Now what!?

It has been 5 tough weeks of getting up very early to get in a cycle and stay up to speed with the Virgin Active Epic Battle challenges. Seeing that I am not really partaking in any significant event other than the 109km Cape Town

This initiative by Virgin Active has been brilliant. When is the next one?

This initiative by Virgin Active has been brilliant. When is the next one?

Cycle Tour and 55km Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB, I grabbed the opportunity to follow some specific riding goals when Virgin Active announced their Cape Epic Strava / API based challenges and to stand a chance to win a 2018 Absa Cape Epic entry.

Or maybe I just missed coach Alasdair Garnett from The Practice telling me what to do each day in the lead up to the 2016 Absa Cape Epic. Perhaps I missed the suffering or got tired of aimlessly wondering / riding through the streets and trails of the Western Cape. Anyway, I think the concept is brilliant and it certainly helped me to get focused and sort of fitting into my clothes again. (PS: some feedback of the ‘fight’ with the Fashion Police at work – they are apparently slowly but surely getting my dress code

Fortunate to have the Table Mountain Trails & Greenbelt open for us for riding in Cape Town and played a part in getting that altitude required in the challenge

Fortunate to have the Table Mountain Trails & Greenbelt open for us for riding in Cape Town and played a part in getting that altitude required in the challenge

up to their standards).

 

Over the 5-week period there was a speed, 100km minimum, once off elevation, total distance and total altitude ride with different criteria in each to achieve to qualify for the draw of the 2018 Absa Cape Epic

Well done Dom. Conquering Chappies from Noordhoek side. Ready for the Cape Town Cycle Tour!

Well done Dom. Conquering Chappies from Noordhoek side. Ready for the Cape Town Cycle Tour!

entry. After 48.7 hours and 919km all these goals were achieved. Now we wait and see.

 

As a general aimless wanderer with most things in my life it great to have ‘someone’ tell me I need to achieve this and that and it just shows that when training it helps to have goals and plans. One is more focused to achieve something, well I am. Tell me what to do and I will go out and do it! (Probably in my own way)

Early morning in Camps Bay meeting Mr. Andrew Norman for what turned out to be an awesome ride in the rain.

Early morning in Camps Bay meeting Mr. Andrew Norman for what turned out to be an awesome ride in the rain.

 

What challenge is next, I’m not sure. This weekend I am doing the mountain bike leg of the Fedhealth XTERRA Grabouw Lite as part of the Drug Free Sport / I Play Fair team of South African Institute of Drug Free Sport CEO, Khalid Galant and prominent Drive Time KFM Radio Presenter Rob Vember. So, no pressure in me performing. Just kidding, we are out and out going to have some fun and create awareness for Drug Free Sport. Let see how my 14km MTB Sprint goes. Good luck Khalid with the swim and Rob with the run (hopefully you don’t wait too long for me). Thanks Nikki Ferreira for putting this all-in place, as they say: Just Add Milk (Let’s see that Social Media happening)

 

The Trainee - There will be no wind on the 12th of March and you will complete the Cape Town Cycle Tour Dominique

The Trainee – There will be no wind on the 12th of March and you will complete the Cape Town Cycle Tour Dominique

Now back to ‘student’ Dominique de Lauwere and her journey to her 1st Cape Town Cycle Tour. Over the last few weeks I took Dom on parts of the route for her to experience the different climbs and descents to realise that she can ride it. Riding the Cycle Tour does not have to be a sprint and one should manage your expectations and the goal of the 1st one is to finish and not worry about time, especially if training time has been limited and work interfered with the training program.

I’m sure Dom will be fine a she has shown the determination and will

The Riding Group, coach, trainee and Nairo Quintana (what are hills Jacky McClean?)

The Riding Group, coach, trainee and Nairo Quintana (what are hills Jacky McClean?)

to do it, whilst also enjoying the cycling (And we miss our other riding partner – you know who you are Jacky M). One day of grit for 109km and getting as much time as possible on the bike in the next two weeks before the ride on the 12th, whilst also not overdoing it with too much exertion of too long and tough rides. Now Dom has been keen for training rides no matter how hard the wind is blowing and or the daunting tasks of going up Chappies and Suikerbossie climbs for the first time. I believe this will and determination to do it will stand you in good stead Dom and get you to the finish line. (If not I will retire as a cycling adviser and go back to talking about front row play in rugby)

 

In a previous life at work we discussed targets and goals and Mr. Shane Colloty was always adamant that a target is something one hits and a goal is something you want to achieve.

The Virgin Active Challenge is finished, so now what!? What is next? (No Thinus! I am not doing a triathlon). The search is on for the next set of goals….

