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  1. Not sure how to title this post that I'm devastated to be writing... but I thought I must share. Erik had a bad accident last night and broke his neck. He's one of the toughest people I have ever met and I'm sure he'll pull through this! here's the post his son Victor put on Facebook:- "Morning everyone, posting on behalf of my old man. Last night at 07:00 he was cycling back home after training with me . He was'nt home for dinner, and is no stranger to late night cycles. After a half hour I started searching for him, phoning his cell countless times. Eventually I heard his calls for help, 10m from our entrance, he was blinded by lights and fell down a storm drain, breaking his nek at 6/7. He could not feel his legs, unnable to answer his phone. He is now in brits mediclinic with a possibility of being moved. We thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. We know him, lying down, and lying still are not one of his favorite things to do. Hes in good spirits , incredibly fit and has a never say die attitude, well take it on the chin, roll with the punches...my mother's given him so many kisses he loves the attention hes getting. I am his contact person for the time being." Thoughts, prayers, well wishes to the master trail builder
  2. Beukes dug deep to overcome an impressive race-long challenge from Brendon Davids (Road Cover), eventually clocking a winning time of 2 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds, which was just one second ahead of the fast-finishing Davids. Brendon Davids (Road Cover) and Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Crossing the water bridge the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) was at the front of the race with Beukes and Davids until a mechanical delayed his progress. He eventually finished fourth, behind Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) who grabbed the final podium spot. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), the Series leader going into the event, finished fifth. “I think this course is bit too flat for me and Brendon is really strong on the flats. He had me in the hurt box a lot. Me, Brendon and Phil got away early but unfortunately Phil punctured and I just had to stick to Brendon’s wheel. On the flats I was bleeding to keep up,” explained a weary Beukes. “And on the last climb I thought it’s game over for me. I thought I’ll just put one last final effort in. I saw then that he was on the limit as well, which motivated me so I pinned it to the end. I got a bit tired towards the finish. I ran out of energy and Brendon almost caught me on the line,” added Beukes. In terms of taking the Series lead, Beukes remained realistic in his approach. “Obviously it’s good to take the lead in the Series. Confidence wise it’s a nice boost. I haven’t been looking at the overall Series, but rather just taking each event individually and try and do my best at each one. Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) crosses finish line a second ahead of Brendon Davids (Road Cover) after a tight final sprint at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Van Gaalen gave us a true mountain biker’s race and Brendon showed that he’s not lost his touch on the technical stuff. You have to be smooth on this kind of terrain in order to be fast and it was a really enjoyable route,” added Beukes. “It was a hard day out. Quite fast. The Pyga guys were attacking me left right and centre from the start. It really made for some hard racing. I lost Matthys’s wheel with about five kilometres to go. But I managed to collect myself again and started my charge towards the finish. Unfortunately, we had some run-ins with some backmarkers near the end. But ultimately the strongest guy won. Hats off to Matthys,” said Davids, who is focussing predominantly on road racing in 2017. “I was really impressed with the route. It’s my first time racing at Van Gaalen and it’s definitely one of my favourite routes. Brendon and Matthys were really strong. From 20 kays in they got a gap on me and I could never really close. It was good to finish on the podium,” said Heyns. Elite men’s podium -from left to right- Gert Hyns (Ascendis Health) Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Brendon Davids (Road Cover). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 2-3 September at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The early spring two-day event is expected to attract a large field. For more information, or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 5, Van GaalenMarathon Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) 2:55:34 2 Brendon Davids (Road Cover) 2:55:35 3 Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) 2:59:00 4 Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) 3:00:38 5 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 3:02:00 6 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 3:04:47 7 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 3:05:31 8 Wessel Botha 3:12:35 9 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 3:13:41 10 Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin Merida) 3:15:45 Half-marathon Males 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 1:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 1:42:29 3 Chris du Plessis 1:43:22 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  3. Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) eventually triumphed in a race-long duel with Round 4 winner, Brendon Davids (Road Cover) to claim the win in a time of 02:55:34. Davids was just 0.1 seconds behind with Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) rounding out the podium places. Elite Men. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Brendon is so strong on the flats and there’s quite a lot of flat sections here. I was bleeding to keep on his wheel. On the last climb I thought it was game over for me, so I just put in one last attack and it worked out. I got a gap and just tried to hold my small lead to the end, which I only just managed to do,” said a weary Beukes, who now takes the Series lead going into Round 6. In the women’s race a tight tussle saw Neethling (dormakaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) duke it out in a sprint, with Neethling just edging ahead to take the win in a time of 03:29:14. Sanders was given the same time with South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) taking third place in 03:30:31. De Groot still holds onto the Series lead. Elite Women. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I checked out the finish before the start and knew the first person into the last corner should win. So my positioning at the end was perfect for that sprint. It was a hot pace from the beginning in the women’s race today and I’m very happy to have won. It’s a really challenging route, which I love,” smiled Neethling. Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series takes place at Dullstroom, Mpumalanga on 2 and 3 September 2017. To enter, or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Leading Results Marathon Men1 Matthys Beukes 02:55:34 2 Brendon Davids 02:55:35 3 Gert Heyns 02:59:00 4 Philip Buys 03:00:38 5 Nico Bell 03:02:00 Women 1 Candice Neethling 03:29:14 2 Samantha Sanders 03:29:15 3 Robyn De Groot 03:30:31 4 Theresa Ralph 03:42:41 5 Sarah Hill 03:45:34 Half Marathon Men 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 01:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 01:42:29 3 Chris Du Plessis Du Plessis 01:43:22 Women 1 Danielle Strydom 02:00:04 2 Thana Groenewald 02:03:27 3 Frances Janse van Rensburg 02:08:50
  4. Less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria, Van Gaalen offers a traditionally tough allround challenge, with the steep gradients, rugged terrain and stimulating singletrack making for a comprehensive test of rider strength and skill. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), making every race count, will be out to maintain he’s series lead this weekend at Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Unlike recent years, when the Elite men have tackled an ultra-marathon, this year they will, join the Elite women in a marathon distance battle over 68km, which should make for an intense, exciting battle as a number of riders vie for the points that could swing the 2017 national marathon series title in their favour. South African marathon champion, Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) currently leads the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series men’s rankings with 25 198 points from seven stages. Bell’s Team NAD Pro teammate, Gawie Combrinck is currently second with 23 004 points, also from seven stages and 2016 champion, Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) is third on 22 552 from six stages. The Pyga Eurosteel pairing of Philip Buys (22 443 points) and Matthys Beukes (21 728 points) are close behind in fourth and fifth respectively. Buys has completed six stages and Beukes seven. The way the scoring works in 2017, the points from each rider’s best seven results of the 12 stages will count. “Yes, the series is wide spread across the year and it is often difficult to be at your best at each event, so to be the leader you have to finish every event you start and then after the 12 you hope you have enough good results to make seven of them count! We will be looking to race hard over the next few rounds and hopefully we have form on the day!” said Bell. Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) who won the National Marathon Title at Van Gaalen in 2015 is sure to be a race favourite this weekend. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Joining Bell on the start line at Van Gaalen is his teammate, Combrinck. Van Gaalen is the venue where Combrinck won the South African marathon title in 2015 and he’ll be hoping for similar success on Saturday. Also confirmed in the men’s race are Knox, Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) and Arno du Toit (LCB Racing), as well as Buys and Beukes. “I haven't checked the overall Ashburton Investments National MTB Series standings, but we are more focussed on winning the races than winning the Series. But it will be a bonus if we can get the Series lead or overall win,” said Buys, fresh from his victory at last weekend’s Nissan Trailseeker Series Lionman event. In the women’s division South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) holds the current series lead with a score of 23 434 points from six stages. Sarah Hill is in second place with 18745 points from six stages and Amy Beth McDougall third on 18 739 points from five stages. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) current series leader, will be a race favourite for the women’s race this weekend at Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za McDougall, winner of the last two stages, will be absent on Saturday as she’s racing abroad. But there’s certain to be a tight tussle for the women’s title with De Groot the firm favourite. She’ll be wary of Samantha Sanders (Valencia) and Candice Lill (dormbakaba), both currently in good form, as well as Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Sarah Hill (Liv). “I really enjoy Van Gaalen. It’s proper mountain biking with some tricky descents and technical climbs. I enjoy the rocky trails and I feel the course suits me quite well. That being said, it’s difficult to just ride away because there is a section of open dirt road towards the end. My form is quite good so let’s see how it goes,” said Lill, winner at Van Gaalen last year. Aerial shot of Candice Lill (dormakaba) leading Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) at last year’s Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I haven’t raced many rounds of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series this year – only two I think – so not sitting too high up in the overall points standings. I love Van Gaalen though. I love the trails and the area, but I’m yet to have a good race there. Hopefully that will change this weekend,” said Sanders. There is 1103 metres of accumulated ascent in the marathon, which includes six notable climbs. The 43km half-marathon only has 242m of ascent and is expected to be fast. There is also a 20km Fun Race and a 10km Fun Ride. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Leading positions after four rounds (seven stages): Marathon Men: 1 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 25 198 points 2 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 23 004 3 Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) 22 552 4 Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) 22 443 5 Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) 21 728 6 Dylan Rebello (Imbuko Momsen) 20 894 7 Wessel Botha 18 815 8 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 18 673 9 Alan Gordon 18 136 10 David Low 18 128Women: 1 Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) 23 434 2 Sarah Hill (Liv) 18 745 3 Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) 18 739 4 Janice Venter 16 529 5 Julia Kotze 15 965 6 Haley Smith (Bell Racing) 14 177 7 Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling) 12 389 8 Candice Neethling (dormakaba) 11 077 9 Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 10 420 10 Kristen Louw 9 942 Half-marathon Male 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 21 836 2 Wicus Breytenbach 20 671 3 Hennie van Wyk 20 471 Female 1 Rimari Sutton 24 129 2 Anjenel van der Walt 23 439 3 Tanya Kotze 22 684 Entries are still open and can be done online at www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  5. With the promise of some spectacular cloud formations and an epic sunset thanks to the daily thunderstorms rolling through this part of the country, we headed for the hills in search of some elevation. Contrasting the smooth and ultra fast trails down by the river, Pofadder provides you the opportunity to ride some rocks - big ones, small ones, jagged ones and then everything else in-between. And a quick diversion off the relatively overgrown and rocky path, revealed some off-piste magic in the form of a dried-up, riverbed, cascading down into the valley below. Daily thunderstorms decorating boring skies with epic cloud formations, and keeping warm summer's days mild and bearable. Not having local knowledge on our side, we probably would not have found this, the Pofadder trail head. A random clearing next to a random dirt road seems to be it, apparently. Hard packed single track through tall grass fields gets things going, but trail conditions quickly turn rocky and technical as you ascend the Puff Adder. Loads of skinny gaps along some properly tight and technical sections of trail, keeps you on your toes. Preparing to get soaked as the bursts of rain moved ever closer to our position. Off-piste exploration courtesy of Hayden Brown, sending us down a seemingly ancient and overgrown, dried up ravine. Some hectic climbing leading to some well deserved and awesome down runs, with rocks that took the Trail Daze crew's breath away. Hayden took us down a dry river bed with big sheets of exposed rock creating some crazy fast sections with awesome drops and tech features along the way. Pofadder, a trail not to be taken lightly, probably the longest descending trail around JHB, it just keeps on going giving you no time to rest or relax. Some rocky trails definitely worth checking out. Chris Pearton Trails this unique and fun deserves a few reruns... One more push up to the top as the light fades behind ominous storm clouds, and we prepare to take cover from the approaching squall. Wild & untamed trails. This setting reminds me of a scene from Jurassic Park - all that lacks are a few Ptero and Brachiosaurus in the background. Luckily, the rain moved on past us and we were spared getting wet. And as quickly as it had formed, the storm disappeared again, allowing the sun to peak through once more for a spectacular sunset. Having just recently moved to the area, I had limited knowledge of the trail we had set off on, but I knew that "Pofadder" was the longest and more tech of the lot... The weather wasn't all that glamorous when we set off but as we got closer and closer to the top of the mountain, we were treated to the most spectacular sunset! Hayden Brown Red dirt, blue-green grass, acacia trees, thunderstorms and racing home in the dark - a happy reminder from my days riding in Howick! The Pofadder trail offers sweeping savannah vistas with ribbons of singletrack enticing you onwards and upwards. The trail down is long, rocky and gnarly, and Hayden's local knowledge ensured that we rode a little known gem of a trail. This kind of trail is why I love South Africa! Daniel Dobinson | iRideAfrica Thanks NWP. You've treated us well during our visit. Nothing to do now but head back home and have a braai. Until we meet again next time... This project is made possible by: GPS: 25°48'09.4"S 27°47'53.6"E Permit: R50 (part of greater Van Gaalens trail network) All images by Ewald Sadie www.esphotography.co.za instagram: @ewaldsadie Riders : Daniel Dobinson | Hayden Brown | Chris Pearton Stay tuned to Bike Hub for more Trail Daze coming soon...
  6. Our third and final outing in our search for the North West province's finest trails took us to the lesser known Pofadder trail at Van Gaalen's. With no markings or signage in sight, it's a great idea to have a local show you around this rough and rocky part of town - and to experience all the off-piste goodness it has to offer - it's an even better idea to bring a proper long-travel trail bike along for the ride. Click here to view the article
  7. Event Name: Ashburton Investments National MTB Series VAN GAALEN When: 11 June 2016 Where: Van Gaalen Cheese Farm, R560, North West, North West Category: MTB Many Gauteng mountain bikers rate the trails as Van Gaalen Cheese farm as the best in the province. Known for the abundance of single track and varied terrain with the occasional hard climb. Expect big numbers and exhilarating racing! Van Gaalen has over the last 7 years built a seemingly endless amount of trails that snakes over the Magalies, through ravines and gorges, along sweet contours, and carves absolutely sick lines along the river banks. The event will showcase a combination of the best of mountain biking that Van Gaalens has to offer come and truly explore the Magalies area! Go to Event Page
