From Tankwa Trek to Crank Lengths

Our Reason for Riding:

Since our last installment, much has happened. We’ve completed the Tankwa Trek!

For the uninitiated, this is a beast of a race. It’s a REAL mountain bike race, with proper single track, climbing, downhills, rocks, boulders, distance and heat! Tankwa Trek is the race that prospective Cape Epic riders choose to see if they are on par to finish the BIG ONE.

Having completed, and struggled, in both the 2018 and 2019 races, I had difficulty to relay to Chantélle just how much this race will take from her. I might’ve gone a little overboard with describing Day 2’s single track, but I guess you have to be ready for what is coming.

Day 1: This stage seems like a “nothing” stage, but don’t be fooled by the short sharp stage. It’s still tough. Heart Rates were racing, as people forget that you now suddenly ride at altitude. We finished well, even though we had to drop down a bunch start.

Tankwa Prologue

Day 2: Chantélle rode like an absolute champion and I was the one complaining that my legs gave way. The climbing was tough but much better than a year ago. The most technical terrain Chantélle has ever ridden on but again, we finished well, and we knew we were halfway. BUT Merino Monster was lying ahead on Day 3.

Day 2

Day 3: We started another bunch back, now in E. We felt it was a bit harsh considering we were riding well, but we soldiered on. The Du Toit’s drop took its toll and four riders broke their clavicles on this. It meant that we had to wait up to 20 minutes at the top of the drop. We eventually could descend and we tried to make up some time. After waterpoint 1, we sat back and let the miles pass to try and get to waterpoint two still fresh enough to take on the Merino Monster.  

And then the Merino arrived. With 10km of climbing 1000 meters, you hit this climb at around 60km into Stage 3. It’s hot, sticky and uncomfortable. Chantélle was strong again and had to wait for me on most of the climb. I climbed better than previous years but was still no match for Chantélle. She guided me right to the top!

Merino Monster Conquered!

At the top, she was ecstatic to have done the climb, but now the descent lay ahead. As hairy as the hill is, as dangerous is the drop. She had one little tumble in the sand, but no harm was done, and we finished the stage loud. Even the microphone man was surprised at how loud Chantélle was! 😊

Day 3 Finish

Day 4: With the new start in an earlier batch, we took our time to get into our groove. We had a fast first 30km and rode into the bunch ahead of us. We felt good.

We climbed well in the next bit and enjoyed the rock formations after the first climb. We kicked into a different gear and could catch quite a few more of Bunch C.

Then the home run started after waterpoint 2. We rode well and as most of the next few kilometers are flat, we bunched up a bit and rode strong. The climbs started taking their toll on me again, and the last long hill I was slow.

Rather slow than stopping, we kept going and finished in a very respectable time.

Tankwa Trek 2020 Bagged!

The Tankwa Trek is not for the faint-hearted and we felt GREAT to have that one in the bag. All around us were riders with ABSA Cape Epic stickers on their bikes – we know we can fight on. We are ready.

Nissan Trailseeker and crank length: Since Chantélle had her cranks shortened, I’ve been researching and thinking I should also change my crank length. Most mountain bikes in ZA are sold with a 175mm crank.

I, in my heart of hearts knew that this had to change. I was strong on flat & slight inclines but fell off the moment climbing started, even against people bigger than me. (I am 177cm and weight 98kg).

We had one of our friends fly in a 165mm crank for Chantélle, and I got to keep her 170mm.  Long story short, my climbing is MUCH better.

We then completed the Nissan Trailseeker Marathon ride over the weekend and the crank made a MASSIVE difference. I can climb better. Yay!

Chantélle finished FIFTH in her age category. We are another step closer to riding the ABSA Cape Epic 2020 as a couple! Wow, it’s getting real!

Our official reason for riding – CANSA Active!

For the cranks: My advice would be – if you are shorter than 180cm, PLEASE look at your crank length.

Multiple sites are addressing the issue, but you will thank me forever! I attach a few of the articles:

Once again, thank you to all our friends, family & colleagues for your support and for your generous donations to our cause for riding – CANSA Active. We are still quite behind in reaching our goal, but have thus far managed to raise R52,586! Woohoo!! You will never know how much this means to us! We send out another plea to all who are able to spare even a small donation of R50, which goes a long way to helping those who have contracted this dreaded disease, to please click on the following link:

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