Monday, May 31, 2010

Magalies Monster

What a race.
I am reminded why this race is my favorite one of all. It has more technical singletrack and seriaas rocky descents than any other single stage of any MTB race I have ever done, bar none.
It really does.
From a ride over a cement pipe, to large fixed rocks round Bufflespoort dam, to smooth flowing singletrack on the hiking trails in Mountain Sanctuary Park, to hectic smaller loose rocky descent to a portage river crossing and up a to the top of an almost-cliff, followed by a long technical climb on cut grass with loose rocks interspersed and a downhill of the same, to purpose built flowing singletrack along the Sterkstroom river, with bridges to cross over, and sometimes not, to technical rocky jeep tracks, and awesome rocky descents...
Man, I'm outta breath now :-)
This race is, to me, what epitomises what a mountainbike race should be. It has every aspect, with a definite lean to the technical, where a longer travel light all-mountain bike is not penalised like on virtually every other race I can think of, with their long miles of smooth dirt road.
The distance of 42km this year, may seem paltry, but it is surely the toughest 42km race this side of Alpine Heath (which I hear is, or rather was, no pushover ;-) ). It left me with just enough in the tank to be able to sprint the last 5km for a not too bad 2:30 finish, good enough for 32nd overall. The winning time was 1:57, which is flabbergasting.
In comparison with the long route which I did last year, the 42km has everything except the actual monster climb up Breedtsnek from the north along the 4X4 tracks and down on the dirt. Almost everything else on the long route is dirt road...
I firmly believe that in this case the half marathon is a better route than the full marathon.
Thanks to all for a wonderful day out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trans Baviaans Training Progress

From now on, this will be called the TBTP, because I don't feel like typing out Trans Baviaans Training Progress every time I want to update y'all about how I believe it is going with the Progress of Training for the Trans Baviaans MTB race.
For those of you who don't know what this is, the Trans Baviaans is a 230km single stage MTB race, starting at Willowmore and ending at Jeffrey's Bay. Go check out if you wanna find out more...
Anyway, I see I've been rather remiss lately at chronicling my adventures during TBTP, but that's simply because, well, there haven't been any...
But last Saturday I had my longest ride since the 94.7 last year (yes I know it's a road race, so it's actually more like a 60km MTB). I managed a whole 90km with the group from Singletrack Cycles in only 4:46, including the obigatory group stops. Only 835m accumulated ascent, and not a terribly exciting route, but wholly enjoyable nonetheless. (I tell you, Kim, who frequently leads the ride, is a 64 yo guy and friggin strong. I hope to that good someday...)
I can actually feel that I'm getting stronger again, and that's a huge relief, because if you read my previous post about Forest 2 Falls, you'll realize that I was a bit worried about being ready for the TB.
I may have to put my bike on a diet though. I suspect freeride rims and all-mountain tyres may be slightly detrimental to ultra-ultra-endurance cycling. Just a little bit. I could probably shave 2kg off the bike with the correct choice of wheels and tyres. And then there's the drop seat post, which only weighs around 500g, but is still around 200-300g heavier than a lightweight standard post. But I'd have to be way desperate to do that.
Of course, by then the pilot should also be slightly (10%) less corpulent :-)
That's my hope, at least...

This Saturday of course is my favourite single day race, the Magalies Monster. I do the short one which is 45km long with 835m ascent, mostly because the route has everything that the makes the long one excellent, and none of what makes the long one a Monster.
Of course the fact that today is my birthday, and Saturday is the party after the race, also helps to make decisions :-)
The route is an awesome mix of technical singletrack, jeep track and some dirt and short tar road. Included are several river crossings, with one portage, and a jaunt through mountain sanctuary park's hiking trails. The short route also suits my singlespeed riding style (flat out) well, and is more advantageous to longer travel robust bikes.

Let Playtime Commence

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Forest to Falls Part 2

Never Tempt Fate.

You'd think that after more than 5 years of mountainbiking, I'd know better than to challenge the universe with a line like

"Bring It On"

The universe heard the challenge, decided to Take Me On, and proceeded to pipslap me round the mountain several dozen times.

Oh well. Next time...

The day dawned with an absolutely spectacular sunrise. At least, I'm sure it was, because I didn't see it. Our accommodation was west facing. But I'm convinced it was fantastic.

After all the necessary admin, we all lined up to start. There were some unofficial warnings about being careful of green mud, which would be slippery, and we were off!

Knowing that I was not as fit as I should be, I decided to take it easy and not go hell for leather in the beginning. Good strategy.

But it didn't work.

I still hit the proverbial wall, as per normal.

The route is laid out in a double loop, with the 35km route splitting off from the the 75km at about 33km. I almost took the temptation to go home and have a cold coke. But, me being me, I didn't. I should've, but I didn't.

Less than 1km past the split the big climb of the day commences.  500m accumulative ascent in 8km of very slippery rutted quad trail... The pipslapping had begun in earnest.

This was followed by an awesome technical singeltrack descent (I wish there was more of that in many races). Rocky, with roots and pine needles. And in places more than 60 degrees down bubble. It's at times like that that I remember why I lug my 16kg Morewood up insane climbs.

This was followed, ranging from between 100 and 200m vertical gain in the space of 2 to 4km. Just as steep, but not as long. However, due to all the cosmic pipslapping, I was starting to cramp. Even views such as this, called the avenue of trees, only distracted me briefly. 

This is why I ride my mountainbike and suffer and cramp. To see images like this. Yes, of course also for the challenge, and not to mention the friggin awesome downhills. But mostly for the beauty of God's creation.

This was also the race where I came the closest to giving up. I was cramping almost every single muscle in my body, including my triceps and my fingers. If it wasn't for the couple who were riding with the support vehicles (you can actually see them in the 2nd pic at the start right in front of the photo with the blue sleeveless tops) I would probably have loaded my cramping butt into the aforementioned support vehicle. But they encouraged the heck outta me, and got me onto the bike for the last 8km, which only had one small climb right at the end called "Laaste Strooi". 

And then I was finished. Not last, amazingly, about 30 minutes before the last finisher. 

I'll chalk this one off as experience and a good yardstick for Trans-Baviaans in August. I have a long way to go.