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  1. The 2020 event just finished, and by the looks of things okes hard a difficult day. This will be my third attempt (bailed on the first, finished the second in 23 hours) 22 Weeks to go. Not sure when training will start, coach will decide that will be a lot cooler in May
  2. In February 2021 I got to be part of small four-person team, led by race director Chris Fisher, that did a reconnaissance of the race route for the inaugural edition of the Freedom Circuit scheduled for April. This is that story. Words: Carlo Gonzaga Good photos: Llewellyn Loyd/Reblex Photography Bad photos: Riders “Kuphi isipaza? Kuphi isipaza!?” Warm greetings aside this will be the most often asked question of locals during the inaugural Freedom Circuit bike packing race scheduled for April 2021. This begs the question, ‘why do I need to know the whereabout of a shop for a bike race?’ The last 20 years has seen South African main-stream mountain biking culture grow up on a diet of multi-day stage races. These are world class events where a riders’ every need is catered for. I’ve seen inflatable swimming pools and pizza ovens in locations so remote I could barely get my bicycle there. Riding ranged from damn hard to easy, and almost always on well-maintained routes and tracks. Stage race fatigue birthed gravel riding events and its favourite tool, the gravel bike. These events are similarly well organised: manned waterpoints; 100% ridable routes and large fields. Great camaraderie and a real test of pure lower limb horsepower. Given the relatively fast riding speeds and numerous support stations, 100mile (160km) and 150mile (240km) events are within reach of average riders. The Freedom Circuit is none of these events. The Call I got the call from Chris Fisher in January asking me if I wanted to do a reconnaissance ride of the race route in February. My reply was simple – “count me in… for whatever”. I assumed this recce would be done at a leisurely pace and was a little surprised when I got a text message with the ride plan. Chris wanted to mimic the average riders experience and complete the longer 700km route in 100hours, 20 hours quicker than the five-day cut-off. He also wanted us to ride our bikes in race trim, with all our gear on board – clothing, power, bivvie, and food. When February rolled around the recce team had grown to include accomplished adventure racer Julia Fisher and veteran ultra-endurance cyclist, Mike Woolnough. My leisurely-pace ride had morphed into “I’ll be hanging-on-by-my-toe-nails-to-keep-up ride”. The objective was to lay down a perfect bicycle GPS route for use in the actual event in April; to explore some alternate routes; and to establish potential re-supply points for competitors in the actual race. If this picture doesn’t stir your soul, then you’re probably being shown this photo at your funeral. The Format At its core the Freedom Circuit is a self-supported event. There are two courses: a long course of 430miles (700km) and a shorter, 250mile (400km) course. Both have the same cut-off of five days (120hours). Riders will get a GPS route and have to stay on the route. So far so good. At this point the format diverges from the norm: while there are checkpoints where riders sign in, these points are not support stations as you may have come to know them. They will offer basic meals and rustic lodgings, but riders will need to pay for these just as if they were using commercial hotels or restaurants. Riders have to carry everything on them from the start. Clothing, water, food, and power. There is a list of mandatory gear designed mainly around safety and catering for the range of weather you’re sure to encounter. ‘GPS route’ you say? Don’t be fooled into thinking that you cannot get lost. I’ve seen many people utilise the wrong settings on their GPS and get woefully lost. I’ve also had a GPS fail on me 600km into a 1000km race. Bring a spare. The route traverses properly rural South Africa and you will only pass through two small towns – Underberg and Matatiele. You can choose to camp or use commercially available lodgings. The golden rule is that you may only use support that is available to all other riders. i.e., no outside or personalised support. Riders will be allowed to ride in pairs or small groups. Save for this localised concession the race is classified as self-supported. For the rest you’ll be left to fend for yourself using community taps to refill water; spaza shops to find coke and snacks; and the checkpoints for a more filling meal. “Kuphi isipaza?” You will thank me. Heart and soul For the purist bike-packer accustomed to Tour Divide-type rules, the localised differences may sound like anathema. I disagree - bike packing and self-supported style riding is about the spirit of adventure. It is about self-discovery. It is about putting oneself ‘out there’, opening yourself up to an experience that is potentially life changing. It is about reducing, for a few days, your life to the basic nomadic needs of eating, sleeping, and moving forward. There is an inner kid in you yearning to get muddy again. There is an inner 30-something wondering how to get out the office again. There is a wiser 45-year-old wanting to connect with herself again. That is what these types of events are about. The rules merely facilitate these journeys. On a 100 hour plan we got into CP2 at around 10:30 at night having ridden in the rain for four hours. A sense of humour is part of the mandatory equipment list. The terrain There’s an old phrase I enjoy repeating: “just as the spreadsheet is not the business, the map is not the terrain.” This rings true for the Freedom Circuit. It cannot be ridden on google earth. Trust me on this. You absolutely will push your bike. Sometimes for an hour at a time. When you see 14% on your GPS it’s likely the gradient and not your battery power. If you’re new to a GPS this is generally bad news. You will cross so may rivers you will need to start counting on your toes. Your belly button may even get wet. Mine did. When you finish the long course, you will have climbed the equivalent of Kilimanjaro two-and-a half- times (13’000m or 43000ft). Just under twice for the short course. Race director, Chris Fisher walking the talk. He wanted to ensure that he experienced the route as riders would and he rode every single (and then some) mile. The route covers iconic sections of the region. Names that when uttered at a local bar are sure to get you a free drink and a front seat on which to tell your stories. When your children hear these stories they will be reminded how you were their first hero. And still are. Traversing “The Vuvu Valley” you will track the Tina river on the valley floor for some 9km. Like the road of bones in eastern Russia the tracks on this valley floor are filled with a small piece of every rider that has ever come through here. I can barely type the words without getting a lump in my throat. Food at Mrs Kibi’s house. The most delicious potatoes I’ve had in some time. Once you’ve refuelled at Mrs Kibi’s house, you will wet your feet in the “Tinana” river. Thirty minutes later you will have carried your bike through what appears to be the eye of a rock needle. You will need to take photos as no-one will believe you. At “Black Fountain” you will follow the scars of cattle tracks that descend for 13km before you, once again, hoist your bike on your shoulders to scale the nasty ascent of “Koebung”. At this point you will curse the race director. If you don’t, you should. You will pass “Mariazell Mission” and negotiate the spectacular uphill single track of “Stations of the Cross” that draws you up as if on a ski lift. Julia Fisher crossing the Tinana. In case you’re wondering, Julia is not especially short. It’s the water that is deep. Yes, they are related. The blue skies, green hills and red wattle drag strips of the “Mpharane Ridge” will fill the reservoir of your soul. You will silently apologise for having said such nasty things about the race director earlier. You will follow ancient paths that join the “Three Villages of Queen Mercy”. Route directions pre-GPS included gems like “turn left at the outdoor bathtub after the blue house”. Tubs break and houses get painted. You’ll tip you helmet to Mr Rattray as you traverse Pleasantview Farm on the access road to the magnificent section through “Politique Kraal.” Here, your odometer will click through 600km and your altimeter will reflect over 10’000 metres ascent. If you pass here in the dead of night you should take a moment, turn off your light, gaze upwards, and reflect in wonderment on your journey. Not just this one. You will meet Mr Dalu Ncgobo who “sleeps with one eye open” at “Ntsikeni Lodge” waiting for riders to arrive. You simply being there keeps him and the lodge alive for yet another season. You will have stories. Stories that can only be earned, never bought. Some advice Having done this route in 100 hours I can tell you: It. Is. Hard. You will be broken at some point. You will wonder “why?”