Monday, October 24, 2011

DCM Cape Pioneer Trek

Photo by Zoon Cronje: Kevin Evans

6Day Mountain Bike Stage Race, 659km, 13500m

Stage1, Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp, 107km, 2161m

The first stage of a tour is always the most nervous and potentially most important in the race. You also never sure what the legs will do and how the body will react. The route for the day was fairly easy to begin with, besides the rough Karoo jeep tracks with many thorns to get through.

The racing began in earnest after the first water point when we headed into the ‘Red Stone Hills’ and old Cape Epic trails of past. Dave and I turned up the pace, the temperature turned itself up, and soon the splits had formed. Up the long steep climb before the final climb, we had our gap, and put in a big effort to capitalize on our lead and make the most of what we could.

We came in around 5min ahead of Melt Swanepoel and Nico Bell, Adrien Niyonshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg finished in third place. Sauser and Knox had a series of errors, to cut a long story short, which cost them 30minutes plus, a one-hour penalty.

Stage2, Calitzdorp-Riversdale, 128km, 2756m

This stage was reminiscent of the old Epic stage from 2008, and started with the infamous Rooiberg Pass climb. The Contego King of the Mountain prizes each day really spiced up the racing and made the big climbs of the day that little extra harder as riders raced for the R2500 up for grabs. Once over the climb, the front group, consisting of the four main teams, rolled through until we hit some more rough and tough ‘Katot’ jeep track through one of the beautiful reserves. It was in this section, trying to show the boys how to ride a river crossing, that I got stuck in a really deep section, couldn’t unclip, and completely submerged myself to the point of near drowning.

Past the last water point, altogether and aiming for a gentle final 40km to this long stage, we were thrown a major curve ball where we hit the roughest 4x4track of the race. Forced to run and scramble, Sauser and Knox got a gap as Dave and I gave chase to no avail, but we did manage to distance ourselves from our rival teams of the previous day. After some sense of humor loss, we eventually rolled down the Garcia pass and finished second, but put in some really big time gaps to Melt/Bell and MTN/Quhbeka. RE:CM not too far behind having a really tough day out there, learning some real Karoo mountain bike lessons at its best. (respect!)

Stage3, Riversdale-Albertinia, 106km, 2379m

Today’s stage, the weather decided to up the game a bit for all the riders out there. Gusts of wind at 90km/hr were blowing, fortunately Westerly though, meaning tailwind, however, ‘Katot’ managed to wind the route that in some way, we had block headwinds and mean gutter sections. Just as the race was splitting up going into the mountain reserve, we had to stop to fix a flat rear wheel on Dave’s bike. Unfortunately the front guys continued to race on, leaving us with around a 60km chase to the finish. Melt/Bell were trying to catch Sauser/Knox, around a 1minute gap, we were trying to catch Melt/Bell, another 1minute gap, but for 60km, the gaps stayed the same and all of us made a meal out of this stage, with no real gains other than Sauser/Knox taking the stage in torrential rain. Not a pleasant day out on the bike, and even harder for the back markers, coming into a non-existent race village due to the weather. The school would host the riders in the classrooms, and plan B turned out to work well for the organizers and tired riders..

Stage4, Albertinia-Mossel Bay, 98km, 1579m

Riders set off in much better weather, and with the winds on our backs, we were off on a beautiful days racing through to Mossel Bay. The highlight for the day, well there was two, was one: crossing the ‘Island’ in the Gouritz river. This section had the most thorns I’ve ever seen besides the first day of the Grape Escape. This took Sauser/Knox out of the days racing, and gave Dave and I a few problems ourselves, but nothing that we weren’t able to solve on the go. We had to chase a few times to catch up to the same front teams, we were pretty much all content to roll through to the end, and let the other teams battle out a stage win. Highlight two was going through Gondwana Reserve, with its 7Kalahari wild lions. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we never saw any, but they did do a compulsory roll call through this section!