  8. Knox (Lowveld Tractors/Dirk Louwrens Cycles), the current South African marathon champion, used his strength on the climbs to dispatch a strong men’s field and claim victory on the tough 113km course in a time of 04 hours 45 minutes 02 seconds. Nico Bell (Team NAD), was next home, three-and-a-half minutes later with HB Kruger (Team Telkom) rounding out the top three podium places a further two minutes back after finish line dash against Luus (PSG). It’s the first time Knox has won at Van Gaalen and the 4000 points for the win gives him a significant boost in his hopes to retain the Series title that he won in a tight contest last year. Max Knox with Nico Bell hot on his heels. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting On the first major climb early on, the field began to split with a lead group of seven forming. This group comprised Knox, Bell, Kruger, Philip Buys (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing), Matt Beers (Red-E Cannondale), Lourens Luus (PSG) and Matthys Beukes (SCOTT LCB Factory Racing). Despite a number of attacks on the gravel roads around midway through the race, nobody was able to break clear. When the climbing started again at around 70km, Knox rode clear of the group with only Bell able to go with him. “We soon had a good lead on the others and I knew that it would be between myself and Nico for the win,” said Knox afterwards. “As we approached the Concrete Road Climb for the second time, I saw Nico was taking a bit of strain. I kept my speed quite high and that let me get the lead on my own. From there it was head down and keep as safe as possible to the finish. It all went well and I’m very pleased to get my second win in the Series this year,” added Knox. In the women’s race, Neethling (Dorma) and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) proved to be the strongest on the early climbs, riding ahead of their rivals. Neethling kept the pace constant and got a gap on McDougall early on. She managed to keep a consistent pace for the remainder of the 73km race and avoided any crashes or mechanicals to claim the win in a time of 3:31:19. McDougall claimed second place almost five minutes later with Samantha Saunders (Valencia) securing the final podium place a further five minutes back. “On the Concrete Road Climb early on I was leading and I kept making small gaps which Amy had to keep closing down. I know from being in that position that it takes a lot out of you – physically and mentally) to keep riding back to someone. And eventually it became too much for Amy and I rode clear. Candice Neethling, ready and eager on the start line. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting “I grew up riding and racing steep, rocky terrain where you have to constantly pick your line at the last moment. The Van Gaalen terrain is similar and I suppose that helped me. I didn’t take any risks on the descents and just focussed on riding at the maximum pace I knew I could maintain until the finish,” explained Neethling afterwards. In the overall National MTB Series standings things are heating up with the best result from four events in the Series counting towards the final standings. Knox currently in 5th stands to catapult up the standings as soon as he completes his fourth event even though Bell is still leading the charge ahead of Gawie Combrinck and Waylon Woolcock. The fight is far from over with three events remaining the overall standings are far from cast in stone. In the women’s race McDougall moved into 1st overall passing an injured Robyn de Groot and Candice Neethling both on only three events. De Groot and Neethling are separated by less than 500 points after four rounds with De Groot having won two rounds versus Neethling’s one this weekend. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now heads to Ballito in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province for Round 5, on 23 July. For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com For full results, visit: www.saseeding.org 2016 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 4, Van Gaalen, Saturday 11 June 2016 Leading results Elite men – 113km Ultra-marathon: 1 Max Knox (RSA) Lowveld Tractors/Dirk Louwrens Cycles 4:45:02 2 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD 4:48:51 3 HB Kruger (RSA) Team Telkom 4:50:43 4 Lourens Luus (RSA) PSG 4:50:45 5 Matt Beers (RSA) Red-E Cannondale 4:52:05 6 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) USN Purefit 4:59:12 7 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Team NAD 5:00:55 8 Matthys Beukes (RSA) SCOTT LCB Factory Racing 5:03:59 9 Philip Buys (RSA) SCOTT LCB Factory Racing 5:09:48 10 Julius Cobbett (RSA) Cycle Nation 5:22:49 Elite women – 73km marathon: 1 Candice Neethling (RSA) Dorma 3:31:19 2 Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 3:36:16 3 Samantha Sanders (RSA) Valencia 3:41:15 4 Vanessa Bell (RSA) Bells Cycling 3:48:23 5 Genevieve van Coller (RSA) 3:56:05 6 Sarah Hill (RSA) 4:01:24 7 Tamaryn Kietzmann (RSA) 4:07:31 8 Emily Clarke (RSA) 4:08:55 9 Michelle Benson (RSA) 4:10:12 10 Janine Muller (RSA) 4:14:53
  9. Max Knox and Candice Neethling raced to emphatic wins in the Elite men and women’s categories respectively at Van Gaalen at the weekend, putting them both in line for a shot at the prestigious Ashburton Investments National MTB Series titles for 2016. Click here to view the article
  10. Nestled at the foot of the Magaliesberg mountain range, and close to Hartebeespoort Dam, Van Gaalen was the venue of the 2015 South African marathon national championships. It has the right blend of distance, gradient, terrain variety and proximity to both Pretoria and Johannesburg to make it a popular race venue. The riverside singletrack used for the final kilometers is rated by TREAD magazine as “one of the best pieces of singletrack in South Africa”. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting There are five events on offer, catering for all fitness levels: 113km Ultra-marathon, 73km Marathon, 39km Half-marathon, 20km Fun Race and 10km Fun Ride. In the Ultra-marathon any of a number of riders could find themselves contesting the victory. Early entries include current South African marathon champion, Max Knox (Lowveld Tractors/Dirk Louwrens Cycles), last year’s South African champion, Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD), 2014 National Series champion, Nico Bell (Team NAD), 2016 Cape Epic African Jersey winner, Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit), HB Kruger (Team Telkom) and Matt Beers (Red-E/Cannondale). Last year Combrinck won his national title at Van Gaalen, followed home closely by Bell, who says he is fully recovered after being hit by a car while training on his road bike recently. “I like the rocks and gradient at Van Gaalen. At the SA Champs last year though, the racing was quite negative in the first half. Hopefully this year with no national title at stake, it will a fierce contest from early on,” said Nico Bell. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting “I’ve never won at Van Gaalen. It’s a very balanced race route with properly challenging sections. It’s not possible to be in peak form from January to November so you have to choose the races that are important to you. This isn’t one of my primary events, but in order to win the series, every round requires a solid ride. I’ll give it my best shot,” said Knox, the defending Ashburton Investments National MTB Series champion “I have mixed feelings about Van Gaalen,” said Stellenbosch-based Woolcock. In winter it’s a cold, tough and dusty route, but it can also suit me. I did some of my first mountain bike races there so it’s quite special to me too. “I took a short break after Sani2c, but I’ve started to build my training up again so should be in decent condition for Saturday’s race,” added Woolcock. Women’s winner at Van Gaalen last year, Robyn de Groot, will be unable to defend her title on Saturday. The Ascendis Health rider is still recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in a crash last month. Her absence will make for a very open women’s race. Likely favourite is Samantha Sanders (Valencia), who is fresh off winning the women’s titles at the Zuurberg Trek and joBerg2c stage races. Her main competition is sure to come from Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) and Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling). In addition to the Elite men and women’s races, Youth, Junior, Sub-veteran, Veteran, Master and Grandmaster age-groupers will by vying for podium places and valuable series points. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 4, Van Gaalen, Skeerpoort:Friday 10 June 2016 10h00-14h00: Registration & Line Entries – Lynnwood Cyclery, Pretoria 16h00-19h00: Registration & Line Entries – Van Gaalen Cheese Farm, Skeerpoort Saturday 11 June 2016: 06h00-09h00: Registration and late entries 07h15: Riders briefing, leader jerseys handover 07h30: Start Ultra-marathon Pro/Elite 07h35: Start Marathon Ladies A Batch 07h40: Start Ultra-marathon amateur men 07h45: Start Marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 09h00: Start Half-marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 09h50: Start Fun Race A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 10h50: Start Fun Ride all 13h00: Prize Giving For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
  11. The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series visits the North West province for Round 4 this weekend. The venue is Van Gaalen, widely considered the best all-round mountain biking test when it comes to marathon distance racing. Click here to view the article
  12. I found a GoPro Hero 3 while taking part in the marathon race At Van Gaalen this past weekend (06\06\2015). I picked it up at the 35km mark. It contains some footage of a family doing a ride at The Big Red Barn. Here are some screenshots taken from the GoPro. Apologies for invading your privacy a bit but I thought taking some screenshots might help the owner get his GoPro back a bit easier.
  13. In what were two contrasting races, Gawie Combrinck (Team EAI Cycling) and Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) walked away with the National Marathon MTB titles on Saturday in chilly conditions at the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubled up as the South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  14. Team EAI Cycling's Gawie Combrink stole the show when he unexpectedly raced to first place and the overall title at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday © Craig Dutton/pics2go.co.za Although both enjoyed healthy leads, Combrinck did not have the race sewn up until a few kilometres from the finish whilst in contrast De Groot was far too strong for the women’s field. Combrinck was chased hard by the duo of Nico Bell (Team RECM) and Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS) but ultimately had enough in the tank to keep them at bay. The Team EAI Cycling star came into the race under a bit of a cloud and was not setting his expectations too high for the race but once he got going he felt that there was a chance that he could get ahead and stay ahead and from there he never looked back. “It is such an awesome feeling!” the smiling Combrinck mentioned. “It was really unexpected considering I haven’t had the best form over the past few weeks and I was expecting to come here to help out my teammate. “National Champs is always a hard race with guys tending to be a little negative so on one of the downhills I managed to open up a gap and just kept myself out in front which was great!” There was a stage towards the end of the race that Combrinck was being chased hard by a couple of riders but the Mpumalanga resident knew what to expect in the run in to the finish and once he had a slight buffer he knew that if he kept his wheels down he would have his first National Championship crown. With all the work to do going into the final stages of the race RECM Team's Nico Bell had to settle for second place overall at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday © Craig Dutton/pics2go.co.za. “The course is really technical with a lot of single track but as we got closer to the end I knew what to expect and I knew that if I could get over the top of the last big climb with a two minute lead then I would have the race in the bag. “I lost my water bottle at about 70km so I knew that I had to conserve energy so I just made sure that I kept it together coming into the finish and it all worked out for me on the day!” Combrinck added happily. There was drama early in the elite men’s race when Team RECM’s Erik Kleinhans was forced to withdraw from the race whilst his teammate and two-time defending champion James Reid was forced to stop to remove wire from his wheel and had to make up some lost time on the leaders who were flying ahead. That stop proved to be costly for the young rider who was never able to make up enough time to challenge for a podium spot as his team mate Nico Bell took second place whilst the flying Swiss Konny Looser rounded out the podium in third place. With the pressure of trying to retain her title Ascendis Health's Robyn de Groot took it all in her stride as she powered to a hat-trick of National Titles at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday © Craig Dutton/pics2go.co.za. The women’s race was a one horse race as two-time defending