. If you want to avoid riding at night and get a good night’s sleep, do the 250-mile (400km) course. Doing the 430-mile route (700km) will force you into forgoing sleep, riding at night and having to, in Mike’s words, get a “wiggle on”. Community water taps will be your friend. This one is at the top of Black Fountain. Please don’t use a gravel bike. Even if you’re a masochist. Lower your expectations when it comes to amenities. Don’t be a ‘tjop’ (colloquial for idiot) just because you’re paying for something. After all, this is rural South Africa where every person you see likely lives off less than $1 a day. You won’t even have electricity at some of the re-supply points. One of them is a fully functioning school. Others are the actual houses of rural South African folk. Be nice and people will return the smile and be helpful. The trail and its people that eke out a living are sensitised to riders and ensure our safety. Don’t ruin that for future adventurers. A typical spaza shop. This one had frozen ice lollies which we jammed into camelbaks to cool the water! You’ll find cokes, crisps and perhaps some peanuts & bread. They don’t typically adhere to nutritional guidelines. Be focussed, but don’t miss the important stuff on the side of the track. Carry spares. There is definitely nothing resembling a bike shop on this route. Be self- sufficient. Spaza shops may not be open. Cokes may be warm. Taps may be dry. Rain may ruin a previously ridable road. You may not have cell signal. TIA (this is Africa). Early morning departures will be required whether you are doing the short or long course. Why Larry, why? When I recount stories like this I am, at some point, inevitably met with silence, followed by a hushed “but why do that?”. The question is fair, the answer complicated and highly personalised. I imagine my life as a canvas and each experience a dot on it. Some dots are larger, representing a greater influence on my life. Having children. Finding a soul mate. When I was younger these dots appeared disconnected. As I’ve got older, I understand that the dots are in fact joined. It is my job to ensure I place new dots on my life’s canvas. I want dots that are both large and spaced further apart from the existing dots. This broadens the canvas of my life and ensures I influence my future with positive, large dots. I ‘hit the wall’, on the base of the climb through Pleasantview farm. I could pedal no more. I had to stop, take a few minutes, and renegotiate a new deal with myself. I needed to remind myself about the ‘why’. Having completed a few of these events in the last two years I am reminded that my happiness no longer comes from things, but from doing things. I am reminded how much more, less, is. I am reminded that my happiness doesn’t exist somewhere in the future but comes from my past. Last, I am reminded that I am solely the author of my happiness. This, is freedom. [PS: Mike and I paid our own way. We have entered the 700km race in April. If we said anything nice about Chris or his race its not because he paid us. Onward!] There are only two formal grocery stores on route - Matat and Underberg. The latter is 34km into the race so not too usefull. Matat has a Steers. I ordered a few hamburgers there on Tuesday at 9am. I ate the last of those hamburgers on Wednesday at 4pm. Mike Woolnough posting his ascerbic updates on one of the whatsapp groups during our ride. A great travelling companion that rarely gets his feathers ruffled. Mrs Kibi's house is at Tinana. This is one of the CP's in the race. Mike Julia and Chris keeping the wall up. Food in these parts of the world is always seems to be just what your body wanted. There are no service points or "technical zones" on this route. You had better make sure you have lube for 700km and that you carry enough spares. We didn't have one puncture between us but had a couple of shoe issues. Bring cable ties and duct tape. Some of the rocky descents will shake your teeth loose. Change your brake pads before hand. You will use your stoppers regulalry. Have a camera handy. Stop and take photos. You will want to show folks sitting in their armchairs what you've accomplished. Make sure you smile. If you're not feeling it, fake it. Grumpy is on the 'leave-at-home' list.
  3. Lets hear from guys that have some advice and willing to share with first timers: *Training is going to plan. *Nutrition is coming together. What to expect after 15 hours of riding is what eludes me?
  4. It was once again Ramses Bekkenk who put in a near-superhuman effort to win the race in 13:48:53. Not only did he defend his title for the third consecutive time but broke the previous course record. Bekkenk described the 2019 edition as by far the most challenging he has experienced yet. His hope of winning the event initially looked dismal as he stood stranded at the start line with a broken rear axle. 36ONE MTB Challenge 2019 winner Ramses Bekkenk. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za “I had barely pulled away when I realised something was wrong with my bike. It’s been a long time since I pushed this hard or felt this tired!” said Bekkenk. In a true display of grit, the rider not only managed to repair his bicycle but chase down his competitors to reclaim the lead. Dusty Day, who finished the event in second (14:22:30), commented on the experience of trying to stick with Bekkenk: “Ramses in an amazing endurance rider – he can ride really hard for a really long time. Towards the end I honestly just couldn’t hang on anymore. He’s probably the best in the world when it comes to a distance like this, and it was a privilege to have raced with him,” he said. The event was by no means reserved for the racing snakes and elite cyclists. The majority of participants shared the common goal of finishing the event – each motivated by a unique reason ‘why’. Stephen Drew captured riding through the night at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za For Stephen Drew, crossing the finish line brought a fresh revelation to the South African world of amputees. At 60-years old, Drew became the first above-the-knee amputee to ever finish a mountain bike race of this distance. “I knew that 360NE was an impossible task on paper, so we set off and only focused on one hill at a time. We were not afraid of failure, and after 28 hours we found ourselves climbing our last hill into Oudtshoorn! Only if you push yourself WAY past your comfort zone do you actually find what your capabilities are. From now on, the day to day tasks which I once found challenging have now become insignificant and 'normal',” said Drew. For riders like Graham Prinsloo, the event was simply a celebration of being alive. Prinsloo has fought a battle against cancer since 2008 and admits that even the possibility of entering an event like this seemed highly unlikely at times. With a medal in his hand that symbolized far more than just conquering the race, Prinsloo commented, “Under what was the most beautiful full moon I have ever seen – I was in cycling heaven. The experience has left me speechless and thankful I’m alive to have witnessed what nature provides.” As the Dryland Event Management team already start to prepare for the 2020 edition, event director Henco Rademeyer commented, “I believe it takes a superhuman effort to pull off an event on this scale, and I commend our crew’s relentless dedication and hard work.” An aerial view of the 36ONE MTB Challenge 2019 at night. Photo: www.zcmc.co.za