The most scenic section was the final 15km along the coast at Pinnacle Point, and I must say the Golf Course was looking in great nick! But the racing was on as RE:CM had put the hammer down with Melt/Bell in pursuit. We were following wheels, MTN/Qhubeka just off the pace, and for a change, the front two teams, or should I say, Dave spotted a tricky left/right sign board, and we actually went the right way, so before we knew it, with no intentions of winning the stage, we had. Unfortunately for the other guys, they did a small detour, but made their way to the finish although somewhat disappointed. Don’t worry; we know the feeling, well.

Stage5, Mossel Bay-George, 127km, 3046m

10km on Dias beach to start the queen stage of the tour, I seem to remember last year being low tide, and high tide this year really took its toll on the legs, not to mention what the poor riders at the back would be going through!

Again the racing split, but the pace was really turned up after the KOM where Sauser decided he would like to try win another stage. This time Dave and I followed and from here on, the racing was fairly flat-out. On numerous occasions they tried to drop us, but we were determined to take this stage and not disappoint our supporters at the finish.

After 120km of tough riding, we were still neck and neck, and we knew that a sprint finish would have to decide the outcome of a five and half hour day!

Knowing Dave’s sprinting ability, or lack thereof (joke), I told him to attack with 5km to go. As he did, Max followed and Sauser and I watched them ride ahead. Its always easier sprinting one on one, and it’s the second rider over the line that counts for the stage win, so I left myself up the ‘creek’ to sprint against the World Champion, but for the record, he beat me by half a tire! (damn)

Stage6, George- Oudtshoorn, 93km, 1594m

The last day will never be an easy day in the Pioneer, from my experience, and starting with the Montagu Pass, I’m sure the back riders were thrilled: a 12% 7km climb, before ‘Katot’ sent us into some more ruthless jeep tracks with the final 30km going through the rough Chandelier reserve. Again Sauser/Knox decided to try for another stage win, but the rest of us, RE:CM, Melt/Bell and ourselves were content to just roll trough to the end of a tough tour.

All was going well for me, not the best legs on the day, but up one of the rocky climbs, the camera man (BigShot Media) was trying to get me to ride up an almost impossible section, when I came to a stop, couldn’t unclip, fell over on the high side (yes its all on camera) and just about broke three ribs. I won’t lie, I didn’t have a fun ride for the remaining 50km, and I wasn’t getting much sympathy from my teammate either.

But the race was in the bag, and we had turned our stage race luck around to win the 2011 Cape Pioneer Trek.

Henco and Carel, plus all the crew, too many to mention, put on another amazing event, and really kept the riders interests first. Dryland is fast becoming a world-class events company, and Nedbank 360Life are proud to have been invited to their race and hope to be back to defend our title next year.

And to all the ‘die hard’ riders who make up the field, you have our utmost respect for completing this grueling event. I suppose it’s the toughness that makes you guys come back, however I’m amazed at how well prepared you all are! Best of luck with the recovery!

Provisional Results:

1st Evans/George (Nedbank 360Life) 26hrs53min

2nd Melt-Swanepoel/Bell (Specialized/Bell Cycles) 27hrs25min

3rd Nyionshuti/Jvan Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka) 27hrs51min

4th Woolcock/Macdonald (RE:CM) 27hrs57

5th Sauser/Knox (Songo36one) 29hrs23min

Next race, that’s a wrap folks, season 2011 done for Team Nedbank 360Life. In the end of a dreadful start, what a finish, and with the support and like-mindedness of our sponsors, all we can say is, ‘roll on 2012’!

Thank you and proudly Nedbank ambassadors!

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Ladismith Cheese Seweweekspoort Challenge

Ladismith Cheese Seweweeksport MTB Challenge, 80km

One of my ‘local’ events (I call any event within a hundred and fifty kilometer radius of home a local event), and also one of favorite rides in the beautiful area of the Karoo. The Seweweekspoort challenge is an absolute must do ride as it’s suitable for all levels of riders, and the route is absolutely magnificent. It basically winds its way right through the Seweweekspoort, an old dirt road that connects the small and great Karoo via the Cape folded mountains.

