Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Exciting times ahead...

My blog has been unusually quite, mostly due to the fact that the team and I decided its better for me to call the season quits early, in order to prepare my body for the 2014 season which awaits.
This will be a huge year for myself with the Marathon World Championships being held in PMB, the first time in 11years its being held out of Europe.
We have a really busy season next year, and so many great races to choose from, its become impossible to try and tackle them all, but I will work closely with my coach to make sure the best possible form arrives in June.
Some exciting and fresh things happening soon, and don't we love a 'Fresh approach'!
Will keep you posted.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Opening Ceremony and a few pics

The Jerusalem Jet
Walking into stadium.

"Twinny" and myself.

TT Time
Road Race start.
The boys.

Maccabiah Games Road Race

Maccabiah Games Road Race, Golan Heights, 110km, 2200m

The road race took place in the Golan Heights, up in the North of Israel, and I could not have asked for a better circuit that suited me. We would race a ten-kilometer loop, eleven times with very hard short climbs, and technical corners. Also to factor in the heat, my preferred racing conditions, I was confident of a good result.

The Time Trial had given me all the information I needed on who the good riders were, or at least so I thought. My tactics would be fairly simple, to follow Gobrovskyy and then somehow try and get rid of him before the run into the finish. He had won the 2005 under/23 World Championships with a late attack in the final 3km, so this would be no easy feat. Simon Adler, the only other SA elite rider, would go in the early move, to make sure all I had to do was stay on the wheel of the Ukraine. 

The race started with attacks immediately by Israel who had the biggest team. After one lap there was four Israelis in the break, and Gobrovskyy decided he would close the gap. I followed him as we bridged across to the leaders, and then settled down into what was going to become a race of attrition. Patience was going to be key. However I soon realized that the two Israeli riders left in the break with us, never raced the time trial, and was a little unknown. Guy Gabay put in a good attack with four laps remaining and we had to work hard to bring him back into the fold, but I countered off his move taking a chance. I was feeling good and thought Gobrovskyy would have to do all the chasing. They worked together though, and kept me at around 20seconds for two laps, until I decided to rather wait for them and save my energy. 
As expected, a big attack by the Ukraine rider on the penultimate lap saw the end of the Israeli, I had to dig deep to stay on his wheel, made easier with a huge amount of support for me through the start finish, and into the ‘bell’ lap. I had to take another chance on the last lap. 
On the first of three climbs, I set a really hard tempo, I knew it was make or break, and just near the top, I heard him shift off his big chain ring. This was the small advantage I needed, and put my head down with eight kilometers left. I extended the gap to about forty seconds, enough to just make the final climb, with cramps starting to bite the legs.

It was a very emotional finish, with my father, friends and teammates all waiting at the finish, finally a gold medal for the cycling team.
It wasn’t the only medal for the day, with Issy Zimmerman taking bronze in his own category after also having a tough day in the saddle.
It has been an amazing experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity given to me by the South African Delegation.

Now its time for a short break, and then a busy last quarter coming up, back to the dirt!
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (South Africa) 3hrs05min
2nd Dmytro Gobrovskyy (Ukraine)
3rd Guy Gabay (Israel)

Maccabiah Games Time Trial

Maccabiah Games Individual Time Trial, 26km

The 19th Maccabiah games, held every four years in Israel, and essentially known as the ‘Jewish Olympics’, kicked off with the opening ceremony on Thursday evening in Jerusalem. Some nine thousand athletes from 72 countries were present to represent their various countries and delegations, and the opening was a huge success with the president of Israel, Peres present to give a talk, as well as messages from the US President and UK Prime Minister, began sending waves of nervous energy around the stadium.
After a fair bit of traveling around the country, I arrived safely in Rosh Pina, the small town up north close to the Golan Heights. The individual Time Trial took place yesterday, and the elites would set off in the heat of the day. I had seen the course over the past two days, and the rolling 26km, with 160m of climbing would be a fast course, yet favor a powerful rider with so much flat and windy open roads.

I went through my normal warm up routine, and was fairly nervous yet excited to finally arrive on the start ramp, healthy, fit and ready to compete for the medals.

I had planned how I was going to pace myself, but being the forth rider off, I had no elite times to go by, and rode my own tempo as I had practiced. It was important not to go too hard too early but also, you couldn’t finish with any energy left in the tank. I kept my rhythm, stayed relaxed, and focused. The far side of the course had some drags up to the turn around point, and this was where I began to go as hard as I could. I knew I could recover on the descend after the turn around, and again settled into a tempo at my threshold. Once I hit my last 4km marker, I began to open up what I had left, and powered into the finish up the last climb with everything I had left.
I crossed the line with the fastest time of the day, and then it was the horrible part of waiting half an hour for the remainder of the riders to come in, anxiously checking there times.