I rode the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour MTB stage race recently and realised that every extra kg on the bike makes a difference - no more Pistachio ice cream

I rode the Fairtree Simonsberg Contour MTB stage race recently and realised that every extra kg on the bike makes a difference – no more Pistachio ice cream

Just thought I'd share and early morning sunrise on my way to work

View 1: Just thought I’d share and early morning sunrise on my way to work

View 2: Always great scenery riding over Chapmans Peak, especially on a beautiful that like this one was

View 2: Always great scenery riding over Chapmans Peak, especially on a beautiful that like this one was

View 3: The view from behind of the R304 outside Stellenbosch

View 3: The view from behind of the R304 outside Stellenbosch

The facial expression says it all with nearly 1600m of climbing on the 55km route of which most was single track at the Simonsberg Contour Ride - eina!

The facial expression says it all with nearly 1600m of climbing on the 55km route of which most was single track at the Simonsberg Contour Ride – eina!

Sexy legs. Especially the one with...with the Wines2Whales socks on

Sexy legs. Especially the one with…with the Wines2Whales socks on

Ice Cream, Gum Guards and Mud Slides

The KTM Boys and Peter ;) From left to right: Myself, Rob Kucera, Thinus Crafford, Peter Varrie (Recover soon Peter - he had a bad fall), Andrew Rogers and Marius Hurter

The KTM Boys and Peter 😉 From left to right: Myself, Rob Kucera, Thinus Crafford, Peter Varrie (Recover soon Peter – he had a bad fall), Andrew Rogers and Marius Hurter

As most know I attempted my 5th Wines2Whales Adventure this weekend and to ensure it was a real challenge numerous obstacles were thrown my way, some self-inflicted and others from the Loving Mother Nature.  Now for protection from my numerous fans rooting for my athletic success I won’t mention the names of my friends that forced alcohol down my throat in the lead up week to the event. Yes, there was Tequila involved when I found myself out on a great evening Tuesday night and then the next day there was some more of the beautiful gold coloured liquid from Mexico, which brings us to Thursday and race registration and one cannot be unsociable and must enjoy a few beers with your mates and friends you haven’t seen in ages.

Big to smaller in the Ice Cream challenge; Marius, Rob, myself and Thinus in the start chute before we are about to ackle the race defining hill) Photo Credit: Alexa CunningHAM!)

Big to smaller in the Ice Cream challenge; Marius, Rob, myself and Thinus in the start chute before we are about to ackle the race defining hill) Photo Credit: Alexa CunningHAM!)

 

So Friday arrived and up the mountain we went (400m climbing in the 1st 5km, which is “moerse baie”!) on what would turn out to be a memorable adventure. Myself and riding partner Thinus Crafford had a social bet in racing against Rob Kucera and Marius Hurter (Rocking the orange of KTM Bicycles), the prize a 2l tub of ice cream to each member of the winning team. Now with both of them 100kg or slightly above we thought we were really in with a shot of tasting that sweet ice cream of success. But that was not to be. Rob and Marius rode a tactical superb race as they gunned it from the start, exploiting my climbing weakness and conquering the hill and leaving us behind eating dust, literally and figuratively. Now not making excuses at all but around 40km into the race I hit a solid brick wall so to speak, no energy and nowhere to plug in to recharge, coupled with that a stomach that wasn’t appreciative of my lifestyle choices earlier in the weak, my fastest gear on the day was granny gear and that was just to keep forward motion in trying to reach the finish line on day 1.  So day 1 was not pretty as I had to tough it out through keeping a stomach in check and to make it even more challenging a back that decided pain in the lower back at every little incline is what you will experience. Any hopes of catching the ice cream leaders were ripped from my mind as I struggled up the Gantouw pass step by step with no energy and having to rest to stretch an aching back every few steps. A BIG thank you to Thinus who came down to fetch my bike and pushed both bikes up the pass resulting in hamstring cramps for him a bit later as we started on the single track stretch. I say thank you, but I missed my bike to lean on whenever the pain got too much. Thanks TC, we might still have been on the mountain if you did not come down to help. We limbered to the finish at granny pace, knowing that the next day could only be better. But enough about me on day 1, Thinus decided to fall like three times, mostly in sandy patches and for no reason at all. It did pay off at the end as the photo we posted of him in his natural state resulting in him winning a new Suunto Traverse watch and head lights. Worth the pain I would say.

What one looks like when you look for all the dusty sandy places to fall.

What one looks like when you look for all the dusty sandy places to fall.