Although this year, Dave had decided to use this race as final hard training for next weeks Pioneer Trek, and went flying out the blocks. I managed to ride across to him, where we shared the work going up, and it is up, through the ‘Poort’, so I didn’t have a lot of time to look around at the stunning area. Once through the ‘Poort’, I was sure we would have a good gap with which we could manage for the next 60km, but to my surprise, a group of 4riders had worked equally as hard and managed to catch us through the rough jeep track loop around the dam at the top of the Poort.

Ruan Du Toit (Novo Nordisk), Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized), Stuat Marais and Dave Morison (Blend Properties) had joined us for the really fun and fast sweeping gravel descend back down the Poort, where speeds of close to 70km/hr are achievable. Once out of the Poort, the final 35km is through Winelands and farms, and becomes a bit rougher, and tougher, with the wind usually playing a small role too. And then of course the final two climbs with ten kilometers to go are usually hard enough to decide the outcome of the race. Knowing this race really well, and having won it a few times before, I was content to wait for the last ten kilometers.

However, Dave clearly had other ides, and through one of the rough sections, used his power and Spark29er to ride alone off the front of our group. Hard way to try and win the race, but perfect team tactics, as I could sit in the group whilst the rest had to try chase him (aka the block). Its difficult to chase when you know you have a another rider just waiting to pounce should it all come back together. Dave’s gap was steadily increasing, and by the final 10kilometers, he had nearly 2minutes on us.

I then made my effort count on the final two climbs, and must say I was impressed with how the young rider, Ruan du Toit from George stuck with me. Only on the last climb around 2kilometers from the finish did he finally let go and I was able to complete the ‘one-two’ for Nedbank 360life, finishing just behind Dave.

Its always great being a part of this event, and thanks to Dryland Events and local rider Pieter Blignaut for inviting us and accommodating our families for a great weekend away in the Karoo. Hope to be back next year!

Provisional Results:

1st Dave George (Nedbank 360life) 2hrs45min

2nd Kevin Evans (Nedbank 360life) +25sec

3rd Ruan Du Toit (Novo Nordisk) +30sec

4th Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized)

5th Dave Morison (Blend Properties)

Next race, starts this Monday in Oudtshoorn, six days of The Cape Pioneer Trek, 700km and 14000m of climbing, team event and our final equipment fine-tuning for next years Epic.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Monday, October 10, 2011

MTN Ultra Marathon #8, Crater Cruise

MTN Ultra Marathon #8, Crater Cruise, Parys, 107km

Having spent the better part of about 6years trying to figure this monster ‘dash for cash’ race out, its safe to say we have a formulae! We were fortunate enough being able to come into this race today with two solid cards we could throw down on the table. The one card was for overall series, which Dave had the lead of going into this final event. The other card was my knowledge of the race, tactics, and the fact that if I could win, then Dave would win the overall series, then we all win!

So with our combined strengths on race day and the preparations that we’ve made whilst being away from our family for nearly a month in ensuring we can focus 110% on the job at hand and do it professionally will prove the outcome.

The race rolled out of the town and once we crossed the river heading out on the 10km tar section to begin with, the roadies would force an early break-away, aiming for the hotspots and King of the mountain competitions. Mannie Heymans (Garmin/Adidas), Jock Green (Ghost/Do it Now) and Pieter Seyfert (Team Matlosana) were the best riders in the break with the most experience and it looked good that something may happen from this.

But back to our race, all according to plan until we hit the new section of farm roads halfway up the usual KOM hill. It bottle necked here but I remained calm then had to work my way around all the riders who were coming out the back. I managed to work my way through to Dave, in perfect position just as we hit the big technical climb for the day. I immediately went into the climb first with Dave tight on my rear wheel, as we smashed it up the climb as quickly as possible. The race was splitting into pieces and once through this 8km section, we could take stock on the wider open gravel road of the damage done, who was there who was not etc.

The racing was on and all the riders, including the early breakaway guys we had caught, were with us, and all doing their bit in contributing to setting the pace.

