Monday, 11 April 2011

Images from an awesome race with a great partner - Karien van Jaarsveld :D

Click here to see amazing photos taken by Karin Schermbrucker and

A few more thanks!!!!

This is the first time that I've been at home in a month and I'm exhausted! There are so many people and resources that go into making my race experiences possible and successful, and sometimes some very important people might not be explicitly thanked. This is not because they are not valued but simply because writing reports when I'm tired and struggling with WIFI connections in cafes can lead to mistakes and omissions. Consequently, I would like to apologise to a number of people for not saying a HUGE thank you that they truly deserve!

I'd like to say thanks to:
Ritch, Jon and Andy at
Martyn Salt and Matt Sanwell at
James Towlson from for providing me with Elete Water (electrolyte add-in) and Purple Extreme Chain Lubricant
My Mum and Dad :D

A massive thanks to each and everyone of you!!!!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Goodbye South Africa

We've just arrived at Heathrow after a night flight and now I'm waiting for a flight to Germany. I've hardly slept but at least I watched some good movies! This weekend we'll be visiting a bike festival - Gran Fondo - at Canyon in Koblenz and we'll also be having our annual team photoshoot. I haven't seen all of the guys from Topeak-Ergon Racing Team since Roc D'Azur last October, so it'll be really nice to catch up with everyone :D Right, where's the coffee!!!!

Tom Janas from Sportograf has some great photos of the Cape Epic and I'll have them up online soon.....

Monday, 4 April 2011

Cape Epic: Stage 7

Oak Valley to Lourensford
Distance: 65km
Climbing: 1700 metres

The night before the final stage was the first time that I had allowed thoughts of possibly winning the Cape Epic to enter my mind; however we still had one more stage to go and the race wasn’t won until we crossed the line at Lourensford. Just like the previous stages, we planned not to chase a race win or even a podium – we were firmly focused on the big goal of the overall win. The key to success in the Epic is consistency over the whole 8 days and that was what we set out to do: ride consistently well while slowly and safely chipping away at our overall lead in the GC. This is how the Bulls have been so successful over previous years, in fact last year they did not win a single stage but still took the overall race win. Our plan was to try and replicate their strategy.

Although we had approximately a 1.5 hour lead over second place we were still really nervous because we were fully aware that one mechanical or a crash could see us out of contention. During the warm up we noticed a creaking sound coming from Karien’s rear hub, a few minutes before the start we found ourselves changing her rear wheel. Yikes!!! Not long into the race Karien’s rear gears starting jumping perhaps because of a small misalignment due the different wheel. I told her to get off and walk the climbs the minute it started jumping because we didn’t want a snapped chain to contend with! We were so cautious on the descents; people watching must have thought we were crazy! At the highest point on the course we had closed the gap to the second placed team (Hannele and Leana); however because they were a long way behind us in the GC we agreed not to race them and to let them take second place if we were still riding together at the finish line. We didn’t want to risk any crashes or mistakes while chasing a podium spot that we didn’t need.

Once we saw the 5km sign to the finish I started to laugh and smile and to finally allow myself to acknowledge that we’d actually done it. We’d WON the Cape Epic after 37 hours 44 minutes of riding!!!!!! Wahoooooo!!!!!!!! The finish area was long and lined with huge crowds of cheering spectators. We started screaming and shouting – what an adrenaline rush, so cool. The media attention afterwards was unbelievable – so many interviews, photographs and autographs!! We even had a live TV interview and unbelievably we were able to get our words out without blunders!! Hahahaha :D

What we’re really pleased about is to have won with a 1.5 hour lead to the second placed team (Eva and Natalie) – this is important to us because it shows that we were the most consistent team over the 8 days despite the one hour time penalty incurred by Eva and Natalie for breaking the ‘no outside assistance’ rule. Hoooray!!! Last night I broke my abstinence from alcohol when we celebrated with two bottles of champagne ;)

It was a real pleasure to race with Karien, she was really strong and we made a great team. It’s so cool to share such an amazing experience with someone and to be so focused on the same goal. Karien is relatively new to mountain biking but despite her inexperience she was really professional and stayed calm the whole time. I expect her to be proudly and successfully flying the South African flag on the international race scene this year and in the years to come. Well done Karien – you’re an absolute star!!!!!!

A HUGE thank you to Dave and Jake (Karien’s partner) for supporting us so well day and night, we couldn’t have done it without you both!!!! Big thanks also to Corrie Moolman from Magura, Ian Williamson from Sram, and ‘Dangerous Doug’ from DT Swiss for their tech support. I’d like to thank USN, Banana Moon and West Logistics for sponsoring our Cape Epic team. I’d also like to thank my amazing team, Topeak-Ergon Racing Team, for allowing me to race as a guest on team USN. More thanks go to: Canyon for my new hardtail which was awesome and super comfortable; Continental for our tyres (X king and Race king) which were 100% reliable despite the challenging terrain; Torq nutrition which kept me fuelled for the entire race - the Torq single shots were invaluable at the feedzones; and to Compressport for providing us with fast legs everyday :D

Stage 7 results:
1st. Natalie and Eva  - 3:29.04
2nd. Hannele and Leana - 3:30.30
3rd. Karien and Sally - 3:30.37

Overall GC:
1st. Karien and Sally - 37:44.09
2nd. Eva and Natalie - 39:18.02
3rd Hanlie and Ischen - 39:24.09

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Cape Epic: Stage 7

Hooray, Wahooooo, Yipeeeee, we did it: We won the Cape Epic :D

Now it's party time!!!!!! More to follow.........