  5. Ramses Bekkenk fought exhaustion, a slight stomach complaint and his fellow riders to regain the 36ONE MTB Challenge title in Oudtshoorn on the morning of the 21st of April. Photo by Sage Lee Voges/www.zcmc.co.za In the other categories, the relay race was won by Yolande de Villiers and Jacques van Staden, while the team race was once again claimed by Craig Edwards and Dane Walsh. The Half distance, 180 kilometre race, was won by Raymond Odendaal and Isabella du Preez respectively; with last year’s second place finisher in the fulll 36ONE, Bennie Viljoen taking the inaugural gravel bike title in the half distance race. Bekkenk realised on Rooiberg Pass that the record was beyond his grasp. “It was very hard”, the Dutch double 36ONE champion explained. “At the start my stomach was not good and I struggled to digest food. But by the half-way point I was feeling good, only for it to come back after the last check point.” Kevin Benkenstein (front and centre) was the first South African across the line as he was rewarded for a long and particularly arduous day on the bike at the 2018 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo by Oakpics.com. “Three of us, Dusty (Day), Kevin (Benkenstein) and myself, made an early break. Then at water point 4 (128 kilometres into the race) Dusty had a mechanical. Kevin and I decided to go together to the foot of the Rooiberg Pass but at the big river crossing before the climb started I realised I needed to increase the pace. Kevin said he was finished and so I rode the rest of the way on my own”, Bekkenk retold how the race unfolded. 3. Ramses Bekkenk (far right) managed to complete the course in a time of 14 hours, 5 minutes and 19 seconds despite only riding in a large group for the first 30 kilometres of the course. Photo by Oakpics.com. “On the Rooiberg Pass climb, I struggled for rhythm. So when I got really tired after check point three (at Catlitzdorp) I knew there was no chance of breaking the record so I took a quick one minute nap to help me maintain my concentration to the finish”, the two-time champion concluded. In the women’s race, Dreyer attributed her fast finish to a more gradual start. “I definitely left more in the tank than last year”, she said upon crossing the finish line in 16 hours, 5 minutes and 34 seconds. “I’m inspired by everyone brave enough to take on this race,” a visibly emotional Dreyer said before elaborating; “I was not thinking about the record, I was not looking at the time, I just rode as fast as I could.” By saving energy for later in the race Jeannie Dreyer was able to finish strong and shatter her own 36ONE course record on her way to the 2018 title. Photo by Oakpics.com. Dreyer and Bekkenk were joined on the full solo 36ONE podiums by Kevin Benkenstein and Willem Pretorius; and Janine Stewart and Christiane Brenzel respectively. Benkenstein had endured a tough conclusion to the race to sneak home in just under his personal goal of 14 and a half hours. While Pretorius rode a stellar final 80 kilometres to move up from the lower reaches of the top ten to the final podium position. In the solo women’s race Stewart battled the rising heat to finish second, and Brenzel completed the podium. ‏ Slower finishers meanwhile are expected to continue crossing the line well into Saturday night, with the final finishers likely to take well over double the time of Bekkenk to complete the 361 kilometre route. Results: 2018 36ONE MTB ChallengeFull | Solo Men: Ramses Bekkenk (14:05:19) Kevin Benkenstein (14:29:39) Willem Pretorius (15:36:58) Full | Solo Women: Jeannie Dreyer (16:05:34) Janine Stewart (18:26:39) Christiane Brenzel (18:41:55) The Half | Solo Men: Raymond Odendaal (7:51:48) Mias Schreuder (7:56:17) Derick Van Staden (8:20:04) The Half | Solo Women: Isabella du Preez (9:23:36) Kathryn Robinson (9:41:36) Smiley de Kock (10:21:22) For the full results from the 2018 36ONE MTB Challenge please click here.
  6. 36ONE Asset Management’s Steven Liptz alongside the 2017 men’s podium finishers; Bennie Viljoen, Ramses Bekkenk and Dusty Day – all of whom are entered for the 2018 race. Photo by Oakpics.com The route, which starts and finishes in Oudtshoorn, takes in 5 285 meters of elevation gain including the famed Rooiberg Pass. The full 36ONE distance riders start at 18:00 on Friday evening and ride through the night with the winning man expected to cross the finish line at around 08:00 on Saturday morning. The fastest women are expected home at 10:30, while the average finisher is set to take closer to 24 hours to complete the course – meaning they will have to brave temperatures near freezing overnight before conquering the heat of the Klein Karoo throughout the following day. The Half, a 180 kilometre half 36ONE, race features for the first time a gravel bike category and includes 2 730 meters of climbing in its route. The Half starts at Volmoed and completes a half circle across the Klein Karoo before finishing in Oudtshoorn. Along with the 781 full distance riders, there are a further 177 riders set to take on the Half when it starts on Saturday, the 21st of April, at 06:00 in the morning. The queen of ultra-endurance cycling in South Africa Jeannie Dreyer will once again be attempting to break her 2015 course record. Photo by Oakpics.com In the solo men’s race, the 2017 champion and course record holder, Ramses Bekkenk, will be up against the three-time winner and former record holder Jean Biermans. When Bekkenk set the new record of 13 hours, 59 minutes and 55 seconds, Biermans was disappointed to see his record tumble. Having suffered three punctures and lost over half an hour waiting for assistance on the side of the road, having punctured his spare tube, Biermans decided to retract his earlier decision to retire from racing the 36ONE for another tilt at the title, and record, in 2018. Bekkenk, who arrived in the Klein Karoo on Sunday the 15th of April already, is spending the week before the race acclimatising to the local weather and road conditions. “My preparation for the race has been good and I was possible to make long rides despite the weather [in the Netherlands]” he reflected before arriving in South Africa. “I did some training by night as well to get used to riding in the dark and I tested my shape and bike during the ‘Hel van Groesbeek’. I am content with my shape. In 2017 I rode the main part of the race alone so with good company till the end a new record must be possible this year. Of course, I hope in that case I am the one with the best legs in the final”, he concluded. Former record holder and three-time champion Jean Biermans will be keen to regain the title he lost to his Dutch compatriot Ramses Bekkenk in 2017. Photo by Jazz Kuschke The women’s course record holder meanwhile is likely to face her sternest competition from Mother Nature. Dreyer has cemented her place as the queen of ultra-endurance mountain biking in South Africa and will be out to beat her 2015 36ONE course record of 16 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds. In 2017, she fell 27 minutes short of that feat, but with the drafting of men legal in the 36ONE, if Dreyer can complete at least the first half of the course in a strong group, a record-breaking time is possible. Especially as the temperatures are predicted to be mild, with little to no wind on Friday night and Saturday morning, which should make for perfect racing conditions. The 36ONE also boasts two-person team, two to four person relay and of course the half distance categories; within the event. These competitions tend to be virtually impossible to predict, though the men’s team race will once again see the four-time champions Dane Walsh and Craig Edwards take up the mantel of defending their title. Riding as “The Tortured Souls” in 2018, the pair is nearly as famous for their misadventures, like forgetting lights and suffering multiple punctures, and promises to never take part again upon crossing the finish line as they are for Walsh’s superb post-race articles on his Velotales blog. The gravel roads of the Klein Karoo provide a stern test over the 361 kilometre distance. Photo by Oakpics.com The 36ONE racing action starts at 18:00 on Friday evening with live coverage available on the event’s Twitter (@The36ONE) and Facebook (The 36ONE MTB Challenge) pages, as well as the @drylandza Instagram account. For more details on the race please visit www.the36one.co.za.