Thinus made it on stage to mince a few words with Max Cluer on why he is such a filthy person

Thinus made it on stage to mince a few words with Max Cluer on why he is such a filthy person

Great prize to win. Thanks Suunto for his new Traverse watch

Great prize to win. Thanks Suunto for his new Traverse watch

Having had a proper meal and big meal on Friday night in the Food Lovers riders tent and cleansed the body of all the poison’s elements in the system, I was ready for day 2 which was evident on the climb out of the race village as my partner thought he was still going to wait for me as I sped past him to continue the drive to make up time in the ice cream challenge. Now Marius prior to the race told us to make sure we have our gum guards for the ice cream challenge as it will be tough out there and we should be ready. We pushed ourselves in trying to make up time as we both are pretty good technical riders and today was a single track play day. The previous evening rain fell and at some stage I found myself sliding sideways though mud on approach to a single track entrance, I knew this was going to be a fun day. Having gotten control back of the bike I dually got off and walk the remainder until we could ride again. We did really well and after the 3 falls on day one, Thinus managed to fall only once today and that in a switchback with a spectator crowd from opposite the gorge letting him know that they saw him fall. In fairness, it wasn’t quite his fault as the rider in front of him stopped in the middle of the switchback. Hampering our progress that dreaded lower back pain attacked again which made climbing tedious and painful with me having to get off the bike at times to stretch out my back in the hope it will become better. It did not, but on we went and we would have made my brother-in-law Johan Labuschagne proud as we even skipped two water points in our quest to taste that ice cream. It did not quite work as we were 3 minutes slower than the pair from Team Westin, Rob and Marius but it was a much closer day after the 30min we lost on day 1.

Felt much better day 2 after proper nourishment in recharging my small body. Great food from Food Lovers

Felt much better day 2 after proper nourishment in recharging my small body. Great food from Food Lovers

We all stayed at the lover Arabella Hotel and Spa during the event which resulted in some quality time spent with great people at an awesome venue. Thanks to Wayne and his staff for looking after us and to the support team of Marilize, Hannetjie and the Hurter kids. Over the weekend we have been watching the weather closely, even closer than most farmers would do, and heavy rain was predicted. To our surprise on Sunday the weather seemed cleared and we were distrustful of the weather man and his predictions. How wrong were we, with word of approaching rain we stood in the start chute (with just a cycling jersey on me) hoping it would stay away. Then after racing to position ourselves over the first kilometre the rain started to come down and wind picked up. Did someone say summer (Southern Hemisphere) and it is 1 November! Where the freaking heck did that storm come from, gale force winds with rain pelting into the exposed parts of your body (which in Lycra is a lot) with slippery mud forming with every drop of rain. Now Mr. Ride-and-Fall apparently had a fall at the Houw Hoek switchbacks which I did not see, but the next fall was the worst of all. Importantly he did not wear his mouth guard for the challenge and as I came up the trail being naturally slower I saw his bike in the bushes and no rider and then him lying on the ground, knocked out cold. Yes it is serious as it could have been worse, fortunately Thinus was okay and we moved him out of the way to the side of the trail to find himself after he has been very groggy.  After a couple of

Fantastic to be able to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa. Thanks Wayne to you and your team for always great service

Fantastic to be able to stay at Arabella Hotel and Spa. Thanks Wayne to you and your team for always great service

minutes we decided to move on the next water point as it did not make sense to sit around in the pouring freezing rain. We moved on at my pace, which is very slow for him and once we fought off the elements we approached the doctor at the next water point with Thinus disappearing into the ambulance for a private interview from the doc to make sure he weren’t concussed. Fortunately all was good and he could actually remember his partners’ name. Thanks for the help Alexa Cunningham to get the doc to look at Thinus. Off we went from there to slip slide our way through numerous muddy trails with me tucking and rolling to avoid a tree stump a slid onwards toward the finish line. For good measure Thinus took his 3rd tumble on the day as we rode over the waterfall section, fortunately that was that for the day as we made it to the finish matching the time of Team Westin on the day but still having the day 1 gap separating us as we ended and adventure full of character testing challenges and fighting the extremes of the weather in the Cape.

 

From big to smaller again as we "represented' our tyre sponsor in Mitas Tyres

From big to smaller again as we “represented’ our tyre sponsor in Mitas Tyres

Lessons learned from this experience is that when you are an athlete in training, try and avoid Tequila in the lead up to your event as it comes back to haunt you, make sure you wear a gum guard if you are a serial faller off your mountain bike and mud sliding can be fun but also dangerous and make sure I have a gas mask ready for sharing a room with my riding partner at the 2016 Absa Cape Epic (You all know who I am talking about)

The FNB Wines2Whales is an awesome 3 day stage race and I have been privileged enough to know have completed five of these. Thank Michael Meyer and the Stillwater team for your support and putting together such a world class event.

 

PS: Don’t tell my pharmacist sister I rode the last day on pain pills to get to the end also bad luck to Andrew Norman who had to pull out on day 2. I know you were really looking forward to doing the event. Next time. To Ashleigh Haigh-Smith good luck in doing all 3 events, you will be super fit come this Sunday and lastly, do you think Marius and Rob would mind if I courier the ice cream to them…

After conquering the extreme weather conditions, nothing beats a hot shower - dirty apparel included

After conquering the extreme weather conditions, nothing beats a hot shower – dirty apparel included