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Cape Epic: Stage 6

Oak Valley to Oak Valley
Distance: 120km
Climbing: 2700metres

Our aim today was to play safe and not to chase a stage win. We rode cautiously and conservatively and in doing so we finished in 3rd place. We’ve now consolidated our overall lead in the GC and we have approximately a 1.5 hour lead over the second ladies team. It’s going to be exciting stuff tomorrow because the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placed teams are all within 10 minutes of each other in the GC. Once again we’re going to try and stay out of trouble and not chase a podium spot for the stage.

The stage today had the most climbing out of all of the stages and it clearly took its toll on a lot of legs! It was a fun stage and the last 20kms finished with some of the awesome Oak Valley singletrails: smooth, swoopy forest trails. Lovely.

It’s all go today – we’re now off back to the race village for the podium presentations. We set off at 8.30am tomorrow, so we get some extra sleep. Phew!

Fingers crossed one last time!!!!!

Friday, 1 April 2011

The current race leaders :D

Stage 3 Race Win :D

Cape Epic: Stage 5

Worcester to Oak Valley
Distance: 145km
Climbing: 2350metres

This is going to be short blog….I’m super tired!!! As the stages go on I’ll probably make more and more typos!!!
The first 30kms were super fast today and we stayed in a huge bunch. We had a great start but then Karien had a tumble on a loose rocky corner. Fortunately she was OK but her back brake started to fail. Needless to say we started to panic! When we reached the feedzone she asked a mechanic to have a look but he said that they weren’t allowed – all they could do was offer us tools. Hahaha!!! What would we do with them!!!???? We set off again in the hope that we would make it to the second feedzone where there was neutral support.

It was pretty windy and it was super important to try to stay in packs. We were able to do this most of the time but sometimes we found ourselves alone battling with the wind. When we finally reached the tech zone the mechanics had a quick look at Karien’s brake but there was nothing that they could do….it was super ‘spongy’ but still working if she pumped it.

The climb at 100kms was rocky and never-ending!! The top of the climb and first part of the descent was really rocky and my forks for some reason felt super hard – I was getting quite a beating! At 125km were thought we were almost home, but no such luck…there were more climbs – not much in high metres but tough nevertheless because of the fierce wind.

When we thought we had 10km to go we saw a sign saying 5kms to go. Wahooo!!! I’m surprised that our whoops couldn’t be heard at the finish line!!!! We were rewarded with some sweet flowy singletrack to the finish :D

We crossed the line after 6 hours and 31minutes of riding, just 3 minutes behind today’s winning duo: Hannele Steyn and Leana de Jager. We’re really pleased for them – they had a fantastic ride today and in doing so made their first podium. Niki Fisher and Jenni King took the 3rd step of the podium with a time of 6:42. We’ve extended our overall lead in the GC by another 14 minutes. Two more stages to go until we reach the finish line in Lourensford on Sunday…..

Cape Epic: Stage 4 – Time Trial

Worcester to Worcester
Distance: 32km
Climbing: 800 metres

After such a long stage yesterday it was a relief to have a more relaxing day today. Our start time was 12:40pm so we were able to get an extra 2 hours sleep. Hooray! We woke up at 7:30am and I had a big breakfast of oats, granola and banana, followed by a big omelette. Yummy :D

Our bikes are dealing with the demanding terrain really well, but they still get a full check and tune by Dave everyday. So far we’ve changed a mech hanger which got bent when Karien decided to take a trip over the handlebars, we’ve had new gear cables, and our pedals have been rebuilt.

Riders set off in reverse order based on the General Classification (GC), so we were the last ladies team to set off. The second placed ladies team (Hanlie and Ischen) went 6 minutes ahead of us.

The weather was much cooler today; however it was quite humid. There was a strong wind to contend with which meant that we needed to stay close together and draft. The course was really good fun: very steep climbs and lovely fast, flowy downhills. Our plan was to ride cautiously and reasonably conservatively. We finished in second place - about 9 minutes behind Eva and Natalie (who were absolutely flying!) and 50 seconds ahead of Naomi Hansen and Jodie Willet (Australia).

We were about 3.5 minutes ahead of Hanlie and Ischen who are currently second in the GC so we’ve increase our lead to approximately 25 minutes. Yehaaa!!!

It’s back to our normal routine tomorrow: a 4:45am wake up and a 7:00am start. Now I’m off to see the ‘bum doctor’ to get a saddle sore seen to! It’s going to be a long day again tomorrow as we make our way from Worcester to Oak Valley (145km with 2350metres) and I don’t want a pain in the bum for 6+hours!!!!