  7. What Cycle Lights Do I Need For The 36One MTB Challenge? What Lights do I need for the 36One MTB Challenge is a question we often get asked. The 36One MTB Challenge, is a unique ride in the sense that you start at 18:00 at night, and have to ride 361 km thereafter. Every rider will need lights for at least one full evening. Those that are a bit slower, or have encountered technical or physical difficulties en route, will require lights for a second night. For the 36One MTB Challenge, you should have three lights, each serving a different purpose: your primary handlebar light,a red tail light, anda front backup light. Primary Handlebar LightThe Extreme Lights Endurance Cycle Light was designed specifically for ultra long distance races at nighttime, such as the 36One MTB Challenge. It has three unique features that will benefit you: 1. Beam Pattern & Distance:The Endurance Cycle Light has a wide beam pattern with a concentration of light in the middle. The hotspot in the middle enables you to see a great distance ahead (up to 223m). The wide flood on the sides allows you to see “through” the corners. This is ideal when you are coming down a pass. Rather than having your light pointing over the cliffs on the side of the road (where your handlebar is pointing) you can already see where you need to turn to as you approach the corners. 2. Runtimes:Exceptional battery life. The standard 5200 mAh 4 Cell Cycle Light Battery pack will last you the entire first night with runtimes as follows: LOW mode (40 hours) is fine to use on flat and uphill terrains. MID mode (10 hours) is great for fast flats and normal downhills. BOOST mode (2.5 hours) should only be used if you are chasing down steep descents at great speed, and need maximum light. 3. Handlebar Mount:Our specialised XP Quick Release Cycle Light Clamp is 100% secure and does not move around on your bike. It will not move around over bumpy terrain, so you won’t end up looking at your front wheel. Once adjusted to your handlebar width, it secures to your bike within seconds. Rear Red Tail LightYou need to be visible from the rear, as there may be vehicles on the road, this will also indicate to fellow riders where you are. The Two Eyes Red Tail, powered by two AAA batteries, is super bright - even during daytime, with an amazing runtime of up to 60Hours on its dancing mode. Backup LightThe purpose of a backup light is to: Get you home safely if your primary light fails (due to crash, damage or running out of battery)Let you work on your bike when you have technical problems en route.A backup light has to have its own batteries. The Extreme Lights Basecamp Headlamp is ideal. We suggest this light specifically because it's small, super lightweight and won't add any strain to your neck during long riding hours. You can keep it in your rear pocket, and wear it on your forehead, beneath your helmet, in case of an emergency. It comes with 3 AAA batteries in the box. With run times of 120Hours, it will be more than sufficient to get you through to your next checkpoint safely. Do I Need An Extra Battery? There are a few different aspects to the 36One MTB Challenge, and depending on which race category you fall under, you can determine if you'll be needing an extra battery for your adventure. The 2 Person Relay riders will have the chance to charge batteries between legs, or will only ride partly at night. As you can either ride leg 1 & 2 (3 & 4) or leg 1 & 3 (2 & 4). The 4 Person Relay riders will only need one battery each as you won’t be on the route for more than 6-8 hours for each 80-100km section. The Half starts at 06:00 and while it is dusk still when you start, you won’t need lights for more than 45-60 minutes and as such you should have enough light to finish the race. The slowest Half riders might be finishing just under 15 hours, meaning you only need a light for ±3 hours. The Challenge, for those of you taking on the full 361 km solo or in a team, it's best you think about getting a secondary battery. Riders aiming at finishing in record times, you probably only need a backup headlamp, but we always suggest having an extra battery in one of your boxes, in case you have a breakdown along the way. Intermediate to slower riders will DEFINITELY need a secondary battery. Around half the riding group of The Challenge will go over 24Hours into the race and will ride into the second evening. We have three Battery Packs available with different capacities. Housed in an awesome Neoprene Pouch, small and compact and are all compatible with all our lights. The bigger mAh battery, the longer runtimes. Remember to be on the lookout for your 10% Extreme Lights Discount Coupon in one of the 36One MTB Challenge emails, which will be sent to all the race participants.
  8. Riding throughout the night is part of the challenge of the 36ONE. Photo by Oakpics.com The route takes in 5 250 metres of altitude gain as it circumnavigates the Klein Karoo basin and is broken up into four stages by three checkpoints. At each checkpoint riders can restock from their pre-packed checkpoint boxes or enjoy a more substantial meal than on offer at the seven standard waterpoints on the route. For 2018 there are no major changes but rather small refinements. As the race has grown over the last six years, with the 2017 event reaching close on 1 000 starters, each year organisers, Dryland Event Management, and title sponsors, 36ONE Asset Management, have worked on the finer details to improve the 36ONE rider experience. Riders can expect an improved race village, more offerings on route, including fruit juices and food by Rhodes Quality, and technical support from new lighting sponsors Extreme Lights. The harsh and dusty beauty of the Klein Karoo is showcased to perfection by the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo by Oakpics.com In addition to providing support on the route Extreme Lights will also be providing all entrants to the 36ONE MTB Challenge with discount coupons which will be redeemable on their online store. The attraction of the 36ONE lies in its potential to thrust riders into the unknown. Setting off as the sun sets into the deepening gloom of a Klein Karoo autumn night even the most experienced ultra-endurance riders will experience a butterfly or two in their stomachs as they contemplate the challenge ahead. Completing the 36ONE is no mean feat, but it is one Dryland attempt to make as achievable as possible through superb support throughout the route. The waterpoints will once again fall at regular 30 to 35 kilometre intervals and along with Biogen’s range of endurance nutrition products riders can expect the age old favourites like home baked banana bread and tender ostrich steaks. Riders are treated to three checkpoints, where they’ll receive proper meals, in addition to the seven waterpoints in the 361km long route. Photo by Oakpics.com The primary category at the 36ONE MTB Challenge is the full solo race, where each rider completes the entire course on their own. But for riders with a more social approach to such a long day in the saddle there are also team and relay entry options. Plus a half distance race for riders looking to work their way up from marathon riding to ultra-marathons one step at a time. For online entries and to find out more about the 36ONE MTB Challenge please visit www.the36one.co.za. To stay updated on all the news and for training or preparation tips like The 36ONE MTB Challenge on Facebook, and follow @The36ONE on Twitter or drylandza on Instagram. Riders and fans can join the conversation by using the hashtag, #The36ONE, on all social media platforms. Fast Facts: 36ONE MTB Challenge Event Dates: 20 – 22 April 2018 Entries Open: 1 August 2017 Full Solo: R1 990 Full Team: R3 800 (2 Riders) Full Relay: R2 550 (2 Riders) | R3 150 (4 Riders) The Half: R1 100 (Solo) | R2 050 (Team of 2 Riders) Website: www.the36one.co.za
