Tuesday, 26 March 2013

ASG Tyger Valley MTB Challenge

On Saturday The asg Tyger Valley MTB Challenge took place at Tygervally college in Lynwood, Pretoria. Being only 12km or so from my parent’s house I chose to ride to the race and back to save petrol and get some “secret” training in ;). The route would be very similar to that of the the first Nissan race held at the same venue, so I knew what I was in for: fast, furious and pedal pedal pedal all the way! I was feeling confident, the little Tigress (my Pinarello Dogma XC 29er) had just had a quality service from Mike the mechanic @machanicmike at @EpicCycleShop, and a pre-race mtb ride on Thursday proved it was ready to rock and roll!
 When I arrived at the race I was happy to see my “span maaitjies” and our a[s]g PYcycling team trailer, everyone looking fit and ready to race! I did a quick check on my Continental tyre pressure, put some Squirt on my chain and made sure I had enough High 5 2:1 Energy drink and gels to keep me going throughout the race.
When the gun went, we had a bit of a “neutral zone”, with people bashing handlebars, fighting to get in the front of the pack. I was grateful for the first climb as it sorted out the riders pretty quickly. I soon got into a nice rhythm, and found myself getting stronger and passing guys as the kilometres ticked by. I knew that I had a decent gap on the other ladies but didn’t want to get complacent and pushed myself hard for a good time. Besides, there were so many male egos to hurt ;)

I really enjoyed the single track though Rosemary Hill and the forest sections. Single track and technical sections are always a relief as it gives you time to catch your breath back. Most of the race consisted of flat district roads with little climbing which made it super fast, but all the constant pedaling with a head wind does get a little tiring!
The sun started beating down and I felt ready for that finish line! One mean little climb marked the “you’re almost there” spot. A few kilometres later I was welcomed by a cheering crowd and awesome supporters. I was super stoked to hear that my teammate, Arno Du Toit, had won the men’s category, beating Andrew McClean by just 30 seconds! Other teammate, Jacques Pretorius won the 40km overall. Academy member, Heirich came 2nd in the 40km, Andrea de Boer came 4th in the ladies race and Edwill was 6th in the 70km.

An awesome day for the ASG MTB Academy!!
A big thanks to ASG for putting on a fantastic event and of course for being an awesome title sponsor, making the ASG MTB Academy possible.

Next event is the Provincial XCO at fountains next weekend.
Until then, keep the rubber side down.
Amy Beth

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Gauteng Provincial #1
The first leg of the Gauteng XCO provincial series, held at Thaba trails in Johannesburg South. The last few training rides on my new Pinarello Dogma XC have been awesome, it is really fast and I feel super comfortable on it! So I was excited to put it to the ultimate test; a cross country race. I was also feeling anxious, as the last cross country race I did was SA champs last year in July and I was worried that I had “forgotten how”. Thank goodness it came back to me, kinda like riding a bicycle ;)

Standing on the start line, I could see I had tough competition with Yolande Speedy and Yolandi du Toit next to me. The start was only about a 100m sprint before we hit the single track. Yolande got in first with me just behind her, she went slightly wrong on the first left turn, so I zipped in front of her, only to get passed again a few meters later. Yolande and I quickly got a big gap on the rest of the field. I managed to catch her and got into the lead about half way through the first lap. My CyclOps GPS was showing my heart rate in the red, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it. I got into a rhythm, keeping a high cadence and making sure to enjoy the single track and few technical sections that are the reason I love mountain biking so much!
I was surprised at how fast I was riding, it felt good, all our tough training over the past few months is paying off, the Pinarello definitely helping out!

The laps went smoothly, with almost no errors or crashes, my heart rate maxing out all the way! My lap times were consistent which is the most important thing. I looked behind me at about 3 km to go and saw Yolande catching me. I had a few sub vet men in front of me who were slower in the single track, I forced my way past them (politely) and pushed hard to the end. I was ecstatic to have won and pleasantly surprised by my performance!

My team mates, and the rest of the Academy members all did excellently, killing it with 8 out of the 12 getting podiums, and a total of 5 wins for the day: Arno du Toit: 1st U23, Paul Cordes: 1st sub vet, Joel Hieber: 1st Junior and Neville Ackermann: 1st Master.
This coming weekend is the first national XCO in Cape Town.
Until then, keep the rubber side down
Amy Beth

Training camp blog.

To kick off the 2013 season with PYcycling, Paul Cordes and Yolande Speedy organised a 7 day endurance training camp based at Matthys Beukes’ farm in Oudtshoorn. The crew consisted of Paul, Yolande, Arno Du Toit, Marcel Marais, Neville and Patsey Ackermann, Edwil O Niel and myself.
We decided to get the 12 hour trip done in one go, and left Pretoria at about 4:30am on the 27th of December. The ride was long, accentuated by my constant suffering from TB (Tiny Bladder) luckily the company was good, Paul was in his cowboy hat and him and Yolande played some arb wildlife spotting game that I still don’t understand! Entertaining none the less!

