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  1. We're going to Clarens for the weekend to attend a wedding. I need to get some serious hours in the saddle in preparation for Joberg2C. Does anyone have some routes that they are willing to share (GPX. TCX etc.) - preferably the kind where a farmer does not shoot at you! Thx.
  2. Good afternoon Hubland! Is anyone doing this event? I had a chat with the organizer and she claims that the area where it's being held had some huge rains in the summers, so the roads that the route is going along is not really suited for gravel bikes anymore. Can anyone substantiate that claim? I dearly would like to do this race. It seems to be quite gravel friendly. https://www.highland100.co.za/
  3. Hi everyone, I am riding in Clarens this weekend with two beginners. Does anyone have experience on a nice single track in the area? I'm allergic to endless dirt road slogging. Thanks in advance.
  4. South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot, was crowned the queen of Clarens when she won both stages and the overall title at Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens in the Eastern Free State at the weekend. Click here to view the article
  5. Vera Adrian Leads Candice Lill and Robyn de Groot up the slick rock section during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The Ascendis Health rider outsprinted her main rivals to win the 69km Stage 1 narrowly and then pedaled to a more convincing win on the 54km Stage 2 to secure the maximum points for the event and claim the Round 3 victory. Second place went to Team dormakaba’s Candice Lill, with her Namibian teammate, Vera Adrian claiming third place. On Stage 1 a lead group of six riders formed after the first long climb comprising De Groot, Lill, Adrian, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia). Just before halfway on the main climb of the day, De Groot, Adrian, Lill and Sanders rode clear with Sanders dropping off higher up on the ascent. De Groot let the dormakaba pair set the pace to the finish and then outsprinted them to claim the victory in a time of 2:51:28. Lill was second and Adrian third. Candice Lill reaches the Porcupine Trail plateau as she makes her way onto the final stretch back into Clarens, during the second stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za On Stage 2, Sanders was the primary aggressor, setting the pace on the early singletrack and ascents. But De Groot managed to get a solid lead up the main climb near the finish and stayed clear to win in a time of 2:21:05. Lill followed her home less than a minute and a half later in 2:22:28 with Adrian rounding out the podium another 45 seconds later. “I managed to ride clear of the others up the main climb near the end. I had a little tumble, which slowed me down and I lost a bit of my rhythm, but I managed to pick it up again and stay ahead until the finish,” said De Groot after the finish of Stage 2. An Aerial view of Robyn de Groot as she leads the elite women, consisting of Candice Lill, Vera Adrian, Theresa Ralph and Samantha Sanders during Stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “The trails were really nice today compared to yesterday. A lot more challenging with more singletrack and some beautiful views. It’s been great to spend a weekend racing in Clarens,” smiled De Groot. “The two-day format makes the racing a lot more competitive and you have to plan well to ensure you are in contention for both days and the overall. It’s a lot more exciting than the previous format,” added De Groot. “Robyn went on one of the climbs near the end, which is what I was expecting. I was trying to stay within sight of her but just couldn’t get any closer before the finish,” said Lill. “Racing with Candice I have had to up my mountain bike game. I’m very happy with my result. I enjoyed these two days because they were short and fast and the scenery here is just amazing,” said Adrian. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) catching her breath in the finish chute after a fast paced 1st stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za With both stage times combined, De Groot’s winning time was 5:12:33, 1:24 ahead of runner-up Lill with Adrian rounding out the podium in 5:14:49. Sanders ended up in fourth place with Du Toit claiming fifth. Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Candice Lill and Vera Adrian elated on the finish line after their 2nd and 3rd place positions of the 1st stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 3, Clarens Marathon Women Stage 1: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:51:28 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 2:51:29 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 2:51:31 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 2:55:10 5 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:55:15 6 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 2:55:24 7 Heidi Wahl (RSA) 2:57:41 8 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 3:15:34 9 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 3:18:29 10 Maricel Bekker (RSA) 3:22:16Women Stage 2: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:21:05 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 2:22:28 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 2:23:18 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 2:25:53 5 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 2:26:46 6 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 2:27:40 7 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 2:28:35 8 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 2:30:00 9 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 2:40:08 10 Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 2:40:26 Women combined final positions: 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 5:12:33 2 Candice Lill (RSA) Team dormakaba 5:13:57 3 Vera Adrian (NAM) Team dormakaba 5:14:49 4 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 5:21:03 5 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 5:22:10 6 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Galileo Risk 5:22:55 7 Hanli Cilliers (RSA) 5:54:00 8 Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv Giant 5:55:42 9 Haley Smith (RSA) Bell Equipment 5:58:55 10 Jessica Alcock (RSA) 6:05:47 Half-marathon Females combined – final positions 1 Nicola van der Walt 3:18:16 2 Tanya Kotze 3:18:29 3 Monique du Toit 3:23:39 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  6. Matthys Beukes emerged victorious at Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens in the Eastern Free State at the weekend, winning the men’s marathon stage race title in emphatic fashion. Click here to view the article