  9. Ramses Bekkenk crossed the finish line in a new record time of 13 hours, 59 minutes and 55 seconds to win the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo by Oakpics.com. Dutch mountain biker Bekkenk, riding in the KMC-Fruit to Go colours, had to win the race the hard way riding solo for 270 kilometres; after Jean Biermans double flatted while sharing the lead with him shortly after Check Point 1. Bekkenk had punctured 15 kilometres before the first Check Point, but he managed to repair the flat and rejoin the leading group, before changing wheels at the Check Point. Bekkenk had expressed his reticence, before the race, to attack from too far out and when Biermans punctured Bekkenk initially soft peddled waiting for his compatriot but when Biermans did not catch him Bekkenk forged on alone. Biermans for his part was struggling with a short valve which he inadvertently broke forcing him to insert his second and final spare tube. When he punctured again at the 170 kilometre mark his race was well and truly over. Ramses Bekkenk had to put the hammer down in the final 40km to secure the course record. Photo by Oakpics.com. Reflecting on leading on his own for so long Bekkenk said: “It was very difficult to judge your effort. I could not see my Garmin so I did not know how fast I was going. I was worried I was maybe going too slowly or even too fast. It was mentally very challenging.” When the sun rose though and he realised he was in with a shot of breaking the course record he put the hammer down. “I saw I had an hour and ten minutes to do the last 40 kilometres and I knew it was mostly downhill so I pushed really hard.” In the women’s race Dreyer dominated throughout, racing to a comfortable victory over Johanna Josten. Speaking after crossing the finish line Dreyer said: “It was just a matter of keeping my wheels and pedals turning. I burnt all my matches following the guys yesterday, so this morning was very tough. Martin’s saying from his adventure racing days is that you do not quit until you are stretched off the course and I used that to keep me going.” Jeannie Dreyer raced to victory in a time of 16 hours, 59 minutes and 27 seconds in the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo by Oakpics.com. The relay teams started 20 minutes after the solo riders, but the Kinky Wizards team did not let that dissuade them as they blitzed the course. With no support from the other relay teams, Gerrie Beukes could not make any inroads on the big groups of solo riders ahead of them during the first 83 kilometre leg of the race. In the second leg Janpaul Gerber slowly turned the tide, reeling the leaders on the road in by 5 minutes. Taking over the baton for the toughest section of the race Neill Ungerer rode out of his skin, overhauling the lead of Bekkenk – passing the solo rider on the Rooiberg Pass – and handing Yolande de Villiers a 5 minute lead for the final leg. In the final 81 kilometres, from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, de Villiers extended that lead to cross the finish line first, clock the fastest time of the race and claim victory in the four person relay team category. In the remaining full 36ONE race categories Craig Edward and Dane Walsh won the two person team’s category, while Kevin Benkenstein and Mikayla Webb won the mixed team category. The two rider relay was won by Corné Nel and Philip La Grange. The 180.5 kilometre long Half 36ONE MTB Challenge was won by Luca Stermin, in a time of 7 hours, 52 minutes and 55 seconds, in the solo men’s race, while Isabella du Preez won the solo women’s title; with Loraine Strydom and Mark Weedall winning the team category in the shorter distance race. A field of over 500 solo riders took on the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge and this led to big groups in the early kilometres which helped set up Bekkenk’s course record. Photo by Oakpics.com. You can recap on all the action from the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge by liking the event Facebook page where you will find photo galleries from the race and a highlight video. To view all the results or to find out more about the event please visit www.the36one.co.za. Entrants to any previous edition of The 36ONE MTB Challenge will be eligible to enter the 2018 event on Monday the 24th of April when 100 early bird entries to the full solo 36ONE MTB Challenge open at 12:00. Selected Results: 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge The 36ONE MTB Challenge | Solo Men Ramses Bekkenk (13:59:55) Bennie Viljoen (15:04:06) Dusty Day (15:18:44) Andreas Studer (15:18:46) Jean Biermans (15:38:36) The 36ONE MTB Challenge | Solo Women Jeannie Dreyer (16:59:27) Johanna Josten (18:06:43) Tracy Campbell (18:54:32) To view all the results please click here.
  10. Dutch beach racing star Ramses Bekkenk will not be intimidated by the breezy conditions predicted for the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo by www.directsportfoto.nl Jean Biermans had planned for the 2016 36ONE MTB Challenge to be his final professional mountain bike race but when a chest infection forced him to withdraw from the race at the half-way mark he decided he had unfinished business and put his retirement on hold. In 2017 there has been no mention of any intension to hang up his bike, allowing Biermans to focus on the race itself. As recent months have painfully illustrated, to Christoph Sauser and Tom Boonen, the cycling gods are not romantics and will not just hand a victory to a retiring champion. Biermans is still the course record holder having stopped the clock on an impressive 14 hours, 3 minutes and 57 seconds for the 361 kilometre long route in 2015. Tom Wetton’s 2016 winning time was over an hour slower, but given the massive distances, changing terrain and lengthy time many external factors can impact the times. The weather conditions in particular play a significant part, though the men’s race winner tends to finish between 08:00 and 09:00 on Saturday morning so the heat of the day hardly impacts them. What can affect their time though is the wind. A light breeze from the South East is predicted throughout the race and while this will aid the riders on the, 140 kilometre long, Westerly section from Daskop to Rooiberg it will be a head wind for much of the final 81km, from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn. Jean Biermans is keen to repeat his 2015 36ONE MTB Challenge winning ride and could challenge the course record, conditions permitting. Photo by Jazz Kuschke One rider who will not be intimidated by a breeze is Ramses Bekkenk. As a Dutch beach racing champion Bekkenk is accustomed to racing into the wind. Bekkenk is also an ultra-marathon specialist having completed an astonishing 850 kilometres in the Dutch 24 uur van Zandvoort twenty four hour race. He is also bringing form into The 36ONE MTB Challenge having placed second in the 120 kilometre long Kellerwald Marathon in Germany on the 9th of April. Hannele Steyn (2nd from right) and Katja Steenkamp (far right) raced to third together in the 2016 Cape Pioneer Trek so the duo knows they can work well as a team. Photo by Oakpics.com In the women’s race Hannele Steyn and Katja Steenkamp are focused on breaking the women’s course record. Steyn holds the title as the fastest solo female finisher with a time of 17 hours, 41 minutes and 48 seconds in 2016; but the fastest ever woman to complete the route is Jeannie Dreyer who rode it in 16 hours, 32 minutes and 14 seconds as part of a mixed team with her husband Martin in 2015. The three leading women each boast an impressive ultra-marathon palmarès; Steyn is the Last Lioness (the final woman to have completed every Absa Cape Epic), Steenkamp is the 2016 Tour d'Afrique champion having ridden every inch of the 12 000 kilometres from Cairo to Cape Town, and Dreyer – aside from being the fastest women ever on The 36ONE – finished a very narrow second in the 2016 Munga. Rumour has it that Martin Dreyer will be doubling up by riding the 361 kilometre route twice. Photo by Jazz Kuschke While his wife Jeannie will be racing for victory, Martin Dreyer has other plans for The 36ONE MTB Challenge. 361 kilometres in one go is not quite far enough for the mad-cap adventurer, rumour has it that he will be attempting to undertake the loop twice; in so doing riding a massive 722 kilometres. Dreyer is set to start sometime on Friday morning, with a Dryland Event Management vehicle following behind him for support, and he will probably start catching slower riders on Saturday afternoon as he seeks to complete his second pass of the route. The 36ONE MTB Challenge gets underway from Kleinplaas Resort in Oudtshoorn at 18:00 on Friday the 21st of April, with a 3 kilometre long neutral zone before the racing starts. The half distance riders will start at Volmoed at 06:00 on Saturday the 22nd of April and the first rider is expected to finish just after 08:00 on Saturday morning. Riders have 36.1 hours to complete the 361 kilometre long course and prize giving will take place at 09:00 on Sunday the 23rd at Kleinplaas. You can follow the action live on Twitter, @The36ONE, or view all the photos and videos from the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge on the event Facebook page. For more information on the race visit www.the36one.co.za or click here to read advice on how to take on an ultra-marathon event and to view The 36ONE MTB Challenge split calculator.