So we had about 8 or 10 riders, but Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) was chasing from around a minute back the whole time alone. This was playing out perfectly for us as I drove the break hard to ensure we stayed away. Adrien needed to win today for Dave not to have a chance of overall victory in the national series. All the other riders seemed focused on Dave, and through the riverside singletrack, Brandon Stewart attacked alone and caused a bit of a stir as a small group chased him for around 7km. Once he was brought back, his teammate attacked, Jacques Rossouw but I immediately followed him and all it took was for the group to look around at each other for a few seconds, and we had our gap. This would become the race deciding moment. Ears pinned back we rolled hard and fast working together to establish our lead.

I’ve raced plenty with JR and like his style, so when we went, we went hard. At the water table, he stopped to fill a bottle and I put some air into my tire, which had lost pressure through some of the many rock sections. Back on the bikes and it was ‘full gas’ with our lead increasing all the time. 12km to go, I put in an effort under the culvert and up the rough grass climb, but for some reason near the top, my wheel got stuck in a rut and down I went. I jumped back on, and at the last water point JR had to stop to inflate his front tire. By this stage I had 30seconds, and that was all I needed. I know the final 10km only too well.

Hooking along at top speeds on the Scott Spark 29er Rc (Ruby) I was stomping through the rough sections when my front wheel hit a rock and flung me over the bars in a complete mess. I thought that was the end, as I picked myself up and jumped back on, everything working, seat skew and bar-end pointing to the sky. I Looked back, still had a fair gap, gave myself a pep talk, took a look at my Ruby sign, pulled myself together and off I went, now no stopping me to the finish line where I really savored and enjoyed every moment of winning my hat-trick of Craters!

My victory would mean that Dave would be crowned the new Overall Marathon Champion for 2011, but he still attacked his group and took 3rd place, nearly catching JR for second!

Dave and I can’t thank Nedbank 360life enough for the support they have given us this year. This was but a very small way of saying thank you, and for myself personally, it was affirmation that my string of ‘ducks’ is over!

Thanks to everyone who has supported us along the way, without all of you, none of this is possible.

Lastly thank you to Advendurance, for giving us exceptional World Class events and making it possible to attract the sponsors we have into this fantastic sport of ours. You guys set the benchmark, and you set it high.

Provisional Results:

1st Kevin Evans (Nedbank Team360life) 3hrs27min

2nd Jacques Rossouw (Itec Connect-Kathea)

3rd Dave George (Nedbank Team360lfe)

4th Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect-Kathea)

5th Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized)

Next race, will see us heading down for a week into the Klein Karoo and Garden Route for the Seweweekspoort and then the team 6day stage race, The Cape Pioneer Trek. We will use this tough race to fine-tune our equipment for the following years Epic.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Monday, September 26, 2011

MTN Ultra Marathon #7, Hilton College

Pics by Zoon Cronje

MTN Ultra Marathon #7, Hilton College, 105km, 3000m

The MTN Ultra Marathon series moved to Hilton for the seventh leg, and the race would be hugely important in deciding the overall winner for the 2011 series. At the start of the race, the series could go possibly four or five ways, but after a very tough race, by my calculations, it looks set to be a two-man race for the overall title in two weeks time at the final.

This was the first time I was taking part in this event, and the Hilton/KZN courses are always incredible. Loads of fun flowing singletrack, hard climbs, and a real sting in the tail was the order of the day for this particular race. Local legend Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect) was the early instigator and set a really hard and fast tempo. The race quickly split into pieces, and there was a fairly select group of all the top contenders out in front. Unfortunately for him, he broke his seat clamp, so had to do some repairs costing him a possible great result.

The rest of us continued with various riders setting the tempo, and I guess everyone was waiting for the first ‘major’ climb of the day up to the 70km mark. This climb would be decisive in the overall outcome of the race. The climb was not actually that bad, however the speed the guys raced up it was incredible. Over the top, three riders had a small gap, Burry Stander (Specialized), Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) and Dave George (Nedbank 360life). A couple seconds back alone, Darren Lill (Bonitas), followed closely by Max Knox (Ghost/Doitnow), Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka) and myself. It was this section though, from around the 70km to the 80km feed zone that I really had a horrible encounter with ‘the man with hammer’ and I was paying large dividends for some heroic early efforts. I was soon on my own, but fortunately a handful of gels, USN spike shots and an energy bar, and I was able to pick myself up and pull myself together, although too little too late.