champion Robyn de Groot annihilated the rest of the women’s field to cruise to her third consecutive National Championship title. It has been a tough few months for the Ascendis Health rider who has been battling with illness but on Saturday she was in a league of her own and was understandably happy with her performance. “I am just really happy with the way everything went today considering what has happened in the past few months,” an elated De Groot said. “It went really well and after Yolandi de Villiers set such a fast early pace I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to hold on but the downhills came at the perfect times for me after suffering a bit on the uphills so it all just worked out for me.” The cold conditions was another factor that she had to conquer and it did not seem to be too much of an issue as she got further and further into the race and once she was clear just maintaining her advantage and taking in the moment was at the forefront of her mind heading into the finish. It was a very cold start to the morning at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday © Craig Dutton/pics2go.co.za. “Winter got to Johannesburg on Thursday and it was bitterly cold earlier this morning which added a different dimension to the race but I managed it well. “When I got into the last 10km I knew that it was going to get a bit technical so I couldn’t put a wheel wrong there but once I was through there I just tried to enjoy the moment and take in the victory. “I didn’t want to give up my stripes today and I made sure that I put in all the effort early so that it paid off at the end,” she mentioned. The podium in the women’s race was completed by the early leader and Sasol Racing star Yolande de Villiers and rounding out the podium was the young Specialized/Freewheel Cycology rider Candice Neethling. Wearing their National Champions jerseys with pride are Ascendis Health's Robyn de Groot (left) and Team EAI Cycling's Gawie Combrinck at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday © Craig Dutton/pics2go.co.za. There were a number of national championship titles awarded on the day from the junior categories right through to the masters. One of the stand out performances was Frances du Toit who won the Junior Girls title and with that her third national title of the year. For more information visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-marathon-champs and http://www.nationalmtbseries.com/theseries/races/vangaalen. SUMMARY OF RESULTS - 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl Overall Elite Men 1.Gawie Combrinck 04:46.53 2.Nico Bell 04:47.32 3.Konny Looser 04:47.33 4.Lourens Luus 04:48.12 5.Darren Lill 04:49.33 6.Adriaan Louw 04:52.36 7.Johann Rabie 04:54.03 8.Ben Melt Swanepoel 04:58.43 9.Brendon Davids 05:05.00 10.Timothy Hammond 05:07.26 Elite Women 1.Robyn de Groot 03:36.08 2.Yolande de Villiers 03:40.25 3.Candice Neethling 03:42.11 Junior Boys 1.Julian Jessop 2.Reinhard Zellhuber 3.Martien Venter Junior Girls 1.Frankie du Toit 2.Genevieve van Coller 3.Saffron Prinsloo Youth Women 1.Tiffany Keep 2.Anjenel van der Walt 3.Danielle Strydom Youth Men 1.Pieter du Toit 2.Ryan Conradie Sub-Vet Men A 1.Henry Uys 2.Andrew Duvenage 3.Mike Hewan Sub-Vet Men B 1.Brand du Plessis 2.Tom Wetton 3.Chris Botha Sub-Vet Women A 1.Robyn de Groot 2.Samantha Sanders 3.Carla van Huyssteen Grandmaster Men 1.Cobus Slabbert 2.Tim Lotz 3.Gerry de Boer Veteran Men A 1.Warren Price 2.Nic White 3.Johan Labuschagne Veteran Women A 1.Yolandi de Villiers 2.Theresa Ralph 3.Diana Carolin Masters Men A 1.Mike Cronje 2.Jacques Harmse 3.Deon Hanekom Masters Men B 1.Cobus Verster 2.John Parr 3.Steven Rayner Masters Ladies A 1.Bonny Swanepoel 2.Jo Muller 3.Helen Gibbings Masters Ladies B 1.Retha Theunessen 2.Ronel de Buys 3.Llind du Preez
  15. On Saturday the 2015 National Mountain Bike Champions will be crowned in what promises to be a spectacular showdown at the fourth round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series. The event doubles as the South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl and will take place at the Van Gaalen Cheese Farm, Skeerpoort, in the North West Province. Click here to view the article
  16. The event has attracted a record 2200 riders and with nearly all of the top names in the sport represented on the start list, including those that have been racing abroad in the past few weeks, a thrilling contest is expected to unfold. Photo credit: ZoonCronje.com Both defending men and women’s champions are in the rare position to be hunting a hat-trick of wins. Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health), the 2013 and 2014 women’s title holder, has been faced with both injury and illness in recent weeks, but her dominant victory at the tough FNB Magalies Monster marathon less than two weeks ago indicates she’s recovered fully. James Reid (RECM), surprise men’s winner in 2013, defended his title with a maturity beyond his 22 years last year and is a firm favourite for Saturday. He’s already won both the 2015 South African and African Cross-country titles and a national marathon title would complete a rare ‘triple crown’… Interestingly, the last decade has delivered only five different winners in the elite men’s category with Reid claiming two, Kevin Evans (Biogen Volcan) collecting four, Max Knox (Biogen Volcan) one, John Paul Pearton one; and the late Burry Stander with two titles. Evans, who recently announced he will be retiring in September, will not be at Van Gaalen on Saturday, but his Biogen Volcan teammate, Knox, the 2012 national champion, will line up as one of the favourites. Having shown recent good racing form in both Marathon and Cross-country, Knox seems quietly confident: “My preparation has gone well and obviously my ambition is to win. The SA Champs title, along with the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series title, are both goals of mine. This is really a tough course for both the body and the bikes and you can only really control the stuff you can, I am confident in my condition though." Curiously, the top points scorer in the 2015 Ashburton Investments National Series is not South African, and will be racing on Saturday. Swiss racer, Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS) is the current leader of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series after three rounds; and while