  7. HB Kruger (Team BCX) makes his way up a section of slick rock during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Second overall was HB Kruger of Team BCX with Beukes’s Pyga Eurosteel teammate, Philip Buys taking third place after another exciting weekend of racing the new two-day format. For Beukes, the overall victory was incredibly sweet and confirmed his return to peak form after having spent three months recovering from a serious crash that damaged his hand, his shoulder and his foot. It was also his first ever overall win at an Ashburton Investments National MTB Series event. Philip Buys and teammate Matthys Beukes bump fists in victory as they celebrate their team win of the second stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za On Saturday, Beukes and Kruger went on the attack before halfway through the 69km stage and managed to hold their lead to the finish. In the final kilometre Beukes managed to pull clear of Kruger and claimed the stage win in a time of 02 hours 29 minutes and 16 seconds. Kruger rolled home second seven seconds later with Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) taking third place another minute back. The next seven finishers were all home within the next minute, confirming the tight racing on a day when the winning average speed was a very rapid 27.7kph! Day 2’s 54km route was shorter, but included more singletrack and a tough climb and rough descent near the finish. Beukes and Buys set a fast pace from the start and split the A group up considerably before halfway. On the big climb late in the stage, only series leader, Max Knox, was able to stay with the Pyga Eurosteel duo. On the rough, loose descent to the finish Knox was stung by a bee, which caused him to take a tumble, leaving him to limp to the end with a bent rear derailleur. Beukes and Buys charged ahead to secure first and second on the stage, with Buys crossing just a head of Beukes in a time of 2:02:02. HB Kruger (Team BCX) comfortably crosses the finish line in second place of the first stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Bell caught and passed Knox in the final 100 metres to secure third place on the stage a minute and a half after Buys and Beukes had rolled home. Kruger managed to grab fifth place 1:44 behind Buys. He’d done enough to be able to hold onto his second place overall behind the elated Beukes. “The plan for today (Day 2) was for me to look after Matthys to defend his lead. If we could try and get the minute and half that I was down yesterday, we’d try, but the priority was getting Matthys to the finish safely and fast,” said Buys afterwards. “It’s great to finally win. I have been second and third before at National MTB Series events, but this is my first win. It’s a good weekend for me,” said Beukes. “On the last big climb we pushed the pace hard. Max (Knox) stayed with us but on the descent Philip went to the front and just pushed the limits. I followed his wheel and we managed to get away and rolled into the finish. It’s our first win in the new team colours, which is great for our sponsors and supporters too,” smiled Beukes. “It was an aggressive race from the gun. Matthys went quite early on the attack and was on his own for a bit. I rode across to him on quite a gnarly section. The guys behind must have lagged for a bit as we got a gap quite quickly. Matthys was really strong and he opened up a gap on me on the last bit of singletrack. He was a well deserved winner,” said Kruger after Stage 1. Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) navigates the featured singletrack of the Titanic Trail on Stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za With both stage times combined, Beukes’s winning time was 4:31:19, 1:50 ahead of runner-up Kruger with Buys’s strong second stage putting him in third place in a time of 4:33:27. Bell ended up in fourth place with Knox fifth. Knox retains the overall series lead after three rounds. Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) leads Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) and Arno du Toit (LCB Racing) over a slick rock section during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 3, Clarens Marathon Men Stage 1: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:29:16 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:29:23 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:30:30 4 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 2:30:50 5 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Team BCX 2:30:50 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:30:54 7 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:31:05 8 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:31:25 9 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:31 10 Willie Smit (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:40Men Stage 2: 1 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:02 2 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:03 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:03:35 4 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:03:40 5 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:03:46 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:03:55 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:04:47 8 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:05:57 9 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 2:06:07 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 2:06:10 Men combined final positions: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:31:19 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 4:33:09 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:33:27 4 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:34:05 5 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 4:34:45 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 4:34:49 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 4:36:18 8 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 4:37:47 9 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 4:38:00 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 4:38:27 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions 1 Pieter du Toit 2:29:25 2 Brendan van Eeden 2:37:28 3 Marc Oliver Pritzen 2:38:15 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  8. South African towns don’t come more quaint that Clarens in the Eastern Free State. But with that quaint factor comes dollops of stimulating mountain biking in the Rooiberg mountain range that offers plenty of challenge and even more reward. For 2017, the Clarens round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series sees the continuation of the new two-day racing format, which is sure to be a success. Click here to view the article
