Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Finding sweet singletrack on our Farm!

Our farm is on the Garden Route near Mossel Bay and Albertinia about 8km from Gouritzmond and 14km from Vleesbaai. 

I had to go buy some eggs for my mom on our neighbours farm and on the way back I got caught in a thunderstorm which created this beautiful rainbow. The eggs did get home in one piece even though it had a few near misses. 

Waiting for the storm to settle down in my uncle & aunt's garage

Our sheep has walked out some nice singletrack on the side of one of the kloofs/trevines. It is short, but really sweet. 

I'm grateful for installing tubeless tyres after riding the Cape Argus. If if I didn't know that we had cows and sheep I would've thought we are farming with thorns. I could see how the Stans No Tube Sealant was doing its work, it was just going ziittt-ziitt-zitt.

My playground and proof that we don't just have thorns
Sweet Singletrack
View of my cousin and our neighbour's farm
Lookout from the family graveyard

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Waterpoint 2 Interview with TC - ABSA Cape Epic

Why did you decide to volunteer at the ABSA Cape Epic 2013?
I'd like to get into events management and love mountain biking, so thought this will be a good place to get some experience. 

Kitted out - ready for an Epic week
What was your role as volunteer? 
I got assigned as a helper at Water point 2

How many water points were there each day?

There were 3 water points on the route each day and one at the Finish Line.

Where were your water points?
We were mostly on peoples farms ranging from fruit to wine farms standing on grass, sand, tar, gravel and even dry chicken manure the one day. 

How many people worked at your water point?

About 20 people. A mixture of nations and people, young and old from Switzerland, Israel, UK, South African and Netherlands.

What was your responsibility every day? 

Kathy and I were responsible to look after the Woolworths food table every day. It involved cutting fruit, banana cake, fruitcake, energy bars, putting potatoes out and spicing them up with salt. Woolworths is my favourite shop in South Africa, so to be an ambassador for them was a privilege. 

What was your biggest responsibility in the week of the ABSA Cape Epic?

The team decided that I had to navigate Jan (our Waterpoint Manager) and the 60 car convoy (all 3 water points) when we moved race village from Citrusdal to Tulbach. Little did they know that they asked someone who hardly knows the difference between left and right to get them there. Thankfully the directions were very good and we started on the right road out of Citrusdal. :-)

What was it like getting up at 4am every morning?
It was hard getting up and to get going, but every morning the drive to the water points was so spectacular and breathtakingly beautiful. It was one of my highlights! No photo that I tried to take can do it justice.

What food did the riders enjoy the most?
They absolutely loved the Woolworths fruitcake. The first day they ate a lot of cake, but from there onwards they ate a lot more of the fresh fruit on offer as they learnt that they needed 'better' food. Oranges, bananas and apples.
The one guy loved the bones of the sour gums. So I made him a little bag of bones every day and we referred to him as Mr Bones.

Christoph Sauser can eat a big muffin with one bite or shall I say he shoves it into his mouth in one go.
Philip Buys loved the apples...he ate them at the table and stashed them in his back pocket.

What was the weirdest drink combination you saw?
One guy asked for Energade mixed with Coke everyday - STRANGE! Most of the riders were riding on half-coke/half-water. The drinks volunteers pre-mixed coke and water everyday.

What were the riders like when they got to the WP?
You could see straight away what type of ride they were having by just looking in their eyes. Some were smiling, some were staring, some arrived chatting away, some were just NOT THERE. The ones that were NOT THERE usually lost a partner or were really hot and de-hydrated. Jan was brilliant to encourage them with her soft authoritative voice to cool down there core temperatures and telling them what to eat.

What was the weirdest thing you got asked to do by the riders?
There were a few incidents... 
On Stage 1, a guy asked for salt even though I assured him that I've added loads of salt over the potatoes. He took the grinder from me and ground some salt directly in his mouth
We got asked for chamois cream and didn't have any with us, Jan offered her glitter lip gloss, this man took it with a smile and used it. 

Who was the friendliest prorider and amateur rider?

