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…

This is serious

With two weeks to go before I have to go to extremes to finish some 8 day mountain bike stage race with my friend Thinus I decided that it is time to become more serious and focused on the event. So from now on just seriousness in whatever brain impulse send to my fingers to type, I promise I have no control sometimes, the mind wants one thing but the body does something else. This is precisely what happened at the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge as I was descending down a very sandy switchback, my mind knew exactly what to do, or not to do and then your body still go and do it. Make sure you have momentum, weight back, stay off the brakes and just run through the sane – but NO! Let’s think about the front wheel getting stuck and then making it happen and in the process providing a spectacular tuck and roll for the string of cyclist behind you. Serious stuff I tell you and being a branded rider makes it even worse and then you also know people that has caught up to you from the next batch, aka Mr. Speedster Craig Kolesky.

#HappyFace

#HappyFace

The last time I saw a leg look like this was when Thinus bought some land at the 2015 W2W Adventure race

The last time I saw a leg look like this was when Thinus bought some land at the 2015 W2W Adventure race

 

But enough of that, two weeks to go and I am sure Thinus has a few butterflies roaming around (i.e. flying and crawling out of cocoons) in the stomach, I know I can feel the nervous excitement and I have been through this all before. The commitment one makes when deciding to ride the Cape Epic is immense as you are committing to someone else to give it your all to be ready and fit to ride for 8 days. It is not just about the time to train and the financial burden in paying and preparing for the race, but that camaraderie of knowing that you and your friend are both in it and committed to finish a bucket list event. I hope I have trained enough. To Loriaan, Thinus’ wife, you will soon have him back and come Easter I am sure Thinus won’t be going out for a bike ride and be spending time with you and Thiaan. Perhaps I should arrange a men’s golf tour for that weekend….

 

On Saturday I went riding on the famous Jonkershoek MTB Trails with Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events and what a fantastic day out. To explore the Jonkershoek are with great company made the time go by quickly and soon enough my scheduled 5 hours was done after some nice decent climbs and super single tracks. Check out Iqela Events’ calendar and join us at these super events. Thanks for a great day out on the bike Pieter, we would have to do this again and I am really looking forward to the Gravel and Grape stage race.

Jonkershoek top tier with Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events

Jonkershoek top tier with Pieter du Plessis from Iqela Events

At the MTB Challenge on Sunday we did a lot of trails in Simonsberg in Stellenbosch area and to have seen the devastation post the recent fires were shocking. Where we rode through forest in 2015 was only wasteland left with no vegetation. If not directly affected by the fires one does not always take in the damage that was done, it really was scary to see the mountain landscape in its current state. Respect to all the firefighters.

KTM's on display in Jonkershoek - stunning view

KTM’s on display in Jonkershoek – stunning view

This weekend is the Cape Town Cycle Tour and I will be exchanging my mountain bike for my road bike. It will feel like I am cheating riding on something with such thin wheels. Now taking a dive off your mountain bike onto soft sand is slightly different from tuck and rolling onto tar – PLEASE everyone stay clear of me as I don’t want to fall and drop my friend Thinus a week before after training for close to 6 months. I will use my weight to push you away from me skinny cyclist – keep your wheels and handle bars far away from me.

 

Maybe some day I will be able to eat again (12kg's down from beginning November, no too bad)

Maybe some day I will be able to eat again (12kg’s down from beginning November, no too bad)

See, serious stuff. I know coach Alasdair has said it from the start to ride with Electrolytes, which I have never done and on Saturday Pieter gave me some of his special mix as we filled our bottles with fresh and clean mountain water. (I will not divulge the secret Pieter but I will definitely use your mix and ensure I get my electrolytes in)

The compulsory selfie

The compulsory selfie. Thanks for 5hours of fun on the mountain bike Pieter

May there be no more sleepless nights and let the excitement build up to the 13th of March as TC (aka Thinus Crafford or “Die Windhond”) and myself line up on the start chute at Meerendal Wine Estate to start our journey of perseverance, endurance, pain and hopefully some fun. Hopefully next week I will still be typing with all my fingers and both hands as all road cyclist would have stayed clear of the orange flash on the Cape Town Cycle Tour Route. (Check out my new 2016 KTM Revelator 3500).2016 KTM Revelator 3500

Two Triathlons and a Wedding – and W2W tapering …

The past weekend was probably not the best preparation for me leading up the FNB Wines2Whales Adventure this weekend as first off I attended the 2015 Absa Cape Epic Route Launch at The Westin Cape Town, which turned out to be a great evening with, as you guessed, too much red wine and a late night. Fortunate I had the experience to stay over at The Westin, so no driving with red blood in the veins, you see responsible. The obvious result of this endeavour was no training Thursday and Friday.

2015 Absa Cape Epic Route launch was a spectacular affair and I was not envious of those that have to climb 16,000m next year. Good luck Rob and Andrew, I know you will do it!

