• Venue: Clanwilliam - Kaleo
  • Date: 23 April 2017
  • Distance: 160km
  • Climbing: 3070m
  • Position: 1st
  • Time: 6h36

Every so often you get a weekend where everything just feel so perfect! A lot probably to do that I've always been a nature-man that likes to get outside and experience small little towns, heartwarming people and the Cederberg Wilderness Area are one of the most perfect spots for that.

It was great to have the Krieks join for the weekend, Carel to drive taxi and support, while Christiaan threw himself in the game to try and finish this bad-boy! We've done many mtb tours and trips like this together when Christiaan was still racing, and their companionship has always been so relaxing as we all love the same things and crave the same experiences out of these journeys: good people, good coffee, gravel roads, open spaces, braai, padstal and much laughter.

I've had my time as a lap-racer, now I am a marathon racer. 100-Mile racing might be right at the end of the scale of what I am willing to push at the moment, but with our National Marathon series barely over 60km these days, I became eager to look for some new challenges and really happy for events like the Masgcor Cederberg 100-miler on our race calendar. Thank you Iqela Events for a well organised race and for a reason to visit the lovely town of Clanwilliam and the Cederberg.

This is a special race! Many of you would know the route through the Cederberg Mountains since it is a favourite destination for getaway weekend vibes. From Clanwilliam it is all the way uphill from the coastal side to Uitkyk-Pass at 1000m, then the short side of the Kromrivier Pass before the Grootrivierhoogte Pass that looks incredibly daunting when spotted from a distance and the Blinkberg Pass heading out of the Cederberg to the Koue Bokkeveld. Pointing the front tyre towards the finish at Kaleo Farm, the last 60-kilometers of flat riding was the toughest, a mind game to keep on going in the heat, constant pedalling and that damn ever annoying slight headwind. 

This race is a challenge! A great goal for a mountain biker. Maybe try it out in the 2-day Trek option first, sold out this year, so make sure you get your entry fast!

On the racing front it seemed as if I was the only serious rider who wanted to start of a bit more cautiously, but luckily I'm not scared of a sufferfest! Chris Cronje tried a murderous early break which lasted the first two hours, while triathlete, Jean de Villiers, and Charles Mcfall kept me company longest before riding the second half of the race on my own. Well, by that time everyone was on a solo mission to get to a CBC beer at Kaleo as soon as possible! 6h36 for me to conquer the Cederberg, with Jean in second and Chris in third.

Route  | Strava

Pictures  |  Sam Clarke

  • Venue: Stilbaai
  • Date: 15 April 2017
  • Distance: 61km
  • Climbing: 900m
  • Position: 1st
  • Time: 2h21

Three weeks after the Cape Epic and for me it somehow always seems to take rather long to get the body going again (or mind...). So packing the Subaru and heading to Stilbaai had a duel purpose, even though it is 300km away, the Amana Properties Stilbaai MTB Challenge was the closest CSA sanctioned race to Stellenbosch and it just so happened to be in this relaxed holiday town over a long weekend so there can be some quality relaxing before the training/racing get a bit more serious again.

I love doing these smaller events! Since our arrival it felt like we were just accepted into the Stilbaai family with everybody giving advice regarding where to eat, where to ride and what to do for entertainment over the weekend. The race village was so simple but it felt so comfortable with a beer garden, some stalls where PVB Knives in particular caught my attention making knives from recycled steel and beautiful wood so I had to purchase a souvenir, a family making pancakes to pay for their son's University fees, a school making burgers and hotdogs still priced liked the good old days at R15 each and a few more.

The racing was surprisingly tough... CP van Wyk, Stellenbosch student and rider for Team Mad Macs / Hazz lined up next to me so it was clear from the start there will be some hard pedal strokes, and the route was either on smooth district roads or really rough, sandy and rocky fynbos terrain. Man, it was proper hard during certain sections that the fast district roads were a real blessing! But it kept us on our toes. CP and I rode together for most of the way, but I just managed to build a gap on the toughest hill of the day to win by a bit more than 2-minutes. Yet another fellow Stellenboscher, Leonardo van Onselen, filled the podium. Thank you everyone especially Elza and Adolf for a fun day out!

