Sunday, March 20, 2011
Photo Belinda Blumeris: Kevin Evans
SA Marathon Championships, Inando Dam, 80km
Valley of a Thousand Hills would be the host for the 2011 Marathon Championships and the setting couldn’t have been more dramatic. The area and terrain could certainly host a World Class marathon event. The organizers assured riders, although the distance was only 80km, it would be no less than the ‘minimum standard’ set by the UCI that the winning time would be in the region of 4hrs15-4hrs45min. However we have world class riders and the course time was quicker than anticipated!
The Elite field would be fiercely contested with all riders hoping to take home the title. The early climbing on the route thinned out the bunch significantly, and just before the second of the big climbs, I cut my tire on a piece of glass. I had to stop to inflate it, and could only hope the tire would seal. Former teammate Adrien Niyonshuti helped pace me back to the front group of five riders, and the tire was looking good and holding air. Dave was also looking fairly comfortable, despite the thirty stitches in his elbow from the crash on Friday.
The route began to wind its way around the dam, crossing the river a few times, with some fairly technical singletrack sections to get through.
The temperature in the valley was climbing fast, and the first tech/feed zone was a welcome sight. I stopped briefly to inflate my tire one last time, and had to work a bit to catch up again. No sooner had I caught up, and I misjudged a corner completely, taking a nasty tumble over the handlebars and into the bush. One I picked myself up and dusted myself off, I had to chase again to make contact with the group. This proved tricky as we were into the very technical singletrack of the race that ran along the waters edge. I could see Burry’s knowledge of the course was paying off as it was here that he started to surge in the front and use his cross country skills and power to the most effective use and start splitting the small group up. I had to ride past the guys as they started dropping off his pace, but managed to close the gap and join him and Phil Buys (Garmin) as the select three riders left. Burry continued to attack the short steep climbs, and very quickly it was just the two of left, again to fight out the race for the title.
I had a small dig in the final 5km as I knew it would be hard to beat Burry in a sprint to the line, but unfortunately with the course being so quick, a sprint finish would decide the SA Marathon Champion for 2011. His explosiveness in the sprint, combined with his speed around the final corner, meant I could only watch as he crossed the finish line just ahead of me, wrestling the jersey off me for a year.
The final five positions were then Phillip Buys, Rourke Crouser and in fifth Dave George.
It was somewhat disappointing to loose the title, albeit to an incredible rider, who medalled at the marathon world championships last year. I think most of my frustration was due to the fact that the race was around an hour too short for a true marathon. But on the plus side, it was a good effort and I’m more than happy with my condition, a week before our main goal, and considering that 12weeks ago, I was lying in the ICU wondering what would happen to my season.
All said and done, another championships ridden, and fortunately Dave and I emerged ‘relatively’ unscathed and full of confidence for the objective ahead of us.
Next race, that small team race around the Cape, known as The Cape-Epic!
Till then, cheers.
1st Burry Stander (Specialized) 3hrs25min
2nd Kevin Evans (team 360life) same time
3rd Phillip Buys (Garmin/Adidas)
4th Rouke Crouser (Cannondale/Monkey)
5th Dave George (360Life)
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
Photo by Karen Schermbruker: Kevin Evans
Stage 1, Tableview to Wellington, 80km
The Columbia Grape Escape is a new race on the calendar, and put on by the Cycle Tour organizers. Its inception attracted some of the worlds best mountain bikers and with the likes of Meurant Botha in charge of the route, it looks set to become a firm favorite in the future.
Day 1 began with a late 9am start, and literally right on the beach in Tableview, with a full view of the ocean and city, was a very beautiful starting point.
The first 8km was great, neutral and controlled, but once the flag dropped and we swung off road, it was on the gas, through soft sand, multiple sandy sections, and the one thing everyone will remember, thorns! By the time the race had split up the first climb into the Cotermanskloof section, riders were battling with punctures, or tires running out of sealant. Dave had to stop to inflate his back tire, and I had to stop and inflate both my tires, worried that I would run out of gas in my pump! This would effectively end the dash for the overall title, for a lot of top contenders, unless we encountered similar terrain on the next couple days.
After 60km, there was only Karl Platt, team mate Dave and myself left at the front of the race. We worked well together, but mostly we rode fast to get to the finish quickly before our tires went flat, and also the temperature was hitting the early forties!