he can’t be crowned national champion of South Africa, he is expected to make an impression on the race on Saturday. Winner of Round 3 at Clarens, Germany’s Stefan Sahm (Bulls) was scheduled to race on Saturday, but has had to withdraw due to illness. According to Waylon Woolcock, who currently occupies second place in the Ashburton Investments Series, the national champs course suits the Cross-country riders. “The loose surfaces and punchy climbs will suit the Cross-country specialists like James (Reid), Rourke Croeser (Full Dynamix USN) and Max (Knox). Also, a rider like Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling), who is more a power climber,” said Woolcock, who is still without a sponsor. Woolcock is having one of his best seasons yet and, along with former teammate, Darren Lill, will be hoping to add the national title to their CVs as they continue to search for a financial backer. Reigning National Marathon Series champion Nico Bell and his RECM teammate, Erik Kleinhans, have both won standard marathon races in the past 10 days, showing that their form is sharp in their quest for the coveted title. But those wins came in races shorter than 80km in distance. Saturday’s event will be ridden over an ‘Ultra-marathon’ distance of 111km with a total ascent of 1780m. The additional 90-120 minutes of racing is where experience and endurance begin to count. Other podium hopefuls include the Contego Swift pair of Lourens Luus and Adriaan Louw, Melt Swanepoel (Squirt), Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling), Guylin van den Berg (IXU Sport) and Pieter Seyffert (Altech Autopage). There aren’t quite as many title contenders in the women’s race, but it is one of the strongest fields ever assembled. They will race over a distance of 75km with 1100 metres of ascent. Perhaps the most obvious contender for De Groot’s title is 2012 national marathon champion, Cherise Stander. The RECM rider has enjoyed a run of good form both on the road bike and the mountain bike, most notably winning the Sani2c stage race with Swiss teammate Ariane Kleinhans. “It’s very exciting finally be back in a position to compete for the title. I do feel that Robyn (De Groot) and Bianca Haw (Red Bull Specialized) are the obvious favourites, based on their recent results, but I will give it my best shot and hope that I can cope with the technical nature of the course,” said Stander. This will be Haw’s first Elite National Marathon Championships, but the 19-year-old has already shown this year that she’s competitive over the marathon distances, usually more suited to older riders. She recently won the African Cross-country title in Rwanda after having fractured her elbow five weeks ago. The elbow isn’t completely recovered yet, but it’s no longer holding Haw back. “I will only be worrying about the pain the night after the event, I love the technical bits and from what I’ve heard the course might suit me, so I’m going to give it my all,” she said. De Groot confesses that her strategy for Saturday won’t change. “I always aim to be consistent, always stay calm, and at the end of the day, go out and have an enjoyable day on the bike. I have no doubt that the youngsters will give it a full go. I will ride to my strengths and use the experience I have in bike racing to my advantage,” she smiled. Others expected to be in medal contention on Saturday include Yolandi du Toit (Garmin), Candice Neethling (Freewheel Cycology), Carla van Huyssteen (Time Freight), Theresa Ralph (RBS), Jeannie Dreyer (USN HiTech), Lisa Olivier (Time Freight) and Janine Rawlinson (Time Freight). In addition to the Elite men and women’s races, hundreds of Youth, Junior, Sub-veteran, Veteran, Master and Grandmaster age-groupers will by vying for national titles marathon and half-marathon races. Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Round 4, Van Gaalen, Skeerpoort: Saturday 6 June 2015: 06h00-09h00: Registration and late entries 07h00: Riders briefing, leader jerseys handover 07h15: Start Ultra-marathon UCI men 07h25: Start Marathon UCI women 07h55: Start Ultra-marathon amateur men 08h15: Start Marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 09h30: Start Half-marathon A Batch + 5min intervals other batches 09h35: Start Half-marathon Women For more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com.
  17. Both the men’s and women’s defending champions will be present at the race with men’s two-time defending champion James Reid having just returned from a two-week stint in Europe which included racing at the opening two legs of the 2015 UCI MTB World Cup series. With the African Continental Cross Country title to her name Red Bull/Specialized's Bianca Haw could be a force to be reckoned with in her first National MTB Marathon Championships at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June. Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media The Team RECM rider has had a quiet build up to this year’s National Championships as far as marathon racing goes and has not put any pressure on himself to claim that elusive hat-trick of titles. Women’s defending champion Robyn de Groot has, in contrast to her male counterpart, had a disjointed build-up to the event and has been hoping just to be fit for the race however with a good win at the FNB Magalies Monster recently, the Ascendis Health star will be on the start line and searching for another national title. Four-time Marathon National Champion, Kevin Evans (Biogen-Volcan), will not be on the start line on Saturday but his teammate and 2012 Marathon National Champion Max Knox will be sure to keep the pace high to notch a second title to his name. Evans has singled out Knox as the man to beat and the latter has mentioned that winning the South African Marathon National title for a second time is definitely a major goal of his for 2015. Pipped as one of the favourites Biogen/Volcan's Max Knox will be under pressure as he searches for his second National Marathon title at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June. Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media Other names that have been thrown into the mix are the likes of recent Nedbank sani2c champions Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock. The duo was in fine form over the three days of racing from the foothills of Sani Pass to Scottburgh recently and cannot be counted out. 