Prorider: Definately Manuel Fumic, no question about it
Amateur rider: Aubrey Symington (he rode with a fracture in his hand) from Woolworths and Songo Fipaza from They always had time to smile, say hello and chat it didn't matter where you saw them.

Man in baggies - Manuel
Photo: Corné le Roux
Why exactly did you like Manuel Fumic so much?
Well... He is down to earth, easy to talk too, loves the sport, had so much fun, was so complimentary to his teammate Marco Fontana who is just as cool. Always time to smile or even speak at water points. They were the ONLY team from ALL the teams including PRO's and AMATEURS that wore baggies and camelbaks and they pulled it off. They put the fun back into our sport. With a top 5 Finish, they have proved that the baggies nor the camelbaks were holding them back. #mtbcrush #tosstoss

What was your most emotional moment during this years race?
Definitely when Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson came past our Water point on the last day. Yolande was riding with a broken collarbone and 3 broken ribs. Catherine was pushing her. Chris aka Grandpa saw my tears and said, that is why I don't go to the finish line. Seeing Cherise and Duane Stander on stage was also quite emotional, the support they received was unbelievable.

Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson - Ladies Winners coming past our WP on the last day

Which brand of bikes did you see the most?
Definitely Spesialized! I'm not sure if I just noticed them because I am also Spesialized, but sure if you were to do a survey, then they would come out top. Also lots of Cannondale Lefty's. Again not sure if I noticed them because the Fumic & Fontana are riding or the fact that I'm not a fan of a-symmetry. :)

What did you like the most in your own lunchpack?
The chocolate milkshake obviously. :-) And the biltong the one day.
How was staying in a tent for 8-days?
Well it was luxury that we didn't have to pitch it ourselves. They were hot, so without the chill zones we would've been fried in the afternoons. The mattress was comfortable. I was so tired in the evening that I took no notice of people snoring or making other noises around me.

Wellington Community Swimming Pool
What was the best value for money you spent over the course of the 8-days?
We didn't spend much money in the week as we had everything we needed, we only bought drinks in the afternoon at the race village, but when we got back from Stage 5 near Wellington we paid R8.20 to swim in the community swimming pool, it was the best money I spent all week, it was so hot that your tent was a no-go zone.

Which race village was your favourite and why?
Wellington, everything was near each other and you didn't have to walk back on yourself all the time. It was also almost being back in civilisation, bigger shops, more people around.

A few of your highlights?
1. At the end of Stage 1 we stopped at the 5km from the Finish mark to support some riders. There were big men getting tears in their eyes seeing us so close to finish when they have been slogging away through sand all day. Julia the British teacher rationed each rider with two sweeties whilst Kathy, Jan and myself made Mexican waves and some noise. 
2. Luis Enrique did a boogie in front of our table the one day, I didn't know who he was until Daniel from Woolworths was shock horrified that I didn't know who he was and told me that he was a big footballer. I even asked him how you pronounce his name and where he is from. #blond He continued to give us a boogie every day
3. A Dutch rider called me forward every day to claim a half-way hug.

Julia handing out sweeties
TC, Kathy and Jan making some noise

What is your funniest volunteer memory?
We were waiting for the truck to be in place before we had to get out of the people carrier on Schalk Burger's farm on Stage 5, just hearing that we are not allowed to drive on the grass and had to be careful on the 300 year old slave wall when Johan Serdyn aka Kaptein Serdyn jumped in behind the wheel to move our people carrier. Kathy's eyes got huge like saucers, Dieter piped up Johan what are you doing? Johan gave no reply and just turned the key in the car. He tried to move the car, but the car wasn't moving, the wheels just kept spinning around, we all shouted at him that he should put the handbrake down as we were just thinking we are NOT allowed to drive on the grass and this slave wall might come to its end today... Eventually we went forward and Johan admitted that he didn't know it was an automatic car, he stepped down on the brake as if it was the clutch and the petrol at the same time. :-)

What was your favourite PRO moment?
Speaking to Manual Fumic a few times and getting a smile from no other than Nino Schurter.