The previous medalist, Israel’s Yoav Bear was closest to me around 52seconds behind me, but I knew the Ukrainian, and 2005 under/23 World Champion who rode for the ProTour team, Quickstep was the favorite and as expected, came flying in at an incredible average speed of 49,7km/hr. This was a super impressive ride from a pedigreed rider.
I was happy with my performance and although a gold medal was first goal, I was content with silver for our country. 
I wasn’t the only silver medal for SA, as Benjy Stock also took second place in the 40-49 age category. 
Now we look forward to Thursdays road race. Issy and I rode up to the road race course today, and it seems it will be an honest race, 11laps of a 10km circuit with 220m of short sharp climbs per lap, and a few fast and technical corners, plus the heat, will be a tough day. 
The cycling team will be hoping for a few more medals then!

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Dmytro Grobovskyy (Ukraine) 31min47
2nd Kevin Evans (South Africa) 33min12
3rd Yoav Bear (Israel) 34min02

Monday, July 8, 2013

Totalsports Xterra, Knysna

Muddy bike ride

Hop skip n jump.

Totalsports Xterra presented by Rehidrat, 3km, 23km, 7km

The Knysna Pezula leg of the Xterra series bit me a few years back, and seems to attract me every year to come back for more. It’s such a fantastic event, with great atmosphere in a special location, its hard not to come back each year, especially being ten minutes down the road from home.
This year the competition was great, with a lot of big names taking part. I had prepared slightly different this year. I had run consistently for a month leading up to the event, and I had busted out a new pair of Salomon shoes for the run. This is the only leg of the Xterra that I’m able to do, mostly because I cannot swim to well, and the Knysna leg is more like a duathlon with just a run/cycle/run.

Tactics for me on the day are fairly simple, limit my loses on the first run, make up as much time as possible on the bike leg, and then get to the finish in one piece on the second run.
Luckily for me, heavy rains the night before would turn the mountain bike course into a nightmare. The extreme mud would prove to be very technical, and this would give me another advantage on this section. I managed to make up all the places I had lost on the first run, and the last person I passed was Stuart Marais, who is such a fast runner, I would need to put as much time into him as possible.
Its always exciting when you get to the transitions, and the commentators do a great job of giving you time splits, and letting you know how slow your transitions are!
I went into the final 7km trail run with a healthy three minute lead, but against an exceptional runner like Stu, this would only get me to the last 2km, where he came flying past me.
The trail run is quite technical, and I didn’t take any chances, nor expect to stay out in front, it was more a matter of when he would catch me.

I call this part of the race, ‘buy now, pay later’, as the body continues through fitness, but in the next few days, becomes really sore and stiff from recruiting different muscles. Fortunately this year was not too bad, as the training had helped with the post race soreness.

Thanks very much to Stillwatersports for having me at the event; it’s always great to take part. Maybe next year I can have a special number to secure a spot on the ‘Pro rack’!

Next race, exciting as I fly to Israel to compete for South Africa at the Maccabiah Games, in the road and time trial. Will keep you posted.
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans


Provisional results:

1st Stuart Marais (RSA Web) 1:41:02
2nd Kevin Evans (FedGroup/ITEC) 1:42:03
3rd Kent Horner (My Training Day)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival

Knysna Oyster Festival MTB Challenge, 80km, 1800m

The Knysna Oyster festival mountain bike race is one of my top events on the calendar. Not only because it’s a ‘home town’ event, but the route, the trails through the indigenous forests and the atmosphere around the week of events is fantastic.

The weather for the week was great, and the trails would be mostly dry for a change. But it’s always fresh at the start, and we rolled out of town heading into a cold forest. Usually the race splits up early, on the first two climbs, Simola and Gouna. The field was strong this year, and we were a group of around ten riders as we completed the first section of the race up to the Uniondale road.

It was though the next 18km section of ‘Petrus se Brand’ where first, Neil Macdonald started to increase the tempo, and thereafter I took responsibility for turning up the pace. The group was too big and I wanted to make sure there was a select group after this part of the race. Soon it was only five riders, still a fair size group, but the last thirty kilometers around the back of Knysna is tough, and on one of the steep climbs, I managed to put in enough of an effort to have only the newly crowned South African Marathon champion, James Reid, left with me.

I had decided I would avoid a sprint finish at all costs, and put in a final few hard attacks to finally ride him off, where I was then free to ‘sail’ to the end. It’s always a special race to win, but always better with a quality field. Johan Rabie held on for third place, and Brandon Stewart who had helped me up the first few climbs rode well to finish strong in sixth place.