  9. The scenic trails of Clarens make the 3rd round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series a yearly favourite. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za The two-day format also makes the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series events more attractive as a weekend-away trip, with the additional events on the Saturday (20km Fun Race) and Sunday (10km Fun Ride) offering all mountain bikers, no matter what level or age, an opportunity to enjoy mountain biking on well marked and managed routes at some of South Africa’s most beautiful towns. After three rounds 2016 National Marathon champion, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out), leads the men’s series rankings. His second place at Round 1 and two stage wins and the overall win at Round 2 give him 11853 points. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) is second on 10857 points with Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) in third on 10516 points. All three will be at Clarens, as well as Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) and the Pyga EuroSteel team of Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes. “Clarens is one of the best venues and most scenic tracks of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. I’m looking forward to racing the new two-day format there. Obviously, after the Cape Epic, everyone is a little tired. So I think whoever recovers best and has good legs for both days will win. I’m feeling healthy and strong after the Epic, but we’ll see how I feel at race pace! It’s important for me to have two solid stages so that I can build on my overall standings points,” said Knox, who was fourth overall at the Cape Epic. “We really enjoy the trails there and the altitude makes it challenging! Gawie finished second at Clarens last year and I was fourth. After a disappointing Cape Epic we are looking to do well at Clarens,” said Bell. “I’m looking forward to the race. We've always done well there, but it's going to be hard so close to Cape Epic,” said Combrinck. “Matthys and I will both be taking part. It will be our first race after Epic and our focus leading up to Clarens will be to recover from Epic and stay healthy,” said Buys. Heyns is one of the few top male entrants that didn’t do the Cape Epic. He will obviously be fresher than his rivals and could well have a physical and psychological advantage because of this. Max Knox tight on the heels of the Team NAD riders, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck at last year's Ashburton Investments National MTB in Clarens. All three riders will be pushing for podium positions this weekend. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za In the women’s category, series leader, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) will start as the favourite. A series of bad luck incidents put paid to her Cape Epic victory hopes, but a good result at Clarens will go some way to giving the South African champion reason to smile. “To be honest, I’m still getting used to this new two-day format. It is an exciting format and I always look forward to racing no matter what. ” added De Groot. Sure to challenge De Groot is Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia), who was a close second to De Groot at Round 1 in Sabie and who has come off the Cape Epic with a runner-up finish in the Mixed category. “Look, I’m uncertain as to what the Epic has done to me but I’m looking forward to the trails at Clarens. The venue is always one of my favourites,” said McDougall. Robyn de Groot leading Candice Lill and Samantha Sanders at the 2016 edition of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens. 3 Elite women who will be aiming for podium positions this weekend.Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Also tackling the Clarens round with Cape-Epic legs are Samantha Sanders (Valenica) and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk). Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) will have fresh legs, as she didn’t race the Cape Epic and looking forward to a good race. “I’m looking forward to the event – one of my favourite races of the year. My form is coming along nicely and I hope that the strong ladies field that was at the Epic this year will be there too. Its’ always great to have a stronger ladies field so that you push yourself that much harder.” said Bell. Candice Lill and Vera Adrian of Team dormakaba, who completed their first Cape Epic, are also on the start list for what should be a hotly contested women’s race. “I have competed at the Clarens round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series since I was a junior and I have such good memories of the town, the rock formations we race through and the rad singletrack. I have no doubt there will be some strong ladies and big names to race against, but I like a challenge,” added Lill. At 1800 metres above sea level (200 metres higher than Johannesburg), Clarens is considered an altitude-racing venue, which has more impact on the riders that don’t live and train in Johannesburg and Pretoria. For the competitive participants doing the two-day format Marathon event, Stage 1 is a 70km route with 1073 metres of ascent, while Stage 2 is 57km long with 1075m of elevation. Much of the route on Stage 1 will use the Titanic Trail, while Stage 2 will incorporate large sections of the Porcupine Trail. Both trails are a legacy of previous editions of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series and are now used to help attract mountain bikers to the town all year round. For the Half-marathon event competitors, Saturday’s distance is 40km and Sunday’s stage is 35km. There are also Single Day race options for 70km and 40km on Saturday (no points and no prize money for these). Also on Saturday is the 20km Fun Race and on Sunday the 10km Fun Ride. ProgrammeVenue: Town Square, Main Street, Clarens Saturday 8 April 06h00-09h15: Registration and late entries 07h30: 70km Marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h00: 40km Half-marathon (Stage 1) & Single Day 09h35: 20km Fun Race 11h00: Preliminary results Day 1 posted 12h00: Fun Race Prize Giving Sunday 9 April 06H30–09h10: Race office open & 10km Fun Ride registration 07h30: 56km Marathon (Stage 2) 09h00: 35km Half-marathon (Stage 2) 09h20: 10km Fun Ride 11h00: Preliminary results Day 2 posted 12h00: Prize giving (Day 2 and Overall) Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com