  11. 1. Jonathan Odendaal during the 2014 Cape Pioneer Trek, where he was the top placed amateur, just weeks before his accident. Photo courtesy of Cherise Odendaal. Just two and a half years ago Odendaal was a tremendous athlete. He had completed four Absa Cape Epics and raced to victory in the amateur men’s category at the Cape Pioneer Trek in 2014. More pertinently though his children were aged three and three months when, on the 24th of October 2014 – just a week after his successful Cape Pioneer Trek – he was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident. Odendaal sustained a traumatic brain injury, his lungs collapsed and he broke his femur. Two months in the intensive care unit followed, after which he was transferred to a normal ward and then into a specialist rehabilitation facility. The doctors’ initial prognosis was not positive, they told his family that Odendaal would likely never walk again, or be able to perform the basic daily tasks which we take for granted every day but allow us our independence. Jonathan Odendaal completed four Absa Cape Epic’s alongside his brother Bertus. Bertus will once again team up with Jonathan to see him through the final leg of The 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo courtesy of Cherise Odendaal. No two traumatic brain injuries are alike though and individual recoveries can vary tremendously. Odendaal’s mother refused to accept her son would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and his family pulled together to ensure he would beat the odds. On the 16th of January 2015 he spoke his first words. A year of intensive rehab followed and a friend, Jared Tilley, built Odendaal a set of parallel bars to support himself while relearning the mechanics of walking, strengthening his legs and regaining his balance. On the 18th of December 2015 he took his first step on his own. By the 31st of January he was able to walk a few steps. The Odendaal family poses for a photo: Jonathan, holding their son, Jonathan Junior, while his wife Cherise stands behind their daughter, Denise. Photo courtesy of Cherise Odendaal. Odendaal used a walker to aid his unsteady balance, but he was determined to leave it behind. Gradually his balance improved and on the 31st of March 2016 he got back on the bike for the first time. Though unable to mount or dismount unassisted the milestones were stacking up and Odendaal’s progress towards his goal of being able to once again enter a mountain bike race were being realised. Currently his daily routine entails waking up at five every morning to cycling and then walk four kilometres, and then in the evenings he spends another thirty minutes on the treadmill. His next goal is to up the pace to a jog.The 36ONE MTB Challenge will be Jonathan Odendaal’s first major mountain bike race since his accident. He will be riding the final eighty one kilometres from Calitzdorp to Oudshoorn alongside his brother, and old stage race partner, Bertus. Though Dryland Event Management and 36ONE Asset Management are exceptionally honoured that Odendaal has chosen The 36ONE MTB Challenge as the event to mark this key step on his road to recovery, his ability to spend time with his wife, Cherise, and children is far more important. “He really is an inspiration and just comes to show that one must never give up and that one must believe in oneself. We have received amazing support from the community, friends and family. We are grateful for every day and happy to be doing all the things as a family” reflected Cherise Odendaal. Jonathan Odendaal is an inspiration to the mountain biking community at large and Dryland Event Management would like to wish him the best of luck for The 36ONE MTB Challenge. You can follow his progress during the event on Twitter @The36ONE or on Facebook at The 36ONE MTB Challenge.
  12. For many entrants to The 36ONE MTB Challenge the race is a personal trial, a battle to see if they can ride the 361 kilometres. But for Jonathan Odendaal, and his family, it carries far more significance. When he undertakes the final leg of the 2017 The 36ONE MTB Challenge for his family’s relay team he will be overcoming the odds, disproving doctors’ predictions and taking another crucial step on the path towards recovery. Click here to view the article
  13. Dutch beach racing star Ramses Bekkenk in action during a 100km plus beach race in his home country. Photo by www.directsportfoto.nl. In addition to the 530 registered solo riders for the full route there are another 136 riders registered to ride the long route with a teammate. The remaining entrants are either racing The 36ONE in relay teams of two or four, or racing the ‘short’ distance 180 kilometre option either on their own or as a team of two. The 361 kilometre route, it is clear, is no longer the daunting challenge it once was. When 36ONE Asset Management and Dryland Event Management conceived the event in 2011 – the first event took place in 2012 – they fully expect the relay options to remain the most popular entry options. Part of the growth in entry numbers is surely down to the trend towards an increase in the popularity of ultra-distance events both in South Africa and internationally in mountain biking circles. Races like the Leadville Trail 100 MTB even feature lotteries for entries. The other determining factor in the increasing popularity of The 36ONE MTB Challenge is the famous Dryland hospitality. Never has 361 kilometres in on single stage race seemed so possible. From the water points; with the tables fully laden with endurance fuels, including Biogen products, home-baked banana bread, boiled potatoes, koeksisters, date-balls, biltong and more; to the check points, where a hearty meal awaits at each. Plus, of course, the oasis-like race village of Kleinplaas Holiday Resort where lush lawns, a swimming pool and a race finishers’ Lunch/Dinner, depending on each riders finishing time, awaits from 14:00 on Saturday afternoon until 02:00 in the early hours of Sunday morning. With a strong international field it remains to be seen if locals like Tom Wetton (1st in 2016; second from left) Christo van den Heever (2nd in 2016; left) and Riccardo Stermin (3rd in 2016; right) can repeat their podium achievement in 2017, where 36ONE Asset Management’s Steven Liptz (second from right) will once again award the prizes. Photo by Oakpics.com. The event organisers decided to close the entries earlier this year though “ultimately we could take this event to 1 500 riders this year, but we will never compromise the quality we offer – we feel that we need to limit entries annually. Entries have actually been full for a while, with additional registered riders being added to a waiting list” Henco Rademeyer, of Dryland Event Management explained. The long, winding and corrugated roads of the Klein Karoo are best tackled on a mountain bike, gravel and cyclocross bikes are definitely not recommended. Photo by Oakpics.com. “This year riders will see an increase in our water point offerings, as well as a new window period whereby spectators can only get to checkpoint one during a certain time. This is to ensure that riders are safer and do not have to ride in the dust while following vehicles. It is hard to better our water points, but with Biogen on board for The 36ONE MTB Challenge in 2017 riders can expect an increase in the offerings, both at the water points and at the finish line” Rademeyer concluded. Unlike most ultra-distance marathon mountain bike races The 36ONE MTB Challenge starts at 18:00, meaning entrants race into the night on fresh legs and all spend an entire night on the route. Photo by Oakpics.com. The racing at The 36ONE MTB Challenge promises to be more tightly contested than ever before for the 2017 edition too. Course record holder Jean Biermans, is set to return after a disappointing outing in 2016 where illness forced him to withdraw. Last year’s champion, Tom Wetton will also be lining up to defend the title he won in a time of fifteen hours, eleven minutes and fifty four seconds. The dark horse for this year’s race is Dutch rider Ramses Bekkenk. Bekkenk is an experienced twenty four hour endurance campaigner and is one of the top beach racers in the Netherlands. How Bekkenk’s undoubted talent for racing on wind swept beaches of his homelands will translate to the undulating route through the Klein Karoo remains to be seen though, but his presence will surely add to the excitement of the 2017 event. The 36ONE MTB Challenge offers rider the opportunity to ride the full 361km solo, in a team of two, or as a two or four man relay team; as James Spring, Brett Stephen, Mitchell Arntzen and Carl van Maanen did in 2016. Photo by Oakpics.com. The 361 kilometre route gains 5 250 meters in elevation as it circuits the Klein Karoo basin. From Oudtshoorn the route heads north then east to De Rust for the first 81 kilometre section of the race. Section two travels south towards the Outeniqua Mountains and then turns west at Daskop, and on to the half-way mark at Volmoed. The Half riders join the fray at Volmoed for their 180 challenge, which starts with the toughest sector of the race; the 97 kilometres south of the Gamkaberg and into the long and steep climbs of the Rooiberg, before the welcome sight of Calitzdorp greets the weary riders. From Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn only 81 kilometres remain but the corrugated roads via Kruisrivier and Lategansvlei make it anything but easy, especially with 280 kilometres already in the legs. If you have not secured an entry to experience The 36ONE MTB Challenge in 2017 you can do so vicariously by liking the Facebook page or following @The36ONE on Twitter. To find out more about the race visit www.the36one.co.za.