The race then headed down a very technical hiking trail and finished with an eight kilometer climb to the finish. At the front, Burry had opened a gap on Adrien, and was able to ride alone to another win. Adrien took second, whilst Max got the better of Dave toward the end of the climb, taking third and fourth respectively. Darren Lill came in alone in fifth place, whilst I had to settle for sixth position on the day.

All was not lost though, as Dave will become the new overall series leader with one race remaining. But its going to be a close race come the final, so expect some super exciting stuff and the closest finish in the series in the past couple of years!

Provisional Results:

1st Burry Stander (Specialized) 4hrs18

2nd Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) 4hrs20

3rd Max Knox (Ghost/Doitnow) 4hrs22

4th Dave George (Nedbank 360life) 4hrs24

5th Darren Lill (Bonitas) 4hrs24

Next race, Team Nedbank 360life will be heading up to Klerksdorp to take part in a new mountain bike race, and should be good final preparation before we head to Crater Cruise.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Sunday Tribune Hill2Hill, 105km

After a five-year break from doing the inaugural Hill2Hill race, Dave and I were back to have a crack at trying to win this super tough race. In 2006 I finished 2nd, and last year, Dave managed 2nd. Seems we would have to come back next year and have another dig though!

The race starts up at Worlds View in Pietermaritzburg, and it’s always a sprint start to try and get into the technical singletrack in the lead as it winds its way down and through the city center. The wind was blowing hard for the early 6am start, but the heat was going to play a big role later in the day.

Same as the first year I raced here, the group comes back together after the technical start, and the climbs start coming thick and fast from around 30km onwards. The temperature also started to rise rapidly, and with a strong tailwind, the body had to adapt from the colder weather we’ve had down in the Cape recently.

The main group after the climbs consisted of Marc Bass, Mannie Heymans, Phil Buys (all Garmin/Adidas), Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect), Burry Stander (Specialized) and Dave George and myself (Team Nedbank 360life).

I guess with around 30km left to race, we had a steep climb before a long piece of rocky singletrack. Just before the climb I had a slow puncture on the front wheel, which I stopped to inflate. I then rode hard to get back to the leaders, which was now down to only Brandon, Burry and Dave. I just got onto the lead trio when Burry put the hammer down through this technical section. I have to say though that our new Spark 29ers were really impressive, not only through this section, but for the whole day, however we simply couldn’t match the speed of our top cross country rider, and soon it was three of us chasing Burry.

I had to stop again to pump my wheel, and that managed to get me to the final tech zone where I was able to change it. I had to ride my own tempo from there on, and in the last 10km Mannie and Phillip caught me. Mannie was having a really good ride, as he pulled us the last 5km into a strong headwind, and on a day where I didn’t have the best legs, I had to settle for 5th as Mannie outsprinted me to take 4th.

Meanwhile at the front, Burry had stayed away to win his 4th Hill2Hill challenge, Dave taking 2nd and Brandon 3rd.

It was a super tough day, and I quickly remembered how hard this event was. The organizers do a fantastic job of piecing together some great trails on land that must be very hard to get access into. And being a point to point race, it definitely requires more effort and there is no lack of that from their side. I’m sure Team Nedbank 360life will be on the start line next year again! Thanks to all involved.

Provisional Results:

1st Burry Stander (Specialized)

2nd Davie George (Team Nedbank 360life)

3rd Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect)

4th Mannie Heymans (Garmin/Adidas)

5th Kevin Evans (Team Nedbank 360Life)

Next race, the MTN Ultra Marathon 50Miler in Hilton. It will be an important race in the hunt for the series. Dave and I will be staying the next week up there in preparation for the race.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo by Yolande Pretorius: Kevin Evans

MTN Ultra Marathon, Gravel Travel, Diemersfontein, 105km, 2800m

The sixth leg of the National MTN Marathon series was held at the beautiful wine estate in Wellington, Diemersfontein. I only realized as we were driving into the venue that this was where the Epic started last year, and as Dave rightly pointed out, that particular day worked out well for me, and was hoping for some of the same luck today.