  10. A more refined route has been designed for the 2016 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens event, which doubles up as SA Marathon MTB champs and is scheduled to take place this Saturday in the Freestate Maluti Mountains. The scenic route, at a high average altitude of 1700m above sea level, offers an ideal blend of steep climbs, challenging descents, firm, flowing singletrack and dramatic rock slabs that are characteristic of the region’s geology. Click here to view the article
  11. The Elite men will cover 112km while the Elite women will cover 77.5km. There will be less gravel road than in previous editions of the event, which is Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, and more singletrack, making it more compact too. The amount of total vertical ascent in both races is significant enough to make the race favour strong climbers. There is 1552 metres of climbing in the Marathon and 2141m of ascent in the Ultra-marathon. According to Wessel van der Walt from Advendurance, the organisers, the term “slick rock” is well known amongst purist mountain bikers and refers to sandstone, mudstone, basalt and volcanic stone rock formations on which mountain bikes are ridden, mainly in Moab, in the USA. Slick Rock section forming part of the massive hills in Clarens - Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting “This rock has a very smooth appearance and is quite curvy in shape. Massive hills and outcrops in the Clarens region also have these exposed smooth, large rock plates. This is very similar to rock formations Moab, Utah, from where the term “slick rock” was derived,” said Van der Walt. Supporters and spectators will be happy to learn that the new more compact route allows an increased number of viewing points to be able to witness the showdown between the top mountain bikers in the country. The pre race favourites are far from decided following a very eventful Absa Cape Epic where Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill (USN PureFit) walked off with the coveted African jersey title. Both will be on the start line in Clarens, buoyed by their improved technical riding ability and Cape Epic success. But that was almost a month ago – and a lot can change in a few weeks. The 2015 national champion, Gawie Combrinck, and his NAD teammate, Nico Bell, are both sure to be in peak form for Saturday’s big showdown. They had a steady Cape Epic, finishing 12th overall and are both perennial podium challengers at the National Series events. “The national champs is one of my goals for the year and between Nico and myself, we would like to keep the title in the team. Clarens is always hard racing, the elevation means the air is really thin and you have to judge your efforts carefully,” said Combrinck. Some of the casualties from the Cape Epic who will be eager pull off a coup in Clarens include current national Cross-country champion, James Reid (Team Spur), HB Kruger (Team Telkom) and Gert Heyns (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing). Reid, winner of the national marathon championship in 2013 and 2014 will be motivated following his forced early exit from the Cape Epic due to temporary teammate, Heyns, falling ill. Heyns, now recovered, is sure to be a little fresher than his rivals and hungry to continue his rise up the marathon racing ranks, as will Kruger, another who failed to complete the Cape Epic due to illness. Matt Beers (Red-E Cannondale) is probably the dark horse in the field, having finished on an Ashburton Investments Series podium before, he knows what awaits and is about due a big career-boosting result. Clarens's iconic scenery - Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting In the elite women’s race, the clear pre-race favourite is Robyn de Groot who will be looking to not only defend her title but also match the four-in-a-row record of former Olympian, Yolande Speedy. “It’s one of those big goals for me each year. It is such a privilege to wear that jersey and have that title. I cherish the moment each time I race in the jersey. It is an important goal on my race calendar and a title that I’d like to hang on to,” said De Groot, who is enjoying superb form so far this year. De Groot’s primary rivals for the national title are likely to be Team Dorma’s Candice Neethling, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) and Vanessa Bell. While there’s intense focus on the national championship element of the event, all entrants will be chasing points that matter for the overall Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which crowns its winner closer to the end of the year after seven rounds of racing. For some it’s as important as a national title because it requires consistency throughout the year in order to excel. In addition to the Ultra-marathon and Marathon, which take place on Saturday, there will be a Half-marathon, Fun Race and Fun Ride on Sunday. South African Marathon Champions since 2005: 2005Men: John Paul Pearton Women: Yolande de Villiers 2006 Men: Kevin Evans Women: Anke Moore 2007 Men: Kevin Evans Women: Yolande Speedy 2008 Men: Kevin Evans Women: Yolande Speedy 2009 Men: Burry Stander Women: Yolande Speedy 2010 Men: Kevin Evans Women: Yolande Speedy 2011 Men: Burry Stander Women: Karien van Jaarsveld 2012 Men: Max Knox Women: Cherise Stander 2013 Men: James Reid Women: Robyn de Groot 2014 Men: James Reid Women: Robyn de Groot 2015 Men: Gawie Combrinck Women: Robyn de Groot Event schedule: Saturday 16 April06h00–09h00: Registration and line entries 07h00: Riders briefing 07h15: Start 112km Ultra Pro/Elite 07h20: Start 77.5km Marathon Ladies ‘A’ 07h30: Start 112km Ultra Amateur Men 07h40: Start 77.5km Marathon ‘A’. Batches at +5min intervals 13h00: Prize giving Sunday 17 April 06h30–09h00: Registration and line entries 07h45: Riders briefing 08h00: Start 43.5km Half-marathon ‘A’. Batches at +5min intervals 08h45: Start Fun Race ‘A’. Batches at +5min intervals 08h55: Start Fun Ride 13h00: Prize giving More info on www.nationalmtbseries.com Find us on Facebook: National MTB Series Follow us on Twitter: @natMTBseries