The Sunday morning saw us take on the road riders in the Road race. The race was shortened to 80km due to road works, but with no major climb at the halfway mark, it would be fairly fast and easy for the bigger teams to control.
Nolan Hoffman took the win for Team Abuntu, whilst we were happy to win the overall combined prize for the fastest mountain bike and road race of the event.
A great weekend of racing, thanks to Clive from the Knysna Hollow for hosting our team, and Zandile for the support.

Next race will probably be in Israel when I compete for the country at the Macabbiah Games, Time Trial and Road, in two weeks. I forgot to mention the Pezula Xterra on Thursday, another top event attached to the Festival, will be hard.
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans


Provisional results:

1st Kevin Evans (FedGroup-ITEC) 2hrs58
2nd James Reid (Trek/Craft)
3rd Johan Rabie (Nuwater)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Tour de Plett

pic Brad Thomas

IDM Cement Tour de Plett MTB Challenge, 75km, 1600m

The Tour de Plett hosted by MTN Club100 Plett, is now in its third year, and is slowly growing into a classic race to do in the Garden Route. The event is well positioned, just a week before the Oyster Festival Cycle Tour and the route takes in some of the same sections as Knysna, deep in the indigenous forests. All round a beautiful but very challenging course, but great for preparation the following week.
I decided to end a good training week with a hard race effort, and with most of the climbing in the first half of the race, I went hard from the start. After the first climb I was on my own, but continued to push the pace as Timo Cooper was chasing with Neil Macdonald, following. Neil was just returning from a two week break, and soon had to settle into his own rhythm as Timo started to pull away from him.

I continued on my own, and everything was feeling great, until 25km to go, on one of the rocky descends, I cut my rear tire. It was time to stop and practice my ‘plugging’ skills as I’ve had such good luck this whole year with hardly any mechanicals. The plug managed to work, and I continued to push on, although the rear wheel was not holding the air. I had to stop three times to inflate and eventually had to ride the wheel close to flat, to the finish. All the time I could see Timo catching me, and unfortunately for him, some sticks got stuck in his wheel forcing him to stop and remove them, giving me just enough time to successfully defend my Plett title for the third time. Timo rolled in for second whilst Neil had a sprint with Conrad Viljoen from Port Elizabeth, for third and forth place.

Alan, Sam, Danie, Leon, Sean and the Club100 guys and girls had put a lot of effort into making the race a success, and I look forward to the event next year.

Next race, will again be a ‘home town’ race when the full squad comes down for the Knysna Oyster Festival, two big days of a well attended cycle tour, and one of my favorite events for the year.
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans


Provisional results:

1st Kevin Evans (FedGroupITEC) 3hrs03min
2nd Timo Cooper (Bridge/Momsen)
3rd Conrad Viljoen (Challenging diabetes)
4th Neil Macdonald (FedGroupITEC)

RE:CM Knysna200

pic Brad Thomas

RC:CM Knysna 200, 3 days, 200km

The RE:CM Knysna200 has to be fast becoming one of the most underrated events on the calendar, and has doubled in size since I rode it last year for fun.
The Knysna200 is the ‘smaller brother’ of the Garden Route300 held in late February. Although from what I hear, the 200 uses the hardest parts of the 300, but condenses it into a shorter distance, making it a tough three days of riding.

The race starts in three different locations, all within 20km of each other, and finishes every day at Thesen Island in Knysna, where great food and post race beverages, namely Mitchels Beer awaits the riders.
The first day saw us riding the famous Petrus se Brand routes, starting at the Knysna Elephant Park. The stage is tough, and our race times over this route were quick. Same as last year, we had perfect conditions to start with, and soon into the race, the RE:CM duo of Waylon and Lourens made it clear that they wanted to win their ‘own’ event. Brandon and I were able to follow them, and settled for second place after a sprint finish.

Stage 2, which starts out in Millwood, and goes past the old Knysna Gold Mines, saw the weather playing the biggest factor. However with the speed of the front three teams, we were joined by Bridge/Momsen for the first 30km, meant we would finish the stage just before the worst of the weather made its way into Knysna. It would be a tough day for the ‘weekend’ warriors, and the usual stunning scenery would be hidden behind low lying dark clouds unfortunately. Luckily hot soup awaited us the finish, a welcoming sight!
Again it came down to a sprint between us and RE:CM, this time however we just managed to edge them into second place, with less than a second separating us going into the last stage. We had some pressure to perform as our manager had made the trip down to watch us, as well as Greg from Kathea who had put his golf game on hold for us!