  14. Growth in demand for The 36ONE MTB Challenge entries has exceeded all expectations to the point that Dryland Event Management have decided to close entries early for the 2017 event. Not only are there over 1 000 riders already registered to take part but over half of that number are set to undertake the full 361 kilometre race as solo competitors. Click here to view the article
  15. Hannele Steyn overcame illness to win a third women's title at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo credit: www.oakpics.com The fifth edition of the 361km non-stop race attracted its largest field yet, largely comprising endurance-crazy South Africans in 11 sub-categories. The full-distance Solo category was once again the most popular with 479 entries, including 40 women. Teams, relay teams and half-distance riders made up the remaining 696 entries in what has developed into a prestigious event on the South African sports calendar. The 36ONE MTB Challenge is South Africa’s longest full-support, single-stage mountain bike race, taking the competitors over a distance of 361km with an accumulated elevation gain of 5 250 metres. Participants have a maximum of 36.1 hours to complete the course, the first 12 hours being completed through the night. Tom Wetton claimed overall victory on his first attempt at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo credit: www.oakpics.com Wetton’s win came at his first attempt at the event. The 36-year-old Johannesburg-based international banking executive, racing in the colours of Oakhaven Capital, clocked a time of 15 hours 11 minutes 54 seconds, just over seven minutes ahead of Christo van den Heever. Ricardo Stermin rounded out the podium places in 15:27:22. Wetton’s time was over an hour outside the course record of 14:03:57, set by Dutchman Jean Biermans in 2015. Biermans was the favourite going into the 2016 event, but he withdrew at halfway after having been in a competitive lead group, which also included last year’s runner-up, Stermin, last year’s third-placed finisher, Warren Squires, Van den Heever, Wetton and Deon Kruger. “It was quite a strong group of us leading for the first half. In fact, after 75km I was feeling pretty broken,” admitted Wetton. “For a race that long the pace was seriously fast to start with. Jean (Biermans) was very active with his early attacks and responding to them started to wear me down. I actually considered stopping after 75km but then realised that all my mates wouldn’t be too impressed if I came all this way and pulled out. So I started to eat and drink and manage my energy levels and as the race rolled on I began to feel more composed,” explained Wetton. The 36ONE MTB Challenge participants get to enjoy a Karoo sunrise. Photo credit: www.oakpics.com “Approaching halfway, our lead group discussed the fact that staying compact and working together for a while would be a sensible way to eat up some distance and share the effort. But Jean told us at halfway that he’s stopping and another guy put in a silent attack. Then it was game on. I was quite happy to be riding with my training mates, Warren (Squires) and Deon (Kruger), as I felt a little less alone in the pitch dark… On a relatively testing 10km climb just before the better-known Rooiberg Pass, Wetton felt good and pushed the pace, which left only three in the lead group, Wetton, Van den Heever and Stermin. “I realised I was riding with two pedigreed bicycle racers and decided that I had to start racing smart if I had any chance of beating them. Just before Rooiberg, I asked Ricardo to come through to the front for a bit, but he admitted he was completely spent and gradually dropped behind. And then Christo chewed me up on the Rooiberg climb!” Van den Heever summitted Rooiberg six minutes ahead of Wetton, but the latter took a less cautious approach on the descent and took four minutes of that lead back again and set about riding a steady pace for the final 140km. The Rooiberg Pass was one of the more formidable sections of the route at the 36ONE MTB Challenge. Photo credit: www.oakpics.com “At the break of dawn I saw Christo’s red taillight and I began to reel him in. I decided to put in a massive attack when I caught him and it worked. He wasn’t able to respond and I was then in the lead with 40km to go. But man that was a hard last 40 kays! With 20km left I was feeling finished and realised that the win might not be on. But then I got a time split that I was about 4km ahead of Christo and that motivated me. That and the thought of an ice-cold beer at the finish,” grinned Wetton. In the women’s Solo race, Steyn was the firm favourite to claim what would be her third title. She’s the only woman to have finished all 13 editions of the Absa Cape Epic and she set the women’s record when she last won the 36ONE MTB Challenge in 2014. But while the record was out of her reach this year, the win wasn’t; and Steyn was put under pressure throughout from eventual runner-up, Rene Schoeman. “My race went to plan, but also didn’t go to plan. I was hoping to win, but was aiming for a new record time of around 16 hours 30 minutes. But I got a mild stomach bug on Thursday and that messed a bit with my nutrition strategy. For these long races, the secret to success lies in the correct nutrition,” said Steyn. “Once the race had started, I struggled to eat or drink. But after 200km I began forcing things down because I knew that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t finish. Where I normally ride stronger in the second half, I was weaker and I really had to ride with my mind, as my body was weak. My lights also died at the top of the Rooiberg Pass. I couldn’t descend as fast as I would have liked, but luckily it became daybreak as I got to the top and I was able to see a bit on the way down, which helped. The first 12 hours of racing at the 36ONE MTB Challenge are through the night. Photo credit: www.oakpics.com “I was very fortunate to have such a good support team. My Cape Epic partner, Anneke and her husband, Pete, were phenomenal. Thanks to their support and encouragement I was able to win my third 36ONE title, despite not feeling my best. As always, the organisation was superb and I can highly recommend this race to anyone looking for a different challenge,” smiled Steyn. Steyn’s winning time was 17 hours 41 minutes 48 seconds, (just over 12 minutes outside her 2014 record 17:28:57). Schoeman clocked 17:47:05, becoming only the second woman in the five-year history of the race to break 18 hours. Christiane Brenzel was third in 18:18:01. While the top finishers had completed their challenge in less than 18 hours, the bulk of the field was engaged in more