  12. The third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series this year plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens – from 16-17 April. Defending Elite Men’s Champion, Gawie Combrinck will be back and is ready to give it a full go and retain his National Title. Click here to view the article
  13. Combrinck, who recently completed the Absa Cape Epic with NAD Pro MTB teammate Nico Bell, will be traveling to the Free State to take on the scenic mountains and tackle the tough terrain. Defending Elite Men's Champion, Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB Team) is ready and eager to battle it out at the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens – from 16-17 April. Photo: JB Badenhorst. When asked about how he felt about going into the National Championship as the defending Champion, Combrinck said: “It is one of my goals for the year. Between Nico and myself, we would like to keep it in the team.” The 30-year-old rider mentioned that racing in Clarens is not easy. “It is hard racing. At this elevation the air is thin and you have to judge your efforts. It is quite spectacular racing over the huge granite rocks and unique terrain. Unfortunately we don’t get to enjoy the scenery that much,” he said. Combrinck has not always specialised in mountain-biking however, having been a road cycling competitor with Team Bonitas until he met Bell in 2012. “From then on I’ve just fallen in love with MTB racing.” Having a successful racing season last year, Combrink said that this season’s goals include Marathon Champs, The Ashburton Investments Series and larger stage races like the Absa Cape Epic, Old Mutual joBerg2c; sani2c, the Cape Pioneer Trek and Wines to Whales. While the 2016 SA National MTB Marathon Championships is targeted at the Elite Men (Ultra Marathon) Elite Women (Marathon) and Junior and Youth Men and Women (Half Marathon) for National Championship status, the race event is the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which caters for all age groups and fitness abilities. Not only does the picturesque Free State village boast exquisitely breath-taking mountain views, but also offers a range of activities such as golf, horse riding and hiking, a selection of coffee shops, cafes, art galleries and pubs. The event also offers child minding facilities, hospitality, bike wash and complete medical centre with a doctor on site. For more information and to enter, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-marathon-champs/. Online entries will remain open, even on the morning of the event, and line entries can be done at the event on the day too.
  14. Stellenbosch’s Sipho Madolo from the Songo.info programme will use the experience he gained from the world’s most gruelling eight-day mountain bike stage race when he tackles the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series – which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens – from 16-17 April. Click here to view the article
  15. After recently completing the Absa Cape Epic with the legendary Swiss mountain bike specialist Christoph Sauser, Madolo says that the experience of racing with Sauser at the Epic is something that cannot be matched. Sipho Madolo from the Songo.info programme will use the experience he gained from the world’s most gruelling eight-day mountain bike stage race when he tackles the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series – which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens – from 16-17 April. Photo credit: Andrew McFadden. “I think it was a highlight of my racing career,” said Madolo. “I learnt how to eat, drink, save time at the feed zone, position myself the entire time during the race and most importantly, have fun. Racing with a legend like Sauser was a learning process and growing experience so it actually gave me more motivation for marathon racing even though I will still stick to the cross-country, as I feel like that’s where you can improve your skills, intensity and power for marathon racing.” The 25-year-old joined Songo.info towards the end of 2009 at the age of 18 with his main motivation to lose weight. “I noticed however, that he was more committed than the other guys,” said Songo Fipaza, founder of the Songo.info programme. “He was so committed to his training. We would train seven days of running and seven days of cycling, and so on, and if I wasn't around or if I had to go out, then some of the guys would take a chance and skip training, but not Sipho. “I could see his commitment and dedication to getting fit and chose him to be my partner for the 2010 Cape Epic. He hasn't looked back. And now with Susi transferring knowledge and mentoring him during this year’s Epic, he is going from strength to strength. His goal is to wear the African jersey and to also win the Epic one day.” Even though Madolo has a strong focus on cross-country racing, he will still be racing in the SA MTB Marathon Champs in Clarens this April after skipping a year. “I am really looking forward to it!” he said. While the 2016 SA National MTB Marathon Championships is targeted at the Elite Men (Ultra Marathon) Elite Women (Marathon) and Junior and Youth Men and Women (Half Marathon) for National Championship status, the race event is the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which caters for all age groups and fitness abilities. Not only does the picturesque Free State village boast exquisitely breath-taking mountain views, but also offers a range of activities such as golf, horse riding and hiking, a selection of coffee shops, cafes, art galleries and pubs. The event also offers child minding facilities, hospitality, bike wash and complete medical centre with a doctor on site. For more information and to enter, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-marathon-champs/.