The final 3km wound us through some tight singletrack, and as we exited this section, with a kilometer to the line, Dave got a stick jammed in his rear wheel, forcing him to stop and take it out. This left Karl and myself out front, with an uphill sprint for the line. It was a great finish for the spectators, and I was desperately close to my first win for the season! I had to settle for second, same time as Karl, Dave 7seconds in third, but pleasantly surprised with my form.
Results Stage 1:
1st Karl Platt (Bulls)
2nd Kevin Evans (Team360life)
3rd Dave George (Team 360life)
Stage 2, Wellington to Boschendal, 72km
The second stage began a bit earlier, and I think after the heat on day 1, all the riders were happy about this. Again the weather was perfect, and temperature rising fast, as was the course for the day! After the first 25km of rolling farm road and jeep tracks, the route headed for the mountains, and climbed up the front side of Du Toitskloof Pass. The bunch split up this climb, with five of us left by the time we reached the top. Then the incredible trails back down the mountain that Meurant found were breathtaking and made for some seriously scary fast descends! Burry Stander and Christoph Sauser were both keen to make the racing fast today, after bad luck yesterday, Burry setting a really fast tempo through the winding route around the back of Paarl.
Dave was looking great, following the wheels easily, especially on the technical descends whilst I had two sections of bad luck, having to stop and put my chain on, and getting stuck behind back markers on the short route. Nonetheless I had good legs from the Tour of SA, and was able to dig deep and bridge the gaps to get back on to the small group.
It got quite tricky through the final 3kilometers with the fun riders finishing their race, and us heading towards the end of our stage at lightning speed, not knowing how the finish line was planned. All of a sudden we were bombing into the final corner, and Burry and Karl had got the best line through it, but very nearly headed into the wrong finish straight! I though perhaps I had a little luck finally, but they were quick to correct their lines, and I had to settle for third place on the day, again all of us on the same time. Dave was fifth, having given me the gap to follow Karl, and Sauser in 4th.
Results Stage 2:
1st Karl Platt (Bulls)
2nd Burry Stander (Specialized)
3rd Kevin Evans (Team 360life)
Stage 3, Boschendal to Boschendal, 67km
Most riders I’m sure were more than happy to welcome an overcast and cooler final day of the Columbia Grape Escape. Boschendal was the venue for the final stage, and the route followed the familiar Cape Argus Mountain Bike route, except with an extra 13km added on for good measure. The Argus Mountain Bike Challenge still took place on the day, but had a separate start to the riders doing the full three day event. With every thing to race for, we knew it was going to be a short but tough stage, and we were ready to give it a bash.
Burry Stander set the early tempo, but soon had a mechanical and was forced to stop. Thereafter, on the first climb of the day, I went to the front and set a hard tempo to try and thin the group out. Near the top, Dave took over from me, and once over the top, only three of us were left. Karl Platt, Dave and myself, all separated by only 7seconds.
The next climb, Dave rode a really incredible tempo, and I was on Karl’s wheel, when he started to ‘drift’ backwards off Dave. In the whole three days, this was the first sign that I saw that he was maybe taking a little strain. I was content to watch Dave ride away, and it forced Karl to have to chase him for the next 10km. At this point, I had my own little crisis as my front brake had faded to nothing, meaning I would have try keep up with Karl on the descends with no front brake! I managed okay, but had a few close calls. Soon we were all back together plus one more, Marc Bass of Team Garmin had caught us and latched on. But the group didn’t stay together for long, as we hit the next big climb. Again Dave rode a relentless tempo, and I was watching Karl take strain. I waited for Dave to get a fair gap, and then jumped across, leaving Karl behind. Once Dave and I were together, it was simply a matter of keeping a high tempo, staying focused and making sure we worked well together to maintain our advantage.
One of our strengths as a team is how similar we are in physical attributes, and it was great to feel some form coming back, as we consolidated our lead all the way to the finish.
Dave crossed the line ahead of me, but it gave me the overall title of the Columbia Grape Escape and at last, my return to the top step of the podium. Very humble and very grateful for this win, and of course, the support from Team 360life though my difficult and testing times!
Results Stage 3:
1st Dave George (Team360life)
2nd Kevin Evans (team 360life)
3rd Karl Platt (Team Bulls)
Next race, the “fun riders world championships!” Cape Argus Cycle Tour, but looks to be a fun weekend with Nedbank!
Till then, cheers.
Provisional Overall results:
1st Kevin Evans (Team 360life)
2nd David George (Team 360life)
3rd Karl Platt (Team Bulls)
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
"In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better.
The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." —Theodore Roosevelt.