October was a busy month for us on the bike, but all in preparation for our main goal – to ride the 2020 Absa Cape Epic for CANSA Active!
One of our favourite events was the Java MTB Challenge at Van Loveren Family Vineyards in Robertson. Not only do we enjoy the MTB route, but it’s a special place for us as some of our closest friends are in Robertson, so we make an entire weekend out of this event, catching up with our nearest and dearest, getting some quality riding in as well as some good wine tasting. We usually do the ‘half marathon’ route on this event, however this year we decided to do the full marathon (63km) as part of our preparation for next year. The route included some of the 2018 Epic trails and ended up being quite technical in sections due to the flooding just weeks before which resulted in many deep-water ruts. We rode strong though and did our friends at Van Loveren proud when I managed to take the 2nd place on the podium for the ‘long’ ride female category. My prize was the newly awarded 2019 Michelangelo Best MCC – Christina MCC Brut – an entire case of it. Now anyone that knows me knows that I am a bubbly fanatic. What an awesome gift! Another proud moment was realising that both the 1st and 2nd podium position riders are Silverback Bike Riders!
The following weekend, we took part in the annual Durbie Dash MTB Challenge, right on our doorstep. Another special event hosted by Durbanville High School as part of their fundraising. We are familiar with the trails as we frequent them most, however we’ve never ridden all the trails consecutively in 1 event so it was bound to be a challenge, considering we can’t ride 20k without climbing 400m in this area. It was great to see many familiar faces as well as the team from our local bike shop. Rudy and I had another great ride and were happy with what we could accomplish. I will definitely be back for this event next year, it’s a great ride for a great cause.
Our main event for October was the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales 3 Day stage race. Rudy has ridden this event 3 times previously, but this would be my first attempt. I was a little apprehensive about this event as I’d ridden some of the easier parts of the trails, but not much of the technical sections. Although I’ve had quite a bit of technical skills training, there’s always a bit of insecurity when attempting a new trail. The overall event is split in 3 parts – Weekend 1 (Chardonnay Event) is for the Ladies Elite Racers; Midweek (Pinotage Event) for the International Tourists / Weekend Warriors / Varsity Sports and lastly Weekend 2 (Shiraz Event) dedicated to the Elite Men’s, Mixed Teams and Exxaro Teams. We were entered into the Midweek Pinotage Event. Of course, it didn’t help that we witnessed some horrid conditions on the 1st weekend with torrential rain fall, resulting in many entrants not to partake on Day 1, causing my apprehension to grow. I was absolutely in awe of my coach Jennie Stenerhag who took the 3rd place on the podium with her partner on this event, considering the treacherous conditions.
As we went to bed on Sunday evening, I was filled with
disappointment as I didn’t think we would start the event on the Monday, as it
hadn’t stopped raining all day. And if we did ride, would it be worth it
considering the conditions? Not sure if
it was bravery or stupidity, but on Monday morning at 7:02am, we took off on
Stage 1 of the Pinotage event. It was
bucketing down, the wind was howling, we were ankle deep in mud, some places we
were knee deep in mud, the trails were sloshy, the portage up the Gantouw pass
was a complete waterfall, we encountered 2 hail storms with 1 of them gushing
into our faces as we were trying to ride and we had more wheel sucking
mud. We slipped and slid most of the
way, at times the front wheel was sucked in by mud causing us to
face-plant! 😊 I lost my brakes just before the last 20km of
the stage due to all the mud and water and was praying that a mechanic would be
able to help me out at the race village and replace my brakes. I slipped on one of the rocks and busted my
knee, so lost my mojo for a little while, but got it back again and got
stronger as the stage went on. In the
end we made it, we got back to the race village in 1 piece and although it was
horrendous, in some way it was fun too.
The only missing element on this stage was snow! We had since found out that 250mm of water
had fallen in 4 days – you can only imagine the state of the trails.
Earlier in the week, a riding friend from Faircape advised
that she was able to move her entry to the last weekend so had accommodation
available in Grabouw which she wasn’t going to use. We were so grateful to be able to sleep in a
warm apartment with feather duvets, boiling hot water to shower in and just to
be able to stay dry until the next morning.
I’m not sure how the riders who stayed in tents at the race village
managed as it continued to rain all night and they were surrounded by water
pools and mud.
Day 2 which is traditionally known as the Play Day was awesome – the sun came out to play too! The guys at SRAM were great and we started off on brand new bikes again. There was so much water around and the trails were mud slides in some places with more wheel sucking mud in other places, but we were getting quite good at balancing whilst slipping and sliding. Some of the single tracks needed to be ridden in the ruts as there was no other way, going under one of the bridges had knee deep water, many riders fell into the dams alongside the bridges but the camaraderie and #gees (spirit) was amazing! Rudy was exceptionally strong today and was completely fearless of sliding around in mud whereas I was a little more cautious than usual.
Day 3 was an absolute blast! It was fast, it was wet and muddy, we slipped a little more, but by this stage we had mastered how to slide on a bike in mud. I felt super strong all the way and set the pace a little higher than Rudy would’ve liked but he held on and together we crossed the finish line in 10th Mixed Team position. We were super happy with our results and it was awesome to see once again that we worked well together on a stage race, just as we had on the Sani2C earlier in the year. I now know that I will have THE best partner for the 2020 Absa Cape Epic as, if you can get through conditions like this and still be smiling together at the end, you can get through anything. We will be back for the inaugural 2020 W2W Switchback!
I was so incredibly happy with my Silverback Stratos SBC which performed like an absolute dream all the way through W2W. And after having the bike serviced at our local bike shop, our mechanic confirmed that the bike wasn’t in bad condition considering what it had been through. Silverback – you make rock solid bikes! Well done. I’m proud to own and ride this bike.
After a week of rest and recuperation, Rudy has decided to join my coach, Jennie Stenerhag for a training program in preparation for the Epic. Jennie has now become OUR coach and we’re super happy to have her guidance to get us through these next few months building up to our ultimate goal.
Besides for the love of riding, our reason for doing all of this is to raise funds for continuous research for cancer. Please visit our donation page to contribute to this worthy cause and if you’re unable to make a donation, please contribute by sharing our story as much as possible. #CANSAActive #ABSACapeEpic2020 #road2theepic #ride4gerald #macrisky #silverbackstratos