Whenever I travel to these small towns I always see the potential. With so many gravel roads it can make for a real good MTB training camp and even more so if you enjoy coffee-shop-surfing as much as I do! Do not however expect fine dining, but do go and enjoy the fish restaurants on the coast, but nothing beats a braai or pizza by the beach anyhow. There are more than enough to keep yourself busy with hiking, beach-time or the Inverroche Gin tasting that was another highlight. Maybe we were also lucky to end up with the friendliest AirB&B hosts in Stilbaai,  they even planned and booked possible options for us before we even arrived, thank you Diane and Pieter for the great time at Villa Giverny!

News  | Suid Kaap Forum

Images  |  Madri van Rensburg

  • Venue: Western Cape
  • Date: 19-26 March 2017
  • Distance: 691km
  • Climbing: 15400m
  • Position: 14th (8th for team leaders)
  • Time: 28h21

This race. Always so special. Always so tough. Always untamed. Always a dream to do well. Always a challenge to do so!

For team Topeak Ergon it was not the most successful outcome for the eight days of racing. With Kristian winning the event in 2014 and Alban a few time podium finisher, the goal is only to stand on the top step of the podium. Things could have gone better for Alban with the extreme heat and allergies not working in his favour, but with a disappointing outcome there is just higher motivation for the future!

There were plenty of positives however with especially the unbelievable bond we have as a team coming to the fore in times like these, not just the riders, but all the team staff, sponsors and media crew. It was a great few weeks and months having some team members around for quite some time!

Thank you Jeremiah for another stage race in the bag, with hardly a mishap, now for the next big one at Trans Alps!

 

Video  |  Brady & Stefan  | Canyon - Road to the Cape Epic

Video  |  Sascha Bam-berg  | Teazer  | Prologue  | Stage 1  | Stage 2  | Stage 3  | Stage 4  | Stage 5  | Stage 6  | Stage 7

Pictures  |  Andy Eyring 

 

  • Venue: Kayamandi, Stellenbosch
  • Date: 15 March 2017
  • Distance: 19km
  • Climbing: 437m
  • Position: In the crowds
  • Time: 0h48

This event is always a little highlight of the year for me, and I am sure also for most of the riders and spectators. It takes place in Kayamandi, the informal settlement outside of Stellenbosch, and the home of the Songo.info charity.

Songo.info grew to so much more these days than just a small BMX track and putting kids on bikes, now with a Clubhouse, lecturers and coaches, it must be one of the coolest projects to be involved with as a child with less opportunities to help you getting set-up for a better and constructive future.

The race is a short one, just a showcase of the top racers around before the start of the Cape Epic. For the riders it is not just an opportunity to show their support to a great project, it also offers a leaker leg loosener doing some laps past the Clubhouse, BMX-track and houses of Kayamandi.

For our Topeak Ergon Racing Team this event is never important results wise for the team, but we all love going there and supporting. Kristian did however had a god showing against some short course specialist finishing sixth, while the rest of us enjoyed the vibe mid pack.

Video  |  Andy Eyring  | 1-lap behind Erik

Pictures  |  Brady & Stefan

  • Venue: Boland and Cape Town
  • Date: 6-12 March 2017
  • Distance: +/- 400km
  • Climbing: +/- 4000m
  • Position: Training
  • Time: 13h00

I really enjoyed this week of racing on the road bike! Last year I did not take part in the Tour and only did the CT Cycle Tour on the MTB right in the middle of the masses for the fun, mostly due to the fact that I did not have a road bike at that time, but boy, was this week cool racing with a whole different group of guys, interesting tactics, faster speeds, some argy-bargy and back where it all started for me on the road bike!