lengthy battle. Very few flaunt with the 36.1-hour limit, but Claus Meinke and Robert du Preez were the last two Solo finishers in just a shade under 24 hours. Leading results The Challenge Solo Men overall 1 Tom Wetton 15 hours 11 minutes 54 seconds 2 Christo van den Heever 15:19:09 3 Riccardo Stermin 15:27:22 4 Andreas Studer 15:50:38 5 Warren Squires 15:54:46 6 Deon Kruger 16:22:38 7 Gideon Joubert 16:37:20 8 Marco Lambrechts 16:37:25 9 Martin Cilliers 16:45:26 10 Sthembiso Masango 16:45:31Women overall 1 Hannele Steyn 17:41:48 2 Rene Schoeman 17:47:05 3 Christiane Brenzel 18:18:01 4 Edgar Stafford 19:35:49 5 Desiree Strydom 19:37:16 6 Liza Mason 19:37:30 7 Ann Harrison 19:52:49 8 Janine Stewart 21:36:07 9 Adele Ambrose 22:00:59 10 Ingrid Avidon 22:14:19 The Challenge 2-Rider Team 1 Dane Walsh/Craig Edwards (HotChillee Lunatic Express) 16:53:42 2 Sipho Kupiso/Ndumiso Dontso (RMB Change a Life) 17:18:20 3 Jaco Schoeman/Jacques Rossouw (Astute) 18:29:33 The Challenge 2-Rider Mixed Team 1 Sharon Holgate/Gary Campbell (Gale Squad) 22:37:36 2 Peter Mesk/Pauline Tunstead (Peteandpauline) 23:41:30 3 Carlien Engelbrecht/Leon Engelbrecht (Nipple Nut) 23:44:39 The Half Challenge Solo Overall men 1 Billy Stelling 7:18:29 2 Mark Pienaar 8:24:44 3 Carlos van der Merwe 8:55:00 Overall women 1 Melissa Swanepoel 9:28:45 2 Kirsten Jacobs 9:32:53 3 Kelly Huber 9:35:13 The Half Challenge 2-Rider Team 1 Pieter du Plessis/Johan La Grange (Biogen Tweeling) 9:21:01 2 Lance Muller/Nadine Pansegrouw (The Mullers) 9:59:02 3 Maryke Groenewald/Marzanne Kriel (Team Altech Girls) 10:32:21 The Relay 2-Rider Men 1 Jacob Theron/Marthinus Eloff (Dream Team) 17:59:29 2 Jason vant Slot/Martin Freyer (Beauty & The Beast) 18:17:32 3 Wynand van Zyl/Paul de Klerk (Team Green Tech) 18:29:36 The Relay 2-Rider Mixed 1 Beverley Wingfield/Neill Upton (Endless Possibilities) 18:11:22 2 Ingeborg Winsauer/Arnulf Winsauer (Huffin Puffins) 22:10:37 The Relay 2-Rider Women 1 Carol Bernard/Anne De Swardt (Sum of Parts) 21:58:19 The Relay 4-Rider 1 Christo du Plessis/Bannox Lennox/Kobus Barnard/Willem Serfontein (Klein Karoo) 14:22:11 2 Corne Bence/Marchall Hendricks/Rico Bence/Niell Ungerer (Eden Cycling) 14:50:46 3 Ben Olivier/Zane Schmahl/Christo du Preez/Herman Niewoudt/Sollie van der Linde 18:05:22 For detailed results and information on entry into the 2017 edition, visit www.the36one.co.za. For a full gallery of images, check out Facebook: The 36ONE MTB Challenge.
  16. There were no course records, but there was plenty of drama as Tom Wetton and Hannele Steyn won the men and women’s individual titles respectively at the 2016 36ONE MTB Challenge, an ultra-endurance mountain bike race based at the Karoo town of Oudtshoorn, in South Africa’s Western Cape province. Click here to view the article
  17. The single-stage 361-kilometre race through the Karoo is longer than the cumulative distance of most of South Africa’s popular three-day mountain bike stage races, with a total ascent of 5250 metres, making it one of the longest, toughest single-stage races in the country. After 10 hours of night-riding a competitor heads towards the sunrise during the 2014 edition of The 36ONE MTB Challenge. A record field will tackle the 2015 edition of the 361km mountain bike race in Oudtshoorn from 17-19 April. // Photo credit: www.oakpics.co.za Adding to the challenge is that it starts on the Friday evening, which requires the competitors to pedal through the night and into the following day in an effort to beat the 36.1-hour cut-off. That most of the route is on gravel roads and jeep track removes the need for high skill levels, but calls for exceptional stamina and mental focus. Over 500 riders have entered the 2015 edition with half of those in the Solo category and the rest entered in the Half (180.5km) and Relay divisions. “Some riders are returning this year for the fourth time, but have only been able to earn one finisher medal,” said Carel Herholdt of Dryland Event Management, the co-owners and organisers of the event. “That just confirms that the 36ONE MTB Challenge is a significant feat to complete and probably why it’s now starting to grow so fast. “South Africans are drawn to difficult endurance sports events and with mountain biking having grown as big as it has, many are adding new events to their to-do lists; events that challenge them in a different way in different conditions, which is exactly what the 36ONE MTB Challenge does,” added Herholdt. Back to defend his title is Dutch endurance racing specialist, Jean Biermans, who set a new record of 14 hours, 15 minutes and 26 seconds with his dominant victory last year. But he will be up against a much stronger field this year. Former professional racer and winner of the two-man relay category last year, Charles Keey, will line up in the Solo category in an effort to claim the coveted title. Another prominent name entered in the Solo category is 2012 London Olympic rowing gold medallist, Matt Brittain. Since retiring from competitive rowing last year, Brittain has become a committed mountain bike racer, having completed the recent Absa Cape Epic with a top-50 finish and is a regular top-10 finisher in most events he enters. At total of 30 women have entered, up from 15 last year. Nineteen of them will compete in the Solo division, while the other 11 are in the Solo category for the Half-distance event. There are also team and relay sub-events for those not up to the distance of the Solo challenge. The relay permits two-rider and four-rider teams to cover the full 361km distance or a two-rider team for the 180.5km half-distance race. With detailed route markings and 10 well-stocked refreshment points that are accessible to the public, The 36ONE MTB Challenge is geared to being a race, not a survival test. “We want the competitors to be able to focus fully on pedalling and not have to worry about their nutrition. We pride ourselves in the quality and quantity of nourishment we offer at the refreshment stations. Being mountain bikers ourselves, we understand the importance of consistent energy, especially in an ultra-endurance race like this,” said Herholdt. For more information on The 36ONE MTB Challenge, visit www.the36one.co.za. For regular updates before, during and after the race, like the Facebook page: The 36ONE MTB Challenge and follow @The36ONE on twitter.
  18. The fourth annual 36ONE MTB Challenge will take place in Oudtshoorn from 17-19 April and boasts more than a 50% increase in entries over last year as more mountain bikers seek new challenges and are drawn to the country’s premier ultra-endurance race. Click here to view the article
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