Gravel and (Fermented) Grape(s)

This last weekend it was back to stage racing and back on the bike was my mate Evert Ferreira with whom I started my cycling journey with back in

The stunning view from our Slanghoek Villa at Goudini Spa

The stunning view from our Slanghoek Villa at Goudini Spa

2011. How things have changed as back then it was me who started cycling and now Evert is one trying to get back into mountain biking after not doing that for more than 3 years. He felt the pain and climbing stairs this week will still be painful. What made up for the grovel on the gravel was the fermented grape- aka wine tastings we worked into our trip.

 

The Gravel and Grape race is hosted by The Breedekloof Wine Valley with Iqela Events and this valley is a gem when it comes to, not only great wines but also awesome mountain biking. The routes are a combination of some gravel roads, farm roads through the vineyards, jeep tracks and some fantastic technical single track. This was a true test of proper mountain biking, which although some sections might have been tough for beginner riders the overall routes everyday made for great views and great riding.

 

Like way back with my 1st Wines2Whales we again came to know the Sweepers (Alex and Riaan this time) really well as we struggled on Day 1 up to the 50km mark, before Evert decided that sense would prevail and there was no need to punish his body any further and called it the day. Off I went pushing hard the last 23km’s to make sure I would make the 6 hour cut off. Grinding it out and pushing harder than at the Absa Cape Epic I actually managed to come in with half an hour to spare. The route was amazing and the combination as in the name of gravel roads, vineyards and testing single track makes this a must return to event.

 

After the punishment on the bike we decided to explore some wineries in the area and as per our Google search the previous night, off we went to Jason’s Hill Private Cellar. We were fortunate enough to meet the winemaker Ivy and just had to taste all the cultivars on offer. (Marius Hurter we can definitely go there for the Sauvignon Blanc, well for all the wine as Evert and I walked away purchasing stock for consumption when back in Cape Town).

Evert sampling some of the finest at Jason's Hill. Think this was the Cab - to go well with cigars #JustSaying

Evert sampling some of the finest at Jason’s Hill. Think this was the Cab – to go well with cigars #JustSaying. Heat stroke might be an explanation for the England jersey or perhaps because he is Mr. CCC

From there we went on to Slanghoek Cellars and again just had to sample most of what they had on offer and again we walked away with stock for later consumption.  What more does one want for a Saturday, great mountain biking in the morning, wine tasting in the afternoon and a braai (barbeque for my non South African friends) (2nd one) in the evening – the Perfect day….

So many good wines, so little time to taste them all

So many good wines, so little time to taste them all

With Ev’s body aching a bit after being back on the bike and he claiming his new MTB shoes are great for walking we endeavoured to take on stage 2 – 68km with 1100m of climbing. We started off through the vineyards and quickly onto a short technical single track and through the vineyards again past Du Toits Kloof Cellars onto some amazing trails that looped into the mountains and also where the Gravel and Grape Riders caught up with us: “pass, pass, pass…and so we let them pass”. With the undulating single track taking its toll on my partner, but him hanging in there enjoying every moment of being out on the bike, suffering and all, we reached the 2nd water point and regrouped with refuelling the bodies (the water points were amazing). From here we starting climbing onto a very technical switchback climb into the mountain and the strains of mountain biking started to take its toll again as the hard work and technicality proofed a challenge to my mate. We reached the split on the route where the long and Lite went its different ways and as Ev remarked” Castle Lite for me” and our ways parted and sense prevailed again and good choice by my mate because what followed was a proper technical climb and descent, followed by another climb onto a ridge and technically down a

Riding besides the scorched earth Evert roaming across the single trail towards the on route photographer, aka me

Riding besides the scorched earth Evert roaming across the single trail towards the on route photographer, aka me

valley – routes that were made for mountain biking and I loved it. It helps being fit and in shape as one can enjoy it so much more. I really loved day 2 of Gravel and Grape as we got properly tested again on our mountain biking skills, I did fail once however as I decided to take a dive off my bike and broke the fall with my quads on a rock. Not the best place to land as the dark blue / yellow mark on my leg would confess to. Still it was a great day out.

 

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Riding through Slanghoek Cellars, my partner still in sight. So much wine…. The guys from Slanghoek and Breedekloof really did a great job in putting the route together and hosting a great event with Iqela Events

Another braai in the evening with watching some sport on TV whilst enjoying the local fermented grapes and another super day in Africa IMG_8944done. One should really look at doing this event next year; it really has a lot to offer on and off the bike. Day 3 was shorter with more single track on offer and the local Breedekloof Winery guys have really outdone themselves with some amazing trails that were built. Again one had to work your way upwards to enjoy it and in-between they took us onto the local Cross Country track that was built (on which our KTM sponsored rider, Johann Trotzky, trains a lot as it is in his backyard. Al the best to him and good luck to dad Hennus and the committee in getting a race hosted there shortly). I’m glad I am doing marathon riding as going up that XC track was super tough. From there we went up the mountain on single track again and Ev had to work hard again, but in good spirits and pushing forward, we arrived at the Lite and Long split. “See you at the finish Ev and make sure there is a cold beer” and we

Our lead out vehicle - we thank you for making sure we have wine

Our lead out vehicle – we thank you for making sure we have wine

parted ways and off I sped again to catch up with the guys in front.  Again, super trails and great single track for our pure mountain bike enthusiasts, you have to get yourself out there and ride these trails. Big kudos for Evert that was willing to ride with me and reunite the original Phat Boy combination for this race. Huge respect for attempting it just as you entered the Vets category of cycling. It was great to be out on the trails with him again, always fun and we always keep on going.

