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