  16. After having just completing the Absa Cape Epic, Swanepoel is feeling surprisingly fresh. “Look, there are different levels of killing yourself out there, and I just killed myself a little less. Its all relative I guess, so I’m feeling pretty good,” he laughed. He spoke of the venue of this year’s National Championships, and said: “Clarens is beautiful. It just has such unbelievably unique terrain, and there’s a great variety of racing. It’s quite a high altitude course – so that could influence the riding of the guys from the coast.” Marathon racing stalwart, Ben "Melt" Swanepoel is keen to tackle the trails in Clarens for round three of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series – which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships – in the Free State from 16-17 April. Photo: supplied When chatting about personal goals ahead of the event, he said: “I think all of us as humans have some form of goal or another in mind going into these races. We all try to do as well as we can within our given constraints – be it the Pro-Elites who went all-out at epic, or your weekend warriors who only get to ride then,” he said.The major difference between cross-country and marathon racing, according to Swanepoel, is energy and pace. He stressed the importance of energy output on the longer rides, how every little bit of exertion counts, and how it will come back to help you or haunt you later on in the race, depending on how you’ve used it. “With cross-country racing, it's a shorter time so you have to go flat out from start to finish. For marathon, you have to pace yourself, push a bit, ride a bit. One of the most important things to have out there is backup and support. If you have somebody out there handing you a bottle and you do not have to use that extra energy to go and get from the water tables, the amount of energy you’ll be saving is incredible,” he said. While the 2016 SA National MTB Marathon Championships is targeted at the Elite Men (Ultra Marathon) Elite Women (Marathon) and Junior and Youth Men and Women (Half Marathon) for National Championship status, the race event is the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which caters for all age groups and fitness abilities. Not only does the picturesque Free State village boast exquisitely breath-taking mountain views, but also offers a range of activities such as golf, horse riding and hiking, a selection of coffee shops, cafes, art galleries and pubs. The event also offers child minding facilities, hospitality, bike wash and complete medical centre with a doctor on site. For more information and to enter, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-marathon-champs/.
  17. The third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series – which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships – is almost upon us and the sublime trails of the Clarens countryside will attract South Africa’s finest endurance athletes from 16-17 April. South Africa’s Ben “Melt” Swanepoel has always enjoyed riding his bicycle and changed over from a keen cross-country racer to a marathon enthusiast, without completely leaving the shorter rides behind. “I just absolutely love riding my mountain bike,” he said. Click here to view the article
  18. The exquisite Maluti and Rooiberg Mountains, which form part of the Drakensberg mountain range along the South African and Lesotho border, boast some of the most naturally unique rock formations and outcrops that have been weathered away over centuries in the unspoilt terrain. Athletes like defending Champion, Gawie Combrink, will battle for glory over picturesque landscapes at the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships in Clarens, Free State from 16-17 April. Littered with river crossings, rock pools and trails that are seemingly etched out of the rock, the trails meander through grasslands and “gives the participants the feeling that they are riding in the shadow of these majestic giants. Lots of fauna and flora can be seen and it’s great to experience places in our country where the beauty of nature remains untouched,” says Advendurance event organiser, Wessel van der Walt.The term “slick rock” is well known amongst purist mountain bikers and refers to sandstone, mudstone, basalt and volcanic stone rock formations. Ancient desert dunes have hardened over hundreds of years to form the sandstone. “This rock has a very smooth appearance and is quite curvy in it’s shape. Massive hills and outcrops have these smooth large rock plates. This is vey similar to rock formations in the Utah desert where the term “slick rock” was derived from,” said Van Der Walt. He went on to explain the beauty of this rock: “Although called“slick rock”, it doesn’t mean the actual rock is slick.” On the contrary, the texture is very grippy, which is why mountain bikers love it. “You’ll be amazed at the steep inclines you’re able to ride. The slickness is actually the smoothness and flowing lines are created along the seemingly unending rock plates. It’s really special to be able to ride on this type of surface, or even race on it, as most of it is found on private land and in nature reserves.” According to Van Der Walt, the race route this year has been condensed into a smaller area to allow for more spectator points. “The Ultra Marathon distance will come very close to the finish before heading out onto their second loop of about 36km. We are planning to have about five spectator points on route,” he says. Van Der Walt refers to Clarens as a 112 kilometre cross-country course and cautions the riders to pace themselves and to plan their attack. To encapsulate the essence of mountain bike marathon racing, Van der Walt adds: “Cross-country Marathons have climbs that are as long as, or up to three times as long, as a whole cross-country course. Here, the obstacle is surviving the distance, being self sufficient, and using team tactics also usually plays a big role. Many of the cross-country marathons suit climbers having a better power to body weight ratio, but Clarens is always won by an all-rounder." Entries for the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships, are open. Elite, Junior and Youth categories can enter online here: https://www.saseeding.org/Participants/Entry?event_id=a4bef1cd-b19f-11e5-907e-08002773d9e3. Those riders competing on the 2016 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series can enter here: https://www.saseeding.org/Participants/Entry?event_id=a4bef26d-b19f-11e5-907e-08002773d9e3 For more information, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-marathon-champs/