James Reid’s RECM team mates Nico Bell and Erik Kleinhans are another pair that will be out to prove that they can take on the best in the country and with three riders from the same team, the dynamic at the front of the race should prove interesting. The South African riders will not only have themselves to compete with though as Swiss ace Konny Looser has also added his entry into the mix. Although the Wheeler iXS rider cannot win the South African national title, the man currently leading the 2015 Ashburton Investments National Series standings will be difficult to beat over the 111.28km course. The ladies race will be just as hard-fought with a number of riders vying to pip De Groot for the national title, including Nedbank sani2c champion and former South African Marathon Champion Cherise Stander. Stander also claimed the inaugural KZN Autumn Series road race victories in the Freedom Day Classic and the Hibiscus Coast Cycle Challenge. With a recent victory at the Nedbank sani2c Team RECM's Cherise Stander will be keen to add another National Marathon title to her growing list of achievements at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June. Anthony Grote / Gamplan Media The Team RECM rider has been in fine form in 2015 and will be one of the riders that De Groot is going to have to look out for when the 75km women’s clash gets underway while the second challenger to the title is expected to be Bianca Haw. The young Red Bull/Specialized rider recently claimed the African Continental Cross Country crown in tough conditions in Rwanda and rode to a fifth place at the Nedbank sani2c with Candice Neethling however despite her age and marathon nationals inexperience, the 19 year-old could prove to be a tough opponent on Saturday in her first elite national marathon championships. The trails around the Van Gaalen Cheese Farm will be packed with riders over the weekend as the event draws a record field with a number of different categories fighting it out over varying distances throughout the day. Late entries will be accepted on the day, with an additional nominal fee of R50. This event is not limited to the championship contenders and is open to the public. For more information, including the programme of events, visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-marathon-champs and http://www.nationalmtbseries.com/theseries/races/vangaalen.
  18. With the online pre-entry list at the 2200 rider mark, all the top names in mountain biking in South Africa will make the North West Province their home this weekend as they gear up for the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on Saturday 6 June. Click here to view the article
  19. Even though the lure of a hat-trick of titles is on the line, Reid has just come off a block of two UCI World Cup events in Czech Republic and Germany respectively and so the youngster is not taking himself too seriously as he returns to South Africa to get in some last minute preparation for the marathon event. With two National MTB Marathon titles under his belt Team RECM's James Reid will be back in 2015 to go for the elusive hat-trick of wins at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June. // Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media. "There is definitely no added pressure on me for the SA Champs and I think that that has been part of the reason for my success over the past few years,” the Cape Town resident mentioned. 

 “I don't place marathon racing at the top of my priority list but racing for a national title is always important and it is one of the big three titles that you always want to win. "SA Cross Country Champs, SA Marathon Champs and African Continental Champs are the big three and I have one already so to add another one would be great but I won't put any extra pressure on myself,” he added calmly. With a week to prepare for the endurance version of mountain biking, Reid does not feel that he is at a disadvantage against the riders that have had time to hone their marathon skills. In fact, he feels that he is at a slight advantage due to the refinement of his cross country skills over the past two weeks. "My preparation for the last two years has been exactly the same so the short turn around isn't a problem and I don’t think it will be a disadvantage for me considering I have done it before. "If anything you sharpen up your shape and harness your explosive power at these World Cups and, with the top quality field that I have been up against over the past two weeks, I think that it might actually be an advantage. "I normally do a couple of long rides in the build up to get the conditioning up for riding for a few hours but I think that all of the power is there it is just about applying it at the right time,” he added cautiously. Reid will enter the race with a strong RECM team at his side with the likes of stage race team mates Nico Bell and Erik Kleinhans. The three of them will have to work hard in order to shut down the opposition but Reid appreciates the team dynamic involved in marathon as opposed to cross country racing. 

"Being part of the RECM set-up, I am sure that we will have a plan going into the race. "Both Erik and Nico have the shape and having strength in numbers will definitely help, especially in the latter stages of the race when it gets quite tactical. “I am looking forward to racing with the guys again because cross country isn’t really a team sport but in the marathon and especially the second half of the race when guys start to get tired, being amongst a team will be an advantage,” the defending champion said. 

Despite going into the race in a relaxed frame of mind, Reid still harbours hopes of defending his national title in 2015. With a hat-trick of National MTB Marathon titles on the line Team RECM's James Reid is not putting too much pressure on himself in the build-up to the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June. // Craig Colesky / Gameplan Media. Should the race not go his way on the day though, a victory for the RECM setup is something Reid believes is a very real possibility. "If anyone of us can win it then it is a team victory and we will keep the jersey within the team and that would still be really pleasing,” he concluded profoundly. Online pre-entries for the 2015 SA MTB Marathon Champs powered by Stihl – which doubles up as the fourth round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen – are now closed, but entries will be accepted on the day, with an additional nominal fee of R50. This event is not limited to the championship contenders and is open to the public. For more information, including the programme of events, visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-marathon-champs and http://www.nationalmtbseries.com/theseries/races/vangaalen.
  20. Not many riders can boast three National MTB Championship titles before they reach the age of 23 but Team RECM’s James Reid could be privileged enough if he wins the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl on 6 June in the North West province. Click here to view the article
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