Conditions were perfect on the morning, fresh, but clear skies, and a full field of the countries top riders were there to tackle the course that lay ahead. In fact, I’d have to say that the course set out, was no short of ‘world standard’ and possibly one of the best courses we’ve raced the whole season. So congrats to all involved in setting out this well marked, fantastic route that tested riders on every level in all aspects of true mountain biking.

The race was somewhat different though in the way that the first 70km played out. It says a lot about the standard of racing in the country at the moment, as after 70km, we were still ten riders in the lead group! Up until this stage, the group had only briefly split on a few occasions, most notably on the climb early on up to the ‘king of the mountain’, and then through one or two of the awesome singletrack sections that came thick and fast.

It was only once we had gone through the final feed zone at around 70km, did the first big split come, started off by Neil Macdonald (RE:CM) and Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect). They got a gap heading through the feed and onto the biggest climb of the day. There was a small group of around 6 riders chasing, including other favourites, Adrien Niyonshuti, Max Knox, Jacques Rossouw, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg, Dave George and myself. First to jump the gap across to the leading two riders was Rossouw. I was riding at the back, and just taking note of the body language of the remaining riders. It soon became evident that the remaining riders were not looking to fresh, and I took a chance and decided to ride across the gap to the leaders. Neil had dropped off at this stage and I went past him and closed in on the front guys. Looking back, Van Rensburg was following me, and a little further back, Dave was coming too, and alone. This was perfect for our team tactics, as the only other two riders who were a threat to him on the overall could not follow. I eased up and waited for Dave, and once he had latched on, I dragged us up to the front two guys. From there on, all the way to the top, I set the tempo, riding hard enough to ensure we increased our lead over the rest of the riders, and discouraged any further attacks.

Once over the top, with around 20km to go, the attacks started again, and I wasn’t feeling so good at this stage, but I dug deep to hang in there, and within 5km, all my eating and drinking throughout the marathon paid off, as other riders stated to fatigue in the crucial moments. It was right then that Van Rensburg attacked, and I immediately followed him, but only for a short distance, until I countered his move and was soon alone in the front, holding onto a small gap.

The remaining 14km was very long, and seemed to drag on for a long time, my only saving grace was that we were all in the same boat. Dave was happy to sit on and let Rossouw do all the work to try chase down second position, but for me it was head down and give all I had, and hope the finish came soon enough.

Eventually the finish did come, and I was able to enjoy every second of my first win the MTN Series for 2011. Dave managed 4th, behind the two Jacques, despite a bad crash in the final 3km which even saw him break his handle bar.

Thanks again to all involved, from Advendurance to our incredible sponsors at Nedbank 360life, here’s to a good end of the 2011 season!

Provisional Results:

1st Kevin Evans (Nedbank 360Life) 4hrs32

2nd Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka)

3rd Jacques Rossouw (Cadence/Full Dynamix)

4th Dave George (Nedbank 360life)

5th Brandon Stewart (Itec Connect)

Next race, Kwazuzlu-Natal, Hill2Hill, first time back since 2006. I’m really looking forward to this race as I have great memories of it when I raced it last.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Die Burger Mountain Bike Challenge

Die Burger mountain bike challenge, Stellenbosch, 75km

So after a two week break from the bike, Dave and I decided to take part in Die Burger mountain bike race, held in Stellenbosch over the weekend. With the course being set out by Meurant Botha and Dirtopia trails, you knew at least if the legs were not good, that the trails would be great! In fact, 3600 riders arrived for the event, which had numerous distances to challenge all levels of riders.

The 75km course began with the same climbs as when I rode the race in 2008, basically climbing all the way up Helshoogte before descending down the old pass, and then heading in the direction of all the wine farms and the great trails. It was up the first climb, breathing early morning cold air that the group had split. Phil Buys (Garmin/Adidas), Renay Goustra (Mr Price/GT), Jaqcues Rossouw (Full Dynamix) and myself were the four riders left out front. Near the steep section at the top of the climb, Phil attacked taking Rossouw with him, whilst I was just happy to have survived, and rode over the top with Renay.