  19. The picturesque Free State countryside village of Clarens is set to welcome the third round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series, which plays host to the 2016 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships, from 16-17 April. The endurance competition is targeted at the Elite Men (Ultra Marathon) Elite Women (Marathon) and Junior, Youth Men and Women categories (Half Marathon). Click here to view the article
  20. Hey guys, Managing a game farm in Clarens, 2200ha with wild game on it, on the Maluti overlooking Clarens and bordering Lesotho. Keen to market it to MTBérs. Is there anyone who contracts out to advise on how and what etc. for MTB trails, Beginner, Technical and Downhill. Endless possibilities. Thanks jp@deemster.co.za 061 8488324
  21. I stay on a game farm in Clarens so MTB biking no worries here on the farm. BUT Wouldn't mind a daily road ride to Fouriesburg. Anybody out theeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrre ???????? Thanks JP
  22. Germany’s Stefan Sahm and Switzerland’s Ariane Kleinhans won the men and women’s titles respectively at Round 3 of the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens, in the Eastern Free State, South Africa at the weekend. The event also doubled as Round 3 of the International Cycling Union’s 2015 Marathon World Series. Click here to view the article
  23. Sahm, a three-time winner of the Absa Cape Epic, measured his effort over the challenging 118km route perfectly, riding away from a six-man lead group with 8km remaining. He clocked a winning time of 4 hours 49minutes 51 seconds. Second place went to Switzerland’s Konny Looser (Meerendal Wheeler) in 4:50:24, with South African Max Knox (Biogen Volcan) rounding out the top three in 4:50:33. Stefan Sahm. // Photo credit: ZoonCronje.com. In the women’s race over 75km, Kleinhans set a hard pace from the start to claim the title in a time of 3:16:11. She was followed home by RECM teammate, Cherise Stander, two-and-a-half minutes later, with Swedish Marathon Champion, Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) completing the podium in 3:20:00. The men’s race saw a tense battle develop with 15 riders in the lead pack going into Witkrans, 35km into the race. Some aggressive racing by Team RECM saw the pack whittled down to eight with James Reid and Erik Kleinhans driving the pace in an effort to soften up RECM’s rivals and set something up for teammate and defending champion, Nico Bell. But Bell was forced to withdraw after his rear derailleur broke when a piece of wire became entangled in it. Kleinhans began to fade as the race wore on, but Reid, the current South African marathon champion, was making the pace hard upfront, claiming the King of the Mountains title and trimming and the group down to six: Reid, Sahm, Looser, Knox, Matt Beers and Series Leader, Waylon Woolcock, competing in his first race without a sponsor. Stunning Scenery as riders make their way through the Maluti Mountains at Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Clarens. // Photo credit: ZoonCronje.com. The steep, unpredictable slick rock climbing section proved a telling factor with Looser and Reid the most capable in conquering it. Beers lost the front group, and with 8km remaining on a climb, Sahm increased his pace and rode clear, splintering the group in the process. The 38-year-old German was hungry for the win though and he managed to hold off a game Looser and Knox in the final run in to the finish in the Clarens Town Square. Woolcock missed a turn and had to chase hard to catch Reid, just losing the sprint for fourth to the RECM rider. “The route was unbelievable! You don’t get slick rock like that in a race anywhere else. The organisation and trails were just excellent. The race was very competitive and there were bunches throughout almost, which made for close racing,” said an elated Sahm. “Stefan attacked at just the right time. I was so keen to win here and I gave it my all from the start. But Stefan was just too strong at the end. I’m happy with second place after a battle like that,” smiled Looser. In the women’s race, Kleinhans may have led from start to finish, claiming the Queen of the Mountain title in the process, but the gaps between the women were a lot smaller than normal, indicating a competitive field. Runner-up Stander was somewhat of a surprise. She has been focussed on road racing recently but is clearly beginning to rediscover the form that took her to the South African Marathon title in 2012. The riders being shadowed by the media helicopter while riding the hand built trails. // Photo credit: ZoonCronje.com. Just over a minute behind Stander was Stenerhag, who was left to launch a lone onslaught on the title after Ascendis Health teammate and South African marathon champion; Robyn de Groot was forced to withdraw due to a niggling shoulder injury. “I found the first 20km very technical, but I managed to get a gap not knowing there would be flat open roads after that. When I got to the gravel roads though, I put myself into time trial mode and just went for it. It’s great to have Cherise finish second. I’m happy for her and the team to have the top two places,” smiled Kleinhans. Photo credit: ZoonCronje.com. On Sunday more than a thousand more riders completed the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 45km Half-marathon and 20km and 10km fun rides to complete the weekend of quality mountain bike racing in Clarens. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s North West province for Round 4, on 6 June. The event doubles as 2015 South African Marathon Championships. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com. For full results, visit: www.saseeding.co.za. 