Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trans Baviaans 2013


The 2013 Trans Baviaans took place on Saturday 17 August. Danie Kotze, Pierre van der Merwe and myself entered a team again and we had my brother as backup driver. 

I left Bloubergstrand at 09:30 on Friday morning, picked Danie up in Sunning Dale and Pierre and my brother in Goodwood. We left Goodwood just after 10:00 and headed off to Willowmore. We arrived there at 16:00, registered and left for my cousin's guest farm where we stayed over for the night. In total they accommodated 27 participants on their farm on Friday night. We were treated to an excellent supper of Kudu steaks, chops, sosaties, sausage, veggies, salads and freshly baked bread! 

After a 07:00 breakfast, we headed off to Willowmore for the start of the race at 10:00. During the night we had a gale force wind and as we lined up for the start, a few drops of rain started falling. 

The race got under way at 10:00, by which time the rain stopped. The rout was the same as last year and we headed out of town past the golf course over some gravel tracks. The initial going was at a very sedate pace as over taking was quite difficult.
Once we joined the main gravel road to the Baviaanskloof, the pace started picking up. We were also fortunate to have the wind on our backs. We made good time and really enjoyed the beauty of the Nuwekloof Pass and passing through the awesome sight of high cliffs on both sides of the road. We made good time and reached the first water point at Vero's Restaurant after 2:09, where we were treated to "roosterkoek". We had a bit of misfortune as Pierre informed us that his rear gear cable has broken. After we had some refreshments, we set about replacing the cable. We were fortunate in that Danie had a spare cable. We set about the task and managed to get it right first time. Total stopping time was 17 minutes. 

The section to water point 2 was all downhill and covered the next 52 km at an average  speed of 28 kph with a maximum of 68. Due to the lack of rain, the river crossings was a breeze. All of them were rideable. We managed to maintain our good pace and reached Geelhoubos after a further 1:50, 10 minutes quicker than last year. We had a good recovery stop and got going again after 16 minutes.

The next section to Smitskraal included the climb of Grassnek Pass. Not to steep, but steep enough and a relentless grind to get to the top. Initially to road is fairly flat with a number of water crossings and then comes Grassnek. A climb of 200 meters followed by a descent of 257 meters. It took us 1:04 to cover the 20 km from Geelhoutbos to Smitskraal. Here we stopped for sosaties, wors and potatoes. Total stoppage time was 22 minutes.

The next section to Bergplaas included the "Fangs" and Holgat Pass. It took us 1:33 to cover the next 17 km. the slowest section of the day, but also the most number of climbs and highest ascent between any two water points. 671 meters of climbing. There is only one option under these circumstances. Put your head down and turn the pedals over! We arrived at Bergplaas at 17:55. Here we had the option of hot soup and coffee or tea plus various other items to eat. We also had a container with clean cycling gear shipped here. I initially decided not to use any if that gear, but realised after a while that my fleece vest and cycling pants was wet from sweat. I then decided to change everything for dry clothes, including two cycling tops, for warmth and my shower proof jacket over the whole lot. The dry thermal socks and gloves were perfect for the weather. When we left, after 28 minutes, the temperature was five degrees Celsius. 

Now it was downhill all the way go the Gamtoos River crossing. It was still light, so the going down Combrinck Pass was easier than last year. By the time we got to the Grootrivierpoort, it was dark and we could not really appreciate the beauty of the Poort. Water point 5 was moved 5 km back from the Hadley packing shed to the Komdomo campsite. We arrived here at 19:15 and were treated with a chip roll and chocolate flavoured milk. We recuperated, gathered some strength  and got going again after 21 minutes. 

The next 7 km to the Gamtoos River crossing was flat and then the climb up the Never Ender started. During the next 18 km we climbed 288 meters and it took us 1:17. By this tome a light rain was falling. We arrived at Zuurbron at 21:36. The end was on sight, so we only stopped for 10 minutes. 

The route from here to the Jeffreys Bays turnoff was along jeep tracks and did include some minor climbs. We were also fortunate to initially have a strong wind in on our backs, but then we headed SW and into the wind. We had a miner reprieve behind a hill, which was pretty steep, but when we got to the plateau it was grinding time against the wind. A steady rain was also falling by now. We caught up with two girls and for a while the five of us cycled together up the Jeffreys Bay tar road. We put our heads down and pulled away from the girls, which was a mistake! The finish was moved from last year, but the directions were not very clear. Both Danie and myself had some problems downloading the GPS tracks, so when we got to the Jeffreys Bay turn off, we turned left while we should have hone straight. Fortunately somebody in a vehicle, who new the correct route, saw us, chased us down and told us turn around. We lost about 5 minutes. The last 6 km was a steady climb to the finish in contrast to last year where it was mostly flat or downhill! There also were route guides at the circles we encountered and we reached the end after 13:03, 4 minutes behind the two girls! We an elevation gain of 3,203 meters and elevation loss of 3,949 meters. Total distance travelled was 226.42 km.






Sunday, August 4, 2013

Die Burger MTB


Saturday 3 August 2013 is time for the Burger Mountain Bike Challenge in Stellenbosch. The weather was awesome, the scenecry was out of this world and the challenge was great!


The starting time for our group was 08:15. A reasonable hour considering we had to drive through from Bloubergstrand. We arrived at the start at 07:30 and had some time to enjoy a cup of coffee before we got going. The weather was excellent with the sun out, no clouds, and no wind and not too cold. The temperature at the start was 8 degrees Celsius.

The first part of this race is a struggle. During the first 2 hours 16 minutes (136 minutes) we climbed 1,260 meters. That is nearly 10 meters of climbing for every kilometer travelled. It took me 2 hours to do the first 30 kilometers. We first scaled the “koppies” behind Coetzenburg and then had to go up Bothmaskop to the top of Helshoogte. We then had a bit of a downhill along the Old Helshoogte Pass, crossing below a reservoir above Idas Valley and onto Rustenburg. There we headed up again, but also traversed some nice single tracks, which took us past Delheim and onto Kanonkop. By this time I had been in the saddle for 2 hours 32 minutes and covered 39 kilometers. The route took us through vineyards, blue gum trees and more vineyards. The view was exquisite and from the highest point we had a beautiful view of False Bay. Unfortunately we were not here for the view and the legs had to do the work. We crossed the R44 by going underneath by way of a culvert. At this stage the majority of the climbing was behind us as we started heading back home. A couple of minor bumps until we got to Kayamandi and Papagaaiberg. These climbs were much easier than the ones we encountered during the first half of the race. Then past the Stellenbosch Cemetry and the historic Oude Libertas and onto the finish at the Stellenbosch Primary School.

Total distance was 59.54 km; total riding time, excluding stops was 3:33, with 4 minutes added for stops. We climbed 1,540 meters in total. A really pleasant day with a well organised event. It was good training for the up coming Trans Baviaans on 17 August!