Monday, September 20, 2010

The Herald Pennypinchers Karoo to Coast

The Karoo to Coast is another home town race for me, and another one of my favorite races on the calendar for the year. The race is a real classic, starting in the Karoo town of Uniondale, finishing in the beautiful town of Knysna. I’ve watched this race grow over the years, and this year, it had a record number of entries, just over three thousand riders! What makes this even more impressive, is the fact that the event doesn’t feature a shorter distance, so all riders have to do the full 100km! And with around 1800m of climbing in the “downhill” ride, this proves to be a tough day for the average rider, and everyone finishing within the cut off time can be really proud of themselves.
The start is always fast and hectic as the race heads into the “Ou Wapad”, a narrow rough jeep track section and riders need to be in a good position here to stay in contention. I hit the trail and quickly took the lead, riding a hard but steady tempo. Over the top I looked back and had a good gap of around 30seconds to the next rider, and nearly a minute to third. I continued to ride my own tempo, comfortable but steady, and only half way down the Prince Alfred’s Pass had Mathys Beukes (Scott) managed to join me at the front. It was great to have some company and someone willing to help with the pace as we continued to put more time into the riders chasing us from behind. Not long after the King of the mountain Mathys had a slow puncture on the front wheel, and unfortunately for him was forced to stop and fix it. So with around 55km left to ride I was again on my own.
I kept the pace fairly high as my Volcan 29er was tearing up the course. I kept thinking to try push hard to get close to the route record, but with the new start and finish loops, I wasn’t sure whether it would be possible. With only the lead bikes for company, I continued to push myself and make the most of the day, giving myself a good workout for the rest of the races still coming up.
At the end I managed to solo into the finish at around 3hrs 5min, pretty close to the fastest time set for this route previously. Mathys had to ride in a few minutes down, with another puncture, and Erik Kleinhans taking a well earned third place.
It was great to manage winning this “home town” event back to back, as it has never been done before, and of course, its always great to give all the locals who support me something to cheer about!

Next race will start already on Thursday, The Clover Lowveld Tour in Graskop, Mapumalanga. This looks to be a really hard tour with good competition, and I’ll just have to see how the body handles a four day tour with loads of climbing and long stages.
Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 3hrs05
2nd Mathys Beukes (Scott)
3rd Erik Kleinhans (Mr Price/GT)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eight Bells Enduro

It has been awhile since I was able to take part in one of the local mountain bike marathon races, and I have to say, the hospitality my family and I experience at these events is overwhelming. Eight Bells is a small mountain resort guest house situated near the top of the Robinsons Pass, about 30minutes drive from Mossel Bay. The organizers had put us up in the lodge for the night, and with the venue of the race being hosted at Eight Bells, it was ideal for us.

After a great nights rest, we woke up to perfect conditions and I was really excited to take the new Volcan XC29 bike for its first race. The start was literally about 50meters away from our room, and it was great to be able to roll out of bed straight onto the start line. Although the 65km route had some rude awakenings in store for me! I new that regardless of which direction we went from the lodge, we would have some climbing to do, though I never expected to climb 1500m in the relatively short distance.
The race winds its way around the same roads as the last 25km of the Attakwas race, and then heads up towards the top of the Outeniqua mountains. Soon as we hit the steep long climbs, I used the “big” wheels to good use and accelerated away from ex-teammate Mathys Beukes (Scott) to build a substantial lead. I never let up on the pace, giving myself a good workout and some great preparation for next weekend.
The bike handled really well, especially on the fast gravel roads, and was surprisingly nimble on the rougher jeep track sections. At the highest point we had the most amazing views of the bay, including Mossel Bay and Glentana. In fact the whole area we were riding around in was pristine and an absolute pleasure to be able to ride around in and enjoy such great mountain biking. The route was well marshaled with enough water points for all levels of riders.

The finish line was a welcome sight after the surprise of a climb to the end! And the cherry on the top was the incredible little lazer etched mountain bikes each rider received replacing the ever boring medals, and a much bigger version of the same bike for the floating trophy!
As always it was great to be part of the event and we look forward to coming back again in the future!

Next race for me will be one of my favorite events on the calendar, Karoo to Coast on the 19th September. I will again use the XC29 on this course, and from there will head up to the Lowveld to race the Clover Tour with the MTN/Energade road boys, which looks to be a tough tour.
Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 2hrs30
2nd Mathys Beukes (Scott)
3rd Marcel Deacon (Deacon Properties)