For the training camp, I would be riding two Cotics: a Cotic X cyclocross bike for the road, and a Cotic Rocket trail bike for mountain biking.
We started each day’s training at 5:30 to avoid the worst of the heat and allow for recovery time.

   Day  1: 28th December
Our legs were not feeling too fresh having done a long ride the day prior to a long day’s travelling, so we kept it easy, 3 hours out and back. In the distance loomed Swartburg Pass, a massive mountain shrouded in clouds. It reminded me of the road to Mordor. That’s where we would be training hills the next day, gasp!

The hours after the ride was spent chilling, eating, swimming, sleeping and relaxing. The sun sets really late in Oudtshoorn which allowed us to go for a “trail jam” session at about 5:30pm. Matthys has built an amazing xc course around the property which we played around on for about an hour session before dinner which worked up a good appetite! This trail jam session was my first mtb ride since I broke my hand at Burg n Bush. It was also the first time riding the 26” duel sus Cotic Rocket, I fell in the first 50m. My skills were sketchy but I’d get the hang of it and it felt great to be back on the trails again!!

Day 2: Swartburg Pass
We took an easy ride up to the base of the pass and kept a steady tempo heart rate to the top. Although it was long and pretty painful, I managed to keep a good, steady heart rate up both sides and I can say that I enjoyed the challenge and views!

Day 3: Robertson Pass
It was Yolande’s birthday, to celebrate we rode up and over Robertson Pass on the road, we had breakfast at the bottom and back again. The weather was great, with the pass was covered in mist which made for a pleasant ride. The tough part came in the last 20km where we did a 20 km individual time trial. Most of the TT was downhill, so it was fast. I enjoyed the speed and getting my heart rate up and I felt strong! This was one of my favourite days but I was tired and looking forward to the rest day. The afternoon was spent legs up, napping  and chilling. I skipped the trail jam that afternoon as I am suffering an Achilles tendon injury and didn’t want to put more strain on it. That evening was spent at a restaurant called Pal Jas where we ate Ostrich and drank red wine, chatting and laughing and reflecting on the past few days and the days to come.

Day 4: Rest day (New Year’s eve)
A well-deserved rest day for us all entailed 0 riding, just rest and recovery. It was New Year’s eve and Marcel was sick, Edwil had left and the others opted to sleep, which was definitely the wise decision! Arno and I hit the town, which was rather disappointing as there were only a hand full of people in each of the places we went to, dodgy characters at that! Never the less, we had fun but with only an hour sleep, 5 hours of riding the next day would be interesting.

Day 5: Base ride (New Year’s day)
Unlike the previous days which were spent in sweltering heat, today was cool and drizzly which was a relief. The terrain was undulating I enjoyed the ride. I spent the rest of the day catching up the lost sleep from the previous evening. When I woke up it was trail jam time! This time I felt more comfortable on the bike, I came off once pretty hard but otherwise it was great fun!

Day 6: Swartburg suffer fest (Paul’s birthday)
Today was by far the hardest day of the training camp for me, and one of the toughest days on the bike I have had! Paul’s birthday present to himself and us was a ride up Swartburg Pass, down the other side, then up for half an hour, down, and up again. My body was fatigued and Achilles tendon aching. I was far off the pace and my heart rate was 10% - 15% lower than it was the first time we did the pass. I pushed through, but man was I glad when it was done and I was in the pool! The rest of the day was spent in a state of near comatose. I felt better after resting and we celebrated Paul’s birthday in a more conventional manner at a great restaurant in town. The pain was forgotten as another awesome evening with excellent company was had.

Day 7: Steady State intervals and pace line.
The pain was remembered. Four 5 minute intervals on an uphill and a pace line back to the farm. We could all feel the past few days in our legs. The intervals were hard but good and I was surprised to see I was getting stronger with each interval! The pace line was a different story, I had never done one before, and clearly have a lot to learn.
Thanks to Cycleops, we were able to record each day of riding and analyse our data accurately every day. Paul and Yolande for organising the camp. Matt De Jongh from Cotic for giving me the Cyclocross and Rocket to ride. Matthys Beukes and family for accommodation and trail jam sessions. Paul, Yolande, Neville, Patsey, Arno, Marcel and Edwil for great company, awesome rides and fun times!
I am really happy with the last training block that Paul has put us through; it is exciting to start the 2013 season strong with a solid base! I am looking forward to riding with PYcycling for team a[s]g  Pinarello. I think the team is strong and plenty of successful races and mountain biking adventures are to be had!