I was fortunate enough to join the exxaro mountain bike academy for a couple of days at their 2015 Absa Cape Epic training camp hosted by Day Trippers and what an amazing experience – that is besides the suffering on the bike with my non Absa Cape Epic ready body. The mission of the exxaro mountain bike academy is to introduce the mountain biking experience to historically disadvantaged communities and individuals, and ultimately assist to transform the sport in South Africa.
The talent among these riders are amazing and the opportunity given to them through exxaro is fantastic and I felt a little out of place with my ‘bigger’ body trying to keep up with the youngsters with some of them in a team (I won’t name names Jan and Philemon) weighing together still like 10kgs less than I do. Now try keeping up with that on a 10km climb like on Groenlandberg on Thursday. It was tough going but with the help of a head start and missing the Nuweberg climb I made it to the top and then we went further around for the next climb. And that is when I crashed. No not falling off my bike but hitting that wall everyone speaks of and I hit it really hard as I flat-lined with no energy to keep myself on my bike climbing the rough and rocky terrain. I understood then why Johan Labuschagne calls this specific climb, at the back of Groenlandberg towards Paul Cluver, ‘Bonk Alley’. BONK!
Now the important lesson here is to be prepared when you go riding. I joined the exxaro guys without doing my normal race preparation of proper nutrition beforehand, drinking my Pepto Sport in the hour leading up to the start and also not eating on the bike. I use this as an excuse for the self-inflicted suffering I experienced on the bike although it could also be because I tried to stick with the lightly weighted youngsters as we climb and climb. Lesson – be prepared, keep on training and stop pressing that snooze button (like this morning again)
What was great on the day was the Pedal2Medal coach and KTM ambassador Swen Lauer as well as pro athlete and Namibian Champion, Heiko Redecker joined us on the day and spent some time with the riders for the 1st 40km’s of the ride. Thank you for your time guys and giving back to the young riders. Much appreciated.
So after a brief recovery day the Friday as I left the team for our year end function I joined them again for the Worcester loop on the Saturday. Much better prepared this time and perhaps the 1 or 2 beers of carbo loading (sorry Tim Noakes) helped me to a much better day on the bike as we re-conned sections of the 2015 Absa Cape Route. This time with much less time for the guys having to wait for me on the ride and although extremely hot and enjoyable day out – proper nutrition and hydrations plays a huge part in endurance riding, be prepared.
A big thank you for the guys for having me join them and I wish all of them the best and good luck for those that will make the 2015 exxaro Absa Cape Epic team and for the others to keep on trying and working hard towards your goals. exxaro is doing fantastic work for developing mountain biking in South Africa and to be involved, even in a small scale, is very rewarding and satisfying, especially if I think about my own journey although different in the sense that I had to opportunity and did it for lifestyle and personal challenges as a reason. For these guys it is an opportunity that could be life changing in more ways than one and being developed as riders and as people, exxaro must be commended for.
It has been a truly inspirational couple of days and now to get back more frequently on the bike and I’ll be at the 2015 Absa Cape Epic showing my support for the exxaro team.
Keep going guys!