Saturday, January 29, 2011

Some Barberton pics from Zoon Cronje

MTN Barberton Ultra Marathon #2

Kevin Evans, pic Gary Perkin

I don’t remember Barberton being so hard!
After my first two weeks back on the bike, I thought I would use the 2nd leg of the MTN Ultra Marathon series as training and see how the body handled its first Ultra. Turned out that I would surprise myself. It helped a lot that the two weeks of training was great quality spent in Clarens at altitude. We managed nearly 50hrs in the two weeks, so we wouldn’t have the ‘freshest’ legs for the race.
The start of the race was slightly different as with all the rain, we could not use the first section of jeep track. I wasn’t very disappointed with this, except that it meant we rode straight into the first big climb of the day, gulp. As we hit the climb, the tempo at the front was a little too much for me, and I had to watch a small group of around eight riders disappear. At least Dave, series leader, was comfortably there, and I tried to ride my own but steady tempo, limiting the time I would loose so that if Dave did have a mechanical, I would not be too far behind to assist.
I was soon in my own small group with Ben Melt, Jock Green and Nico Bell. Melt would be my “partner” for the day it seemed, and as he has one of the most steady tempo’s in the bunch, I thought if I could pace with him I might be alright.

I must again commend Advendurance on what they have done and are doing for the sport in our country. Their events are world class, and with UCI points up for grabs, they are setting the standard high. Besides that they are taking the riders wellbeing into account. For us pro’s, we had three technical and feed zones. Just to give you an idea, at a world championships, we have up to eight zones. This makes it so much easier for us to race hard. For all the mere mortals, I lost count of the number of water points they supplied! Another two small changes made, but of huge significance, the half marathon and fun ride was moved to Sunday, eliminating back markers and congestion on the course for us, and prize giving was held within half an hour of the top ten riders finishing. Brilliant to see the top riders, in their kit, on the podium whilst the crowds are still there, fantastic for every ones sponsors!
Back to my race, I cannot comment on what was happening up front, but from what I heard, Max Knox displayed his consistent Barberton performance to win his third consecutive ‘home town’ race, whilst Dave did his best to finish an awesome 2nd, maintaining his series lead. It sounded like Mannie and Brandon slogged it out for 3rd and 4th. Meanwhile, a few minutes behind all the action, Melt and I kept up our steady pace and reeled in quite a few riders on the final climb.
I felt really good in the last 15km and considering my lack of training and depth at the moment, to finish up 5th after my traumatic start to my season, felt as good as a victory for me.

It was great to have “rocket Rodge” back in our team for the assistance and mechanical expertise that is so necessary in these tough events.

Great team effort and a special ride for me in my new colours of Team 360Life which I’m absolutely loving being a part of.

Next race, South African Road Championships in Port Elizabeth next weekend, time to throw myself in the deep end again, take it like a man, and remember where our goals and focus lies. Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Max Knox (DCM)
2nd David George (360Life)
3rd Mannie Heymans (Garmin/Adidas)
4th Brandon Stewart (DCM)
5th Kevin Evans (360Life)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

MTN Ultra Marathon #1, Attakwas, Oudtshoorn

Kevin Evans, pic

Race Report as Team 360life Manager:
The following report is my account of the first big race of the season, but from my perspective and as a first time manager. Due to an appendectomy three weeks ago, I would be forced to miss one of my favorite races, and assume the role as manager/soigneur for my team mate Dave George in our newly formed Team 360life. As a new team on the block, with great sponsors, we felt we had pressure to perform and give them something early on in return. And the pressure would be all on Dave’s shoulders as I would have to sit the race out. However he has big shoulders and an even bigger match temperament, and taking on one of the best paired teams in the world, Team Bulls, couldn’t even stand up to his determination. And I was sure to pull out all the stops I could as manager and helper for him.

After helping Dave get ready for the start, Vincent and I, the soigneur from team Bulls sped off to the first of two technical feed zones. As the race was an official UCI category race, it meant we were able to feed and supply technical assistance at two points in the race. At these designated points, it was our job to ensure the riders had sufficient food, water and spares on hand should they require anything. Dave and I had strategized before hand what he would take and where. But after waiting and hour and a half for the first group to come through, it was all nerves as to who would be there and if Dave had no mechanical problems so far and was feeling good. All was looking good when he came though in a group of nine riders, including most of the favorites, amongst them both the Bulls riders and four time Cape epic winners, Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, who were in SA enjoying the good weather and training conditions.
The real race would begin between the first tech zone at 46km, and the next one at 86km, after they go through the hardest part of the race, the infamous Attakwas trail. After four years, I knew exactly what awaited them. For Vincent and I, it was a matter of a short 25min drive to the next tech zone, followed by a nail biting 2hour wait for the riders to emerge. By the time they arrived, the group was only 5riders, still both Bulls, Max Knox and Adrien Niyonshuti, plus Dave.
After a quick feed, the guys set off to tackle the final 36km, and this would be where the winners would emerge.
Mean time I had to race to the finish, trying to make sure I got there ahead of the riders to see the finish and be there with cold refreshments, much needed in the hot conditions. Whilst all the while getting updates from the lead vehicle. When I heard Dave had broken away with the Bulls guys, the butterflies were racing and I was an emotional wreck, hoping and holding thumbs Dave could pull off the first win for the new and awesome team aboard his brand new Scott Scale29er.
I managed to make the finish in time, and to see Dave cross the line ahead of Stefan and Karl, and I had goose bumps and a lump in my throat as he pointed to his 360life logo on his chest, repaying their faith in us, and setting up an incredible start to our year.

It definitely gave me a fresh perspective on what we do to see it from another view, and trust me when I say, I’d much rather be in control of the racing, and leave the stress of worrying up to the managers and family. Big respect to all of them for handling that!

Thanks again to Carel and Henco and Dryland Events for having and accommodating us as usual, your support is appreciated and congrats on another world class event.

Now its time for me to begin training and get back to what I do. Thanks 360life for your patience and all our supporting sponsors. Here’s to a fantastic season ahead.
Next race will be the MTN Barberton Ultra Marathon at the end of January. I hope to be able to start there, and use it as training. For Dave, who leads the series now, he has some business to attend too! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Dave George (Team 360life) 5hrs01min
2nd Karl Platt (Team Bulls)
3rd Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls)
4th Max Knox (DCM)
5th Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)