Who was the funniest rider?
Raymond!!! He broke his carbon frame during the Prologue whilst doing a jump showing off in front of the spectators. He ended up pushing a stick into the frame to try and make it to the finish line, but ended up running 12km. He is so friendly, entertaining and energetic. He features in one of the Prologue videos.

Kathy, Nicole and myself with Colin Charvis and Marius Hurter
Any memorable interviews?

Yes, there were 3. Dan Nicholl interviewed Colin Charvis (former Welsh Rugby Captain). He asked if he learnt any Afrikaans to which Colin said, yes. Marius Hurter taught me that lekker means downhill and K*k = sand.
The other one was Jose Hermida giving his race reports every night. He is so funny and expressive.
And Jaroslav Kulhavy looking surprised when they asked him what he would say to riders who takes 10 hours to finish a stage. He looked like he couldn't understand that some people took that long to finish a stage.

Were you on TV?
I belief so, on the last day I gave the Supersport man something to eat, I said to him, I'll feed you as long as you make sure I am on TV today. :-) My friends who watched the live stream in London text to say they saw me, it must've been up close and personal as they even saw my earrings! #epicearrings

Were you surprised by anything? 
Yes, certainly, I thought I was the only person so excited to volunteer, but realised that we were all so excited to be there.  

Will you volunteer again?
Definitely, my friends already threatened that they are not listening to my sulking next year if I'm not there.

Will you ride the ABSA Cape Epic yourself?
Initially I thought no, and then I saw the 2 staircases coming through the Manor House at Meerendal and the live cameras and thought definitely NOT. BUT I'm starting to think about it now, the seed might be growing... watch this space.

Riders coming through the Manor House down 2 flighs of stairs

Final Observations?

The entry fee to this race is big, but if you look at the logistics and everything that has to come together I would say it is reasonable. There are SOOOO many things that has to come together for this to be a success, it is not just ultimately the route or riders that makes it. So you have to ask yourself if you are willing to pay that for 8-days. It is an amazing event and it was great being part of the EPIC family.
Some of the South Africans really have a chip on their shoulder, although things changed when the race got going and they were suffering. The Europeans were so friendly and grateful.

It was great having the opportunity to speak to pro riders, celebrities, riders, mechanics, media, volunteers, trail builders, sponsors and medics, everybody was in one place. I met wonderful people and loved every moment of my epic adventure 2013.

Great footage on the ABSA Cape Epic Channel on youtube
Absa Cape Epic Channel

We are done with Water point 2 for 2013!

Day in the Life of a Volunteer @ the ABSA Cape Epic with photos

4am'ish - Wake-up
4:30 - 5:00 - Breakfast in Crew Tent
5am - Get into the Convoy and depart
15 cars in each Convoy
  • People carriers with volunteers
  • Watertruck - Most important
  • Volunteer cars
  • Branding Bakkie
  • Toilets - 2nd most important bakkie
  • Lubies - Motorex
  • Medics
  • Oakley
  • Mechanics
Arrive at WP
Wait for truck to get in place
Unload truck
Set-up watersnake
Put up Gazebo's & tables
Cut Fruit!!! 
Mix Energade
Set-up Woolworths stand, fill boxes with food
Put food in the same order as day before so riders know where to find it
Sunblock Check
Open Waterpoint 2
1st Riders come through
Keep filling boxes and cutting fruit and bananas
Encourage riders
Feed riders
Sweepers Arrived
Pack up
Load truck
Pick-up rubbish
Eat lunch
2:30ish - Drive back to Race Village
3:30ish sometimes earlier - Arrive at Race Village
Chill in Chill Zone
Check out Finish line
6pm - Eat in Dining Room with Riders
7pm - Load truck
9pm - Shower and Sleep

Somebody referred to working at a waterpoint is almost as if to move house, the only difference is, you do it 4 times each day for 8 days in a row.