The weather had been miserable the whole of Saturday night, and the best part of the final stage, was the start which was no further than 200m away from my front door in Harkerville. The overnight rains had taken its toll on the fantastic trails of Harkerville, and the normally quick singletracks, had to be ridden with caution.
Our biggest problem came within in the final 20km, when Brandon I ran out of brake pads. Knysna terrain is well known for its sand and grit, and I underestimated the severity of the final 57km stage. Pity as this potentially cost us the race as we had to run down the last two descends to rather take caution, settling for third on the stage, but at least maintain our second place overall. Waylon and Lourens had similar issues but had managed to get a little further than us, nonetheless, were worthy winners of their ‘own’ event! Nico and Timo would hold onto third overall.

Next race, for me will be the Plett MTB Race. Its great to be racing the next couple weeks at home before heading abroad. Neil will join me for Plett, and the full squad will be here for the Oyster Festival the following week.

Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans


Provisional results:
1st Woolcock/Luus (RE:CM) 7hrs44min
2nd Stewart/Evans (FedGroupITEC) 7hrs51min
3rd Pfitzenmaier/Cooper (Bridge/Momsen) 8hrs00min

Sunday, June 2, 2013

SA Marathon Champs, Induna, Hazyview


South African Marathon Champs, Hazyview, 110km, 2400m

The 2013 South African Marathon Championships was held at Induna Adventures, just outside Hazyview in the Lowveld. I last raced this course in 2008, and 2007 I had actually won the SA marathon title on the same route. Jaco and his team always put together a great route, with a superb mixture of trails, climbing and testing jeep tracks, to ensure a worthy winner.
It was a strong field on the start line, and the race would always be hotly contested when there’s a national title up for grabs. This would be my tenth consecutive marathon championships, and was going to have to rely on experience to count in my favor. I had decided to race my Scott Scale RC, choosing the lighter hardtail over the full suspension as I knew the course would be fast.

The marathon consisted of two loops of around 37km, with the last loop being repeated a second time to make up the tough 110km. The first loop was fast as riders were looking to try split up the group, but it remained a strong field with about 12 guys, and all the favorites.
The only meaningful move happened shortly after the start of the second loop, where Darren Lill and Nico Bell put in a move that slipped away. Whilst there was no real concern from the remaining bunch, it didn’t take much than the tough climbs to real them back. We then hit the technical single-track in the final 10km back to the start/finish area. It was a tricky section as you headed into the forested part of the course, and the light change was difficult on the eyes. I was grateful for my Oakley Racing Jackets with Transition lenses at this point! It was in this section that I had some bad luck, clipping a tree and breaking my shoe buckle. This meant I would have to race the last forty odd kilometers with a shoe that I could not tighten.

We raced through the final feed zone and onto our last lap, grabbing our last bit of USN nutrition, and the race was taking its toll on the riders as the group was being slimmed down. I put in a hard effort, followed by a counter attack by Brandon, just before the last few climbs, which narrowed the front bunch down to only five riders.
We were all together when we hit the last technical section, and as we entered it, James Reid made sure to use his cross-country skills to good use, and went in first. Unfortunately for me, a mistake, which may have cost me a shot at the title, went into this section behind Darren, who came unstuck on the first corner. I had to wait for him to get back on his bike, and then try to chase Nico and James as they had now gained around a thirty second advantage.

The trails from there to the finish were too fast and James was too quick on the final descend to the finish where he would be the ‘surprise’ winner of the national title. I say surprise but he was the smartest on the day. He was patient and bided his time as he watched all the big names race each other. Nico was a very close second place, whilst I came in third a minute later.
Considering where I’ve come from in the short space of time, I was happy with my result and it was a good showing from our team. We rode as best as we could, and had the most amazing support from our manager Bridgette, who ensured we were well looked after before and during the race.

Thanks again to everyone involved for your support, it’s great to be able to start racing at the sharp end again.

Next race, Brandon, and I are heading to my neck of the woods for the three day RE:CM Knysna200. I thoroughly enjoyed this event last year, although I’m sure this year, will be slightly faster than riding with Sandi!
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st James Reid (Privateer) 4hrs40
2nd Nico Bell (Westvaal/Columbia) 4hrs41
3rd Kevin Evans (FedGroup/Itec) 4hrs41

Monday, May 20, 2013

Nedbank Sani2c

Podium finishers :)