2015 Absa Cape Epic Route launch was a spectacular affair and I was not envious of those that have to climb 16,000m next year. Good luck Rob and Andrew, I know you will do it!

With KTM Bicycles we are involved with Iqela Events and the Slanghoek Triathlon (Mountain Bike and Road) took place on Saturday and Sunday. Now, not to do totally nothing I enter the long Mountain Biking long triathlon – AND NO! DON’T get excited, I entered in a team as I am still not doing the swimming bit (my triathlon buddies haven’t convinced me yet to jump in the water and seeing people forcing their bodies into tight fitting wet suits, I am convinced that that is not for me).

First time ever I had to pack a suit and a mountain bike

First time ever I had to pack a suit and a mountain bike

Probably one of the most beautiful settings for any event (Photo Credit - Me ;) )

Probably one of the most beautiful settings for any event (Photo Credit – Me 😉 )

So up at 4am to drive through to the venue, setup our bike display and get ready with team members Jörg and Leanne Knorr for the big challenge. Still feeling the effects of red wine in my blood I started to ride taken over from Leanne with a great swim and suffered my way around the Slanghoek Mountain that ended with ridiculously tight climbing switchbacks before giving over to Jörg for the run. In the end we ended top 5 in the teams… ja ok, there were only 11 teams, but top 5 is top 5!

Now that was Triathlon 1 done so on to the next phase of the weekend, the hour drive back to Durbanville and the Sandes wedding where super Ultra Distance Runner Ryan “Hedge Hog” Sandes and Vanessa Haywood (Local celeb, model and District 9 actress) got married at Nitida Wine Farm. So, all suited up I head off to the ceremony.

Suit Selfie

Suit Selfie

Bride Selfie (Ryan you didn't mind I hope?)

Bride Selfie (Ryan you didn’t mind I hope?)

I won’t bore you too much with how pretty the bride look, the awesome setting and how a beautiful wedding that was (you can read all about it in this weeks You Magazine or watch Top Billing on SABC3) and the fun time with new friends made and catching up with acquaintances and friends from the industry, even played Croquet (in a suit nogal) which was great fun. The evening flew by as the Red Bull bar was in operation and for those that know me there was also Tequila available – enough said as the wedding celebration moved into the early hours of Sunday morning. (And yes the tie and jacket came off early in the evening)

Now for the 2nd triathlon, yes the same Sunday! With numerous milliliters of Red Bull in my lean and mean mountain biking racing body, and with a dash of Tequila, sleep was hard to kick in, so early morning I decided to get in my car and drive back to Slanghoek for the road triathlon. Don’t get excited, I am not a fool or stupid, we did NOT enter the road triathlon. Who would do that the day after a wedding, and gladly I did not as the heat set into the valley and the lack of sleep took its toll during the day of representing my brand and watching friends participate (super proud Chantel) and KTM sponsored athlete Vicky van der Merwe win the event. A BIG mention to legend Jan du Toit for helping me out this weekend at the Slanghoek Triathlon, appreciate it Jan.

Thanks Leanne Knorr for swimming and making it possible to participate in the triathlon

Thanks Leanne Knorr for swimming and making it possible to participate in the triathlon

Jörg Knorr smashing it on the run. Thanks for the running part and helping out over the weekend

Jörg Knorr smashing it on the run. Thanks for the running part and helping out over the weekend

I did make a foolish statement during the day though as play on my mind was training for Wines2Whales and staying in shape and tip top form for the event as I said: “I will go for a quick ride this afternoon”. Needless to say this did not happen as my tired body, deprive of Red Bull by now just crashed on the couch and that elusive sleep struck me down. Rest at last.

It is probably not the best preparation and tapering leading up towards the event (one of my favourites) but I will have to take it as it comes. I know I will be rested. When competing or in my case, participating in an event one must try and be rested and not fatigued by too much training. I think, or sincerely hope, that I have managed to do that in between all the social events and lighter training schedule, as you all know by know that my Greyhound riding partner, Thinus Crafford, is slightly faster than me on a bike. But hey, here is to enjoying FNB Wines2Whales and to all those riding have fun out on the trails and be sure to be tapered properly – check this article out on tapering.

The next time I have to wear a suit will be quicker than you all think, so watch this space and no selfie this time. At least for wearing a suit you just have to taper mentally. Okay, I will say it in a public forum: Congratulations to Western Province for winning the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup.

*And no Nikki, I am not wearing a suit to the wine club Christmas party!

Two inspirational personalities and friends. Chantel Rall having overcome Cancer, having done Iron Man SA and now going for it a 2nd time. Our champion for Slanghoek, Vicky van der Merwe, well done and all the best for the Rio 2016 dream. You will be there!

Two inspirational personalities and friends. Chantel Rall having overcome Cancer, having done Iron Man SA and now going for it a 2nd time. Our champion for Slanghoek, Vicky van der Merwe, well done and all the best for the Rio 2016 dream. You will be there!

Oops, this can be out before the You Magazine

Oops, this can be out before the You Magazine