 

Besides the coldish weather and cold water river crossing this was really a great weekend away for a boy’s breakaway or taking the whole family with to enjoy the facilities at Goudini Spa. Make sure you put this race on your calendar for 2017.

 

After the Cape Epic is has been really tough to keep self-discipline and stick to the healthy and right eating regime. I managed to get some training and events done, but how does one keep everything on the straight and narrow with temptations that were out on one’s path that started on the 2nd of April with a bachelors. No need to elaborate. This was followed by the wedding on the 9th that was followed by a 40th on the 16th. See where all this is heading as it did not stop there as the following weekend was the Cell C Arabella Challenge where good friends met and Wildekrans wine was on offer, there was some mountain biking as well and then after that on the 30th another epic 40th birthday party of abovementioned friend Evert and then of course this past weekend Gravel and Grape in the wine country with some 3 days of braaiing and so forth.

 

Needless to say that at this stage I am as reluctant as the other gender of the Homo sapiens specie after they have just turned 30 to climb onto a scale after showcasing your body weight…

 

Until the next adventure and be su

It really was beautiful out in the mountains. Much better than being stuck in an office

It really was beautiful out in the mountains. Much better than being stuck in an office

re to be on the lookout for the Cederberg 100miler in September, entries are open.

Some hills were just too much and a welcome breather to quickly recover before it is back on the bike and forward again

Some hills were just too much and a welcome breather to quickly recover before it is back on the bike and forward again

Some great images from Chris Hitchcock at the event galleries can be seen here

Again my Mitas Tyres were superb and I had no hassles and handled the technical route with ease

Some of the gravel from Gravel and Grape #FastMoving

Some of the gravel from Gravel and Grape #FastMoving. See you all at Cederberg 100miler Evert Ferreira, Willie du Plooy, Rob Kucera, Richard Coram (Thinus Crafford & Andrew Rogers?)

The image says it all. Thanks Chris Hitchcock

Some great images from Chris Hitchcock at the event galleries can be seen on PhotoSport’s website

Always in good spirit no matter what the trails dished up

Always in good spirit no matter what the trails dished up

Seriously Fun

After the months of dedication and discipline in training for the 2016 Absa Cape Epic (it was worth it) it was great to be out on the bike at the Cell C Arabella Challenge over the weekend hosted by Stillwater Sports. No pressure and just having fun and of course a couple of glasses of wine.

The weekend started off with the Mother of all storms that fortunately settled the trails and we had super riding conditions

The weekend started off with the Mother of all storms that fortunately settled the trails and we had super riding conditions

A weekend at Arabella Hotel and Spa is always a world class and wonderful experience, being it for and event like the Arabella Challenge or just for a weekend breakaway. The whole event is very much family based and has a very relaxed and chilled atmosphere and vibe going with it. The weekend was spent with a lot of familiar faces although the usual suspects were sorely missed, but wine induced or not – the weekend was serious fun. Great company and the amazing trails made for fun weekend, not even the monstrous storm that hit the Cape on Friday afternoon and evening could damper the weekend celebrations. I even managed to play 9 holes of golf after our ride on Saturday. The first time in over three years and the least said about it the better. Congratulations Rob Kucera and Jon Adams, myself and Wayne Siepman are demanding a rematch. #GolfHacker

Congrats to Rob Kucera who tactically attacked on the 1st climb of Day 1 to kick my butt in mountain biking and golf. Super weekend Rob, was great fun

Congrats to Rob Kucera who tactically attacked on the 1st climb of Day 1 to kick my butt in mountain biking and golf. Super weekend Rob, was great fun

 

Since the Cape Epic I have not been on the bike as much as I would have liked to, purely because I do not like the winter and being cold. Getting up early and going riding in the dark on your own (and finishing in the dark) is not fun, but I have also been lazy and the fact that for the last 4 weekends I’ve had a bachelors, wedding, 40th and the Arabella Challenge the enjoyment factor of these did not contribute much to me getting 2 days of riding in over the weekends. And now heading for the 5th event in a row with another 40th celebration this weekend to continue the ‘perfect’ lead up to having to be ready for Gravel and Grape 3 day MTB race come the first weekend of May – I will be suffering. The Iqela Events team must be forewarned that we are looking forward to a fantastic 3 days of riding.

 

Saying that, I can’t wait for this race as I will be joining up with the Original KTM Phat Boy, Evert Ferreira as we once again combine as riding partners after Ev’s sabbatical of 3 years. Will be awesome to have him back on the bike and at least I know that I won’t be enjoying a post ride beverage on my own.

Cycling the 13km back from Wildekrans to Arabella for the golf with Corné Barnard from Rockhopper Adventures leading the KTM bus out

Cycling the 13km back from Wildekrans Wine Estate to Arabella for the golf with Corné Barnard from Rockhopper Adventures leading the KTM bus out

I know I have to stay focussed and keep on training whilst keeping with my diet if I want to stay on top of the Obelix curse and prevent myself gaining weight and growing back into my clothes of 6 months ago. With all these social activities and horrible winter weather of cold and darkness it will take once again epic like dedication and discipline to keep this slim physique. Let’s hope I can defeat the laziness over the

We just had to enjoy a cold beverage from Honingklip Brewery on the last day. It went done superbly after 16km of single track at Wildekrans

We just had to enjoy a cold beverage from Honingklip Brewery on the last day. It went done superbly after the hard work of riding 16km of single track at Wildekrans non stop.

next couple of months to be in top riding shape when spring commences. I know it will be tough, but it is better than having to buy a new wardrobe again…