided it's time, he put in a good acceleration, only Jan and Stuart could go with, this left the big group from the start scattered all over the place. After around 3km everybody settled in. We hit a big district road, JP and I found our self’s alone behind the leading group. Making turns at the front we made good progress slowly catching up to the leaders. Going up a very slippery MUDDY climb to the first proper single track of the day we had to dodge some of the back markers of the ultra, riding the continental x-king on the front and race king on the back I could easily pedal through the slippery stuff. We got to the single track, now this was proper slippery, snaking through the trail everything went smoothly until I had to pass a back marker, I made a stupid pilot error and jammed my front wheel into a hole, I got up very quickly out of the very thick, sticky black mud and off I was chasing down the Westvaal man. I turned up a steep single track climb, the words of my coach, Paul, went running through my head, :" use your arms and not only your legs". The climb was over quite quick, I stopped at the top for a second or two just to straighten my bars from the mud dive in the single track at the bottom. I started descending down to the first tech point, there I put on some of the white gold Squirt lube. After the tech zone it was pretty flat and fast to the final big climb of the day. I got to the climb, funny that there was a lot of walking going on up there, following coaches orders I yanked on the bars the whole way up the steep climb. At the top I put on some more Squirt lube for a smooth ride to the finish. The concrete downhill was dirty fast. On my way to the last single track I was almost pulled off my bike by the race organizer, they had to re-route us because of a swarm of bees being a threat to the riders. With some energy left in the tank I gave everything the last 6km.

Covered with mud from head to toes I ended up rolling through the line 10th overall and 3rd in the U/23 category, my first national podium.  It was a tough muddy day on the bike but overall happy with my performance.