The Tour of Good Hope was my last block of training before the Cape Epic. In the past it always worked well for me to race the Tour de Boland as it is not that hard on the body, not very long days, but with the great benefit of getting some speed in the legs. The feeling of racing, getting up early, going to bed late is an added bonus to get use to the schedule I will also follow during the Cape Epic.

After a hard block of training with the Flying Czech, Kristian Hynek, I was glad to get three days of rest before the Tour, but definitely felt good to have a first day not being too hard, just a really fast motor pacing kind of day with 43km/h average speed for the 101km stage. The Individual TT I took as another full-on rest day, riding and managed to sneak in second last by a close 45-seconds! Stage 3 was going to be a real test and walked away very happy with the shape feeling super comfortable on Frranschhoek Pass, spending 40-minutes after that in and out of breakaways, and still could keep a hard tempo up Du Toits Kloof Pass finishing not to far off the pace at the top. The last day was once again super fast except for one lovely crosswind section and the final climb up Taal Monument where my mojo was lost a bit.

The CT Cycle Tour was sadly a bit of wasted energy... Andy Eyring (our team social media guru and ex racer) joined Kristian and me for what normally is a great pedal around the Cape Peninsula, but crazy wind, protest action and a sad fire in Houtbay caused the organisers to cancel the event. A sad day for the event and Cape Town, and also an unfortunate experience for us, not getting the training as hoped, waking up damned early and many hours of standing. It is all part of the game and at least we had houses to go to not like the 15000 people in Houtbay affected by the fire.

Looking forward to this block of road racing again next year! But now we are in the final stretch for the Cape Epic! All the team riders and staff are arriving soon ;)

  • Venue: Kaleo Farm, Op die Berg
  • Date: 10-12 February 2017
  • Distance: 262km
  • Climbing: 4800m
  • Position: 8th
  • Time: 11h26

The Tankwa Trek will always be one of my favourites! I did not take part in the first edition, but for sure enjoyed the technical trails and great hospitality since I showed my face the first time in the Tankwa Karoo. This year the event got an exciting boost with Momentum Health as their new naming right sponsor.

For our Topeak Ergon Team it was a great fit to test the bodies, the African terrain, some new equipment and get the team together for a little dress rehearsal before the Cape Epic in March. In many ways the weekend of racing and the training camp in Stellenbosch was a big success, but it maybe did not show in the results of the Tankwa. Everyday the results and bodies felt better, but it definitely did not showing true conditioning after a busy schedule leading up to the race.

Alban and Kristian unfortunately suffered some minor mechanicals every day, it did not really put us on a convincing forward motion, but in stead had us chasing to get back to the front bunch on day 1 and 2 after which they just did not have the best legs for a desired result. Day 3 was better with the team trying to take control of the stage, it played out a lot better placing 3rd and securing 5th overall. It was a great opportunity for our two EU boys to get use to the rough African racing and will undoubtedly come out of it stronger.

JB and I fulfilled the support roll for our leaders, giving them a pace back and helping to fix jockey wheels when it was required deserving of a pat on the back, but for sure I was not yet over the moon with the racing condition. Somehow I feel the last days were a bit much for me mentally with training camps and activities.

Now in the final preparation stage for our big goal, the Cape Epic, there is some targets to be reached and a last block of hard training before we roll down the start ramp at Meerendal!

Pictures  |  Zoon Cronje  |  Oakpics

  • Venue: Grabouw
  • Date: 28 January 2017
  • Distance: 72km
  • Climbing: 1400m
  • Position: DNF
  • Time: -

After a good and happy result at Attakwas, I was rather motivated for a good race at the Grabouw National Marathon, but the motivation was maybe a little too high and with the rest of the Topeak-Ergon Team also in Stellenbosch with some hard training days, my legs just could not handle the training load and recover for the revamped, shorter and punchier Series.

The National XCM Series went through quite a big change-over with the events all shortened from the 100-120km events to 75km and 50km events. It plays a lot more into the hands of the XCO specialist and event though I believe it will do my speed very well, I somehow also believe it is a little step back for the top elites that would like to perform on a world level, especially before the Cape Epic. Time will tell!