The front two gradually increased their lead over us, and I was already ahead of myself in terms of where my physical state was. Through the singletrack sections, I decided to just ride at my own speed, as with all the climbing that was still coming, I was worried I may not make it! So for most of the ride I was alone and always had a visual time gap on Renay, who later in the race, without knowing it, had moved into second place, as Rossouw had made a mistake and gone onto complete the 60km route.

I really enjoyed the trails that Meurant had found for us, and was more than enough fun to make up for the heavy, lactic acid legs I had to pedal around with! In the final climb, weaving my way through all the fun riders, I managed to catch up to Renay, and I was feeling better as the race got longer. In the end, I just managed to get ahead of him in the last 500m and finished 2nd in the end of a tough, challenging route.

Dave snuck in a few minutes later in 5th place.

It was good to get back into the swing of things, all though our next challenge will be somewhat different to what we used too!

Provisional Results:

1st Phillip Buys (Garmin/Adidas) 3hrs21min

2nd Kevin Evans (Team Nedbank/360life)

3rd Renay Goustra (Mr Price/GT)

Next race, Tour de Tuli, in Botswana with Nedbank. I’m sure that this will be a highlight for us in the year, and is completely different to what we used too, with just bikes, bushveld, camping, good food and wine, its going to be great fun!

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tour De Plett Mountain Bike Challenge

Photo by Sean Steyn: Kevin Evans

Tour De Plett Mountain Bike Challenge, 75km, 1700m

The inaugural Tour De Plett kicked off this weekend with a mountain bike challenge, comprising of three distances and was held in the small town of Wittedrift just a few kilometers outside of Plettenberg Bay. Again I would have my hands full to try and win another “home town” event as the MTN/Qhubeka team had stayed the week after Knysna to take part in this inaugural event. Besides the stiff competition, I also had post Xterra legs to deal with, and that was definitely going to make it even harder.

With all the rain we had the week leading up to the event, the course was completely water logged and would take its toll on the riders and equipment. The course was fairly similar to the Knysna Oyster route, although starting in Wittedrift, we would head up the ‘Stofpad’ and onto Petrus se Brand but in reverse. The 75km route would have 1700m of climbing in it, and combined with the conditions, made the route one of the hardest in the area. But the Club100 had done their homework, and everything ran smoothly on the day, amble marshals, enough water points, and most importantly, some proper mountain biking which is what its all about!

The group was thinned down to only five riders after the first big wet climb up the ‘Stofpad’, three from MTN/Qhubeka, Charles Keey, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg and Adrien Nyionshuti, youngster James Reid (Mr Price/BMC) and myself. (Teammate Dave had opted to take his break and so left me to ‘hold the fort’ on my own.)

The guys were riding a fairly steady pace, and I thought that Adrien would be the instigator of making the racing really tough, but it was Jacques and Charles who started turning in the screws after around 40km. And when they started attacking, they did so with gusto. James was riding really well and managed to help me chase down one or two attacks, but the boys in yellow were clearly on a mission.

I was starting to wonder if they would ever slow down, and didn’t favor my chances riding against three of them to the finish. Just then Adrien put in a massive effort, and it took literally everything I had left in my legs to follow him and stay on his wheel. Fortunately for me we were distancing the other riders, but I still had to keep up with him. The last 15km were a bit easier and I knew I just needed to hang with him to the end to have a chance. I also knew the last couple kilometers really well as its one of my training routes. Once through the trickiest section, the descend down Buffalo Hills Reserve, it was straight forward to the end, but I had to ride on the front as I saw a MTN rider coming across not far behind.

In the end it was a sprint and again I was lucky to take it from the front, as it was who ever went around the final corner first would take the win, and I just managed to do this, narrowly edging out Adrien to win the race.

After that effort, the road race the following day would merely be for the sake of taking part in my hometown event. After that I look forward to taking a few days off the bike to build for the last half of the season.

Provisional Results:

1st Kevin Evans (360life)

2nd Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)

3rd Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka)

Next race, Tour de Tuli, in August, although I hear from our sponsors that its not a race. I will certainly train my red wine and beer threshold for that one!

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

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