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 3, Clarens, Saturday 18 April 2015 Leading results Elite men – 118km Ultra-marathon: 1 Stefan Sahm (GER) Team Bulls 4:49:51 2 Konny Looser (SUI) Meerendal Wheeler 4:50:24 3 Max Knox (RSA) Biogen-Volcan 4:50:33 4 James Reid (RSA) Team RECM 4:51:32 5 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) 4:51:34 6 Matthew Beers (RSA) 4:57:24 7 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) 5:05:17 8 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 5:07:13 9 Guylin van den Berg (RSA) 5:10:13 10 Adriaan Louw (RSA) Contego 5:22:31 Elite women – 75km marathon: 1 Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) Team RECM 3:16:11 2 Cherise Stander (RSA) Team RECM 3:18:42 3 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 3:20:00 4 Vera Adrian (NAM) BestMed ASG 3:22:08 5 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin 3:23:45 6 Theresa Ralph (RSA) Team RBS 3:29:50 7 Janine Rawlinson (RSA) 3:34:40 8 Candice Neethling (RSA) Freewheel Cycology 3:43:21 9 Sanet Coetzee (RSA) 3:48:48 10 Susan Sloan (RSA) 3:48:59
  24. After two rounds, South African Waylon Woolcock (Red-E Blend) leads the prestigious national MTB series in the ultra-marathon category where the Elite and Under-23 men do battle. He has a slim two-point lead over Swiss rider, Konny Looser (Meerendal Wheeler), with Erik Kleinhans (RECM) in third. Stunning Scenery as riders make their way through the Maluti Mountains at MTB Clarens. Expect all three to be on the start line of the 120km race in Clarens, although for Woolcock, the trip to Clarens in itself was a challenge as he and teammate Darren Lill were unable to secure team sponsorship after the Cape Epic. Woolcock, will be racing in neutral kit, but wearing the series leader’s orange jersey. “Being in the leader’s jersey and with a possible good pay day if I have a good result, I made a plan to get to Clarens,” said Woolcock. “I reckon I have some decent form but it’s hard to tell how the body will respond in the first major race after the Cape Epic. I’ll be giving my all though, that’s for certain.” Winner of the previous round at Sabie, Max Knox (Biogen Volcan) will also be lining up and eager to secure his second title of the 2015 Series. He’s in superb form with his sights set on claiming the overall National Series title for a second time. Also expect a strong performance from Matt Beers. The third-placed finisher at Sabie rode himself into the national series limelight with that result and confirmed that he’s a rising star in the discipline after only focussing on marathon racing for the past two years. Other podium contenders in the men’s race include Germany’s Stefan Sahm (Bulls), Nico Bell (RECM), Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling), Adriaan Louw (Contego Swift) and Darren Lill. The women’s race is likely to be another showdown between RECM’s Series leader, Ariane Kleinhans and the Ascendis Health pair of Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag, who occupy the top three Series positions respectively. Kleinhans and Danish teammate Annika Langvad were dominant winners of last month’s Cape Epic with the Ascendis Health pair finishing runners up. The infamous slick rock climb at MTB Clarens. De Groot has been struggling with a fractured clavicle and Clarens will be her first major post-injury test to see if she can dethrone the flying Kleinhans, who was second at Round 1 in Meerendal and winner at Round 2 in Sabie. Also expect Theresa Ralph (RBS), to be in the battle for a podium place. Ralph won the Clarens event in 2014 and is eager to try and defend her title after struggling to find her best form in the summer. “The terrain does suit me and I’ve got quite good form, but I think more than that, I have altitude conditioning on my side. I seem to cope better with the altitude than the coastal riders as I live and train in Johannesburg,” said Ralph. The average elevation of the Clarens course is 1700 metres above sea level, similar to that of Johannesburg. The women will race over the 75km marathon distance and also likely to be in the podium hunt are Theresa Ralph (RBS), Candice Neethling, Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) and Cherise Stander (RECM). The route is probably the most visually appealing and varied of all the National MTB series events. But it’s also likely to be the most challenging. It follows gravel road, jeep track, huge rock-trails and singletrack over some of the most incredible rock landscapes of the Eastern Free State. It’s a new route and traverses mostly private land with an abundance of wild life. The race starts and finishes in the Clarens Town Square and crosses the Maluti Mountains on the edge of the Lesotho border. The trails for the route have been built and maintained by the Working on Fire teams, when they aren’t fighting fires. This not only creates sustainable trails but also injects money into local tourism well after the race has been run. The event has shown a steady growth since it became part of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. It attracted 1550 entrants in 2012 and is expected to be around 2200 this year. On Sunday, there will be a 48km Half-marathon as well as 20km and 10km fun rides, making it a worthwhile weekend getaway for the whole family. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com. For full results, visit: www.saseeding.co.za. 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Standings Elitemen – 115km Ultra-marathon: 1. Waylon Woolcock 2. Konny Looser 3. Erik Kleinhans 4. Mathew Beers 5. Stefan Sahm 6. Arno Du Toit 7. Nico Bell 8. Gawie Combrinck 9. Adriaan Louw 10.Timo Cooper Elitewomen – 72km marathon: 1. Ariane Kleinhans 2. Robyn De Groot 3. Jennie Stenerhag 4. Candice Neethling 5. Nicola Gilliomee
  25. After a short break, the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series resumes on Saturday with Round 3 in Clarens, in the Free State province. The event also doubles as a round of the UCI Marathon World Series and has attracted a strong field. Click here to view the article
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