JB had a rather special race after a big travel from USA the day before to place 9th! Sadly Kristian could not start due to a stomach bug and for me the day just did not go right from the start. With blocked legs and a tired body, I could not handle the speed thrown at me and it just did not stop. I decided to slow down and was soon into the slower rider just taking a rest and hoping to recover for some more training coming up.

 

  • Venue: Oudtshoorn - Groot Brakrivier
  • Date: 21 January 2017
  • Distance: 121km
  • Climbing: 2500m
  • Position: 4th
  • Time: 5h05

It is very normal for all mountain bikers that enjoy their yearly outing to the Karoo for the Attakwas to have a love/hate relationship with this event! I've had good, bad and average races through the last decade or what, that the event through the Attakwaskloof has kept us entertained as the season opener here in SA. Never the less, for sure my favourite marathon race on the SA calendar! I love the toughness, the different climates and terrains you encounter, the journey from semi-desert to coast, because it's like a semi local race for me and I have so many supporters and friends there!

This year had a slight twist with Topeak-Ergon teammate, Kristian Hynek, joining me for the event, and thanks to Dryland, we could visit Oudtshoorn a few days early to give them a taste of the Karoo. Even joined them for an experience through the Cango Wildlife Park were two of my beautiful white lion brothers reside. Feeding the elephants at the Buffelsdrift Game Farm was their highlight though.

The race had three Cape Epic winners on the start line, each of them a favourite for the overall title in March and no doubt there would have been a flex of muscles. Sauser punctured just when the race got serious, I tried a few times to break away to give Kristian a easy ride, but it ended up being Platt and Kristian in the front through the Attakwas and it was for sure fun racing again! Susi did make a good comeback and managed to win the sprint against Kristian after dropping Platt in the final hills.

I am smiling about Kristian's 2nd, my 4th place, a good race and happy with the shape after some lekker training, just need to shake some leftover christmas cookies still. Sadly I lost a lot of time in the final third of the race after a slight hunger knock, rookie error running out of food, but glad I could hang on to the best Saffa position, will for sure pack more biltong and droëwors next time!

Thanks Paul and Sarka for the support and Dryland for yet another great event!

Video  |  

Media  | Tread Mag  |

Images  | Ewald Sadie  | Oakpics  | 

  • Venue: Mosselbay, George, Oudtshoorn
  • Date: 16-22 October 2016
  • Distance: 503km
  • Climbing: 9720m
  • Position: 3rd [4 stage wins]
  • Time: 19h31 

The Cape Pioneer Trek was the last event in a one month traveling expedition with Matt Beers. From not knowing the young man from Knysna too well, to walking away good mates with huge respect for him as a person and a cyclist.

The Cape Pioneer Trek made some drastic changes to their 2016 event. Apart from missing the 2012 edition, I did all of them since the inaugural event in 2009, and it is great to see how it slowly morphed into something that offers a great week away for all cyclist from where it started at as a real tough challenge only manageable by some.

The biggest change came in the form of three stage towns in stead of a daily move from one village to the next. Often you feel that the journey is fun, the traveling, the traversing of the Southern Cape, but for me staying at the same town for more than one day have more positives. The routes got more exciting with less transition days. The three stage towns are big with more than enough accommodation if that is your thing, also all the needed shops if you are short of something, and nothing beats unpacking your bag 4 times less!

The racing was great! A strong field that will always promise some exciting racing! Matt and I kicked off the prologue around the Mosselbay point with great vibes! We won storming through the course with a 1-min advantage on all the other teams, but bad fortune came our way. I picked up a small bug/virus and after a tough night sleep and high temperature, for the next two days I could not offer much racing wise. It was unfortunate and I’m still a little pissed off about it, but that is how the cookie crumbled. I felt better in the evening after the day three, and I told Matt, tomorrow we go!