Nedbank Sani2c, Underberg-Scottborough, 3 days

Day1, Underberg-Mackenzie, 82km, 1200m

The Nedbank Sani2c has become one of the most iconic events on the South African calendar. So popular that the organizers had to make it into three races held over three days. Our race, known as the ‘race’, is the last to start, after the ‘trail and ‘adventure’, and after nearly three thousand riders have hit the trails before us, it makes for a fast and smooth course, but takes nothing away from the super trails.
The start was pleasant, temperature wise, as Underberg has some fresh mornings to say the least. The pace however was hot, and the competition was super close this year. After the twin oaks single-track, where the race normally splits up, there were about 9-10 teams all together. This would change the dynamics of the stage. Personally I was having a better day, as I was starting to find some long lost form returning to the legs. My partner, Gawie Combrinck from Westvaal/Columbia was battling with the flu that caught me the previous week, and was struggling through the end of the stage.
By the finish it was almost a bunch sprint of around five teams, with Team Cannondale/Blend winning the stage, with all the top teams finishing on the same time, Brandon and Neil right up there. Gawie and I managed to only loose around one minute, which keeps us in the loop for the race, should we feel better for tomorrow.
Our only podium for the day was from a fantastic ride by team manager Bridgette and her partner Jackie. Top ride to finish third.
The race is normally decided on the second stage, and I doubt it will be a bunch finish tomorrow, but who knows!

Day2, Mackenzie-Jolivet, 102km, 1950m

This would be the second time I’ve had to descend down the mighty Umkomaas in slippery wet and muddy conditions. Combined with mist and an early start, with poor visibility, I was just happy to make it through the stage in one piece.
We got to the bottom of the valley in ‘bits and pieces’ as teams were separated in the technical conditions. After a few kilometers of easy rolling along the river, the teams were all back together and the racing heated up. Team Contego had taken a few risks and made a big gap down the valley, and we would basically be chasing them for the stage. Max Knox and Nico Bell also had a small gap, but were quickly joined by Brandon and Neil. Gawie and myself were trying to follow RE:CM and although he was a bitter better today, the flu still had the better of him on the steep climbs.
At the end of the day, Max and Nico won, followed by Brandon and Neil. Gawie and myself were 5th, around ten minutes behind on the stage.
With only around 10minutes separating the first five teams, the racing will still be on tomorrow, and it won’t be an easy day, that’s for sure.

Day3, Jolivet-Scottborough, 84km, 1000m

Farmer Glen decided to mix things up a little for the final stage, with a new ‘reverse’ order of starting. The A batch would start at 11am, whilst all the rest of the riders would start at 7am. The reason for this would be to have all the riders at the finish when the top guys came in. I have to say that it was a great idea and worked really well. The slower riders that we caught towards the end were gently pulled aside by the lead bikes, and the enthusiasm and support from them whilst racing past was fantastic.

Back to the racing, the start was really fast, and there was a serious tempo being set by most of the top teams. We had decided we wanted to have a hard day of racing, one for training, and two because we had nothing really to lose.
Gawie and I took over the pace making up front, and the group of around five teams rolled quickly through the trails. Once we were through the beautiful Vernon Crooks Reserve, I knew from Joberg2c that the route had changed and the ‘railway’ track was approaching. This was where we made our move, and with Brandon and Neil riding the single-track behind us, they just rode steady which allowed Gawie and I a chance to get our initial gap. Once we had a gap, we put our heads down and powered through the last 20km of the stage.

The finish was really special, the Nedbank floating bridge along the lagoon was unique, but it was the support and the crowds at the finish that made it even more special. Personally for me it was an emotional win as I’ve battled some health issues for the past seven months. The body is good, and the form is slowly returning.
Brandon and Neil finished third on the stage behind RE:CM with Max Knox and Nico Bell finishing fourth.
Max and Nico won the overall title, with team FedGroupITEC taking a great second place and Team Contego finishing third.
Our FedGroupITEC third team of Bridgette Stewart and Jackie Moore took third place overall in the ladies race, rounding out a very successful three days of racing for the team.

Again big thanks to all the sponsors, Scott bikes performed flawlessly, USN kept us fuelled to the finish, and KIA Motors carried our super back up crew of Grant, Sue and Lucky. Thanks again for all the support, on and off the bike.

Next race, Brandon Neil will race the Nissan Trailseeker in Johannesburg, whilst I’ll be flying the flag on golf tour for a change of scenery. Then it’s final preparation for SA Marathon Championships at Induna, Hazyview in two weeks time.
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans


Provisional results:
1st Max Knox/Nico Bell (EAI/Westvaal) 9:44:50
2nd Brandon Stewart/Neil Macdonald (FedGroupITEC) 9:46:19
3rd Louise Knipe/Gert Heyns (Contego/Giant) 9:49:02
4th Lourens Luus/Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) 9:50:48
5th Kevin Evans/Gawie Combrinck (FedGroupITEC) 9:51:43