It was the last day in George where I grew up and close to where Matt grew up on a farm, we wanted the stage badly! We went all out from the start and only the overall leaders, Team NAD, could stay with us and we managed to win our second stage! Felt so good to be able to race hard again!

That set of an aggressive racing spirit! On day five we won our third stage, attacking on the rough rocky Karoo hills on the way to Oudtshoorn. On day six we bagged our fourth with an attack on the rocky loose downhills around the Kammanassie dam having nothing to loose! And on the final day we tried again, it looked promising with only two teams sticking with us, but sprinting up a hill halfway through the stage, “snap!”, it ended with a broken chain. At least there were even more drama with some other teams and we managed to finish third, on the overall podium after an exciting week!

Thank you Full Sus magazine for partnering with us for this one, was great working with you guys! And my Topeak Ergon Racing Team for the awesome support, Paul Gibbings for wrenching, Steph Sawyer for rubbing and the amazing support we got along the way motivating us to fight back!

Video | Bigshot Media | Prologue | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5 | Stage 6 |

Images | Zoon Cronje | Prologue | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5 | Stage 6 |

Images | Oakpics | Prologue | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 | Stage 4 | Stage 5 | Stage 6 |

  • Venue: Em'seni Farm, Winterton, Kwazulu Natal
  • Date: 7-9 October 2016
  • Distance: 209km
  • Climbing: 2900m
  • Position: 1st [2 stage wins]
  • Time: 7h25

I’ve had the honour of racing the JoBerg2c stage race a few times which covers some parts of the Berg&Bush trails, but after many invitations by Farmer Gary, I never got the chance to experience the three-day Berg&Bush Descent. Until I made it my mission this year!

After the Isuzu 3-Towers stage race, Matt and I spent a few days in Pretoria with HB and Johan from Team Telkom to relax, rest and prepare for the last event in the three week trip. Since Matt and I did not know each other that well before, it was nice to bond a bit and I’m fortunate to race with such a good, well mannered and all round great guy.

Once we headed off to WInterton, for a brief moment, the event seemed like quite a logistical challenge with the registration and start a bit further away from the main race village. Maybe it was just because it was my first time at the event, but luckily things worked out easier than expected, and for sure now a lot more clued up how to plan things for next year. Yes, the event was that good, will for sure be back!

In the days leading up to the event and the drive there, Matt and I had plenty of time to discuss some race tactics, and we always came to the conclusion that it will be really difficult to win this race. It was one of the most stacked stage races of the year with all the XCM teams and XCO racers, for sure concerning us more, lining up. A podium would have made us happy.

As expected the race started flat out racing for the first trails unto the escarpment before the long single track down to KZN, it split the field and eventually two groups of five teams formed. Matt and I were in the front and problems whittled our group down to three and eventually on the last singletrack we got a gap to win the stage!

Stage two was made for the XCO racers. It was pain all the way! Brendon Davids and Alan Hatherly tried hard. So did Phil Buys and Gert Hyens. But it wasn’t until the steep Mike’s Pass that these two teams got away with only Matt and I able to follow wit the gap growing on the singletrack down. It was thirty kilometres flattish trails home and we hit it, Matt was power and we won a really special stage and opened our gap to almost two minutes to Team NAD. Happy!

The last stage had one real big challenge, the climb over the famous Spioenkop Mountain, filled with Boer-war history. Nobody was going to drop us in our very motivated state, and even though we could probably have pushed for another stage win, the mission was to bring it in safe to win the overall. We did just that staying out of trouble in a seven team stage win dash with Team Scott LCB winning the last stage.

What an incredible weekend! What a race to win! We were over the moon.

Thank you Farmer Gary and everyone involved in a really awesome event. The rough, natural feel trails is a winner as well as smooth organisation and a super relaxed atmosphere. We are so spoilt in this country! Till next year.

Report | Bikehub | Stage 1 | Stage 2 | Stage 3 |

Pictures | Gavin Ryan |

 

Videos |

 

 

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