EPIC Weather

Woolworths Fruitcake, Banana Muffins and Low GI Bars

I love FRUIT - NOT!
4am is early for those Energade people...
Woolies Sweeties
Woolworths Ready - Stage 1 - Citrusdal

Stage 6 - Bien Donne, Paarl - Waterpoint 2 
TC, Kathy & Jan
Stage 4 - Theuniskraal
Opening Waterpoint 2!!
The Epic Sweepers - Go LIESBET
An Epic View on Stage 7
With Gysbert, a real Dutchman, Nicole and Amanda
Fooling around with the Medics - Nurse TC
The lovely Jan Brown and her husband Guy
Finish - Lourensford
The Swiss Ladies - M&M&M
Don't ask, two of them are called Mirjam & the other Maya, but they all responded to M for me. :)
Dieter and his family
We see, speak, hear or do NO EVIL!
Topping up food with 2 ex-riders that helped us as volunteers, Shawn and Graham
Race Village in Stellenbosch
First time back in die BOS after 10 years after university
Mr Bones
Daniel from Woolworths with his WP2 Woolies Ladies!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Around the World Party - ABSA Cape Epic Party

Elisca and I met some of the other volunteers that were going to work at Waterpoint 2 just by randomly finding a spot to sit out of the rain Ferryman's Restaurant & Bar, V&A WaterfrontI became good friends with Jan, Kathy and Amanda over the course of the Epic. 

Dolla & myself

The closest I got to anyones calves. :)
With our friend, British Ray Hince.

On our way to meet Ray whilst he was chatting to Kevin Vermaak, Elisca almost took Joel Stransky out without knowing who he was.
Lourensford's best wine

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Unofficial World Cup - Kayamandi

Christiaan posted this on my Facebook wall, I already saw it and thought how cool it would be to watch the race. It gave me that extra confidence to make a plan to go especially as it would mean less time with the family.

Ray Hince that will also be working on Waterpoint 2 happened to be in Stellenbosch last night, so I text him and asked him along. His surprise was big when he realised what he was going to attend as when I asked him along to the Unofficial World Cup he thought the mountain bikers were going to play football against each other.

Kayamandi is a township in Stellenbosch and this is where the charity that Songo Fipaza started is located. is also the charity that Christoph Sauser & Burry Stander road for in the ABSA Cape Epic. Specialized is heavily involved and provide equipment for the kids.

Christoph Sauser & hosted this event for the first time last year.

It is basically a XC race in Kayamandi, with a world class line-up also giving local kids the opportunity to race with them on the same course at the same time. They started with 2 laps around the football field, 30 minutes + 3 laps out on the course through the township, between houses, down stairs etc.

The line-up:

Rainbow striped, Nino Schurter, World Champion 2012
Note that all 3 Olympic medallists was present. Nino Schurter didn't race, but he was there kitted in his white world colors. I had the cheek to ask him why he is not racing, to which he answered he only landed 2 hours ago. It was still nice to look at him, I mean see him there. :)

Jaroslav Kulhavy, Christoph Sauser, Manuel Fumic, Philip Buys
Photo: Ray Hince
Manuel Fumic, Christoph Sauser, Jaroslav Kulhavy, Marco Fontana, Florian Vogel
Conrad welcomed by Songo, founder of

A lot of the young South African stars was also competing along with the Caveman, Conrad Stoltz. I finally had the opportunity to see him race. He was trying out a new bike with  the new grip shift technology gears. His saddle unfortunately broke during the race and he didn't complete the race.  

With the Cave couple, (Conrad & Liezl Stoltz) and Benno Willett
Photo: Ray Hince
Jaroslav Kulhavy was leading most of the race with Florian Vogel (Nino Schurter's teammate) blowing in his neck. Yamahato, Fontana & Sauser on their heels. On the last lap Kohey broke away and before we knew it, it was the 3 Songo boys taking 1, 2, 3. Sauser won! Vogel & Fontana 4th & 5th.

Winner Christoph Sauser!
Photo: Ray Hince

I ended up chatting with Manuel Fumic afterwards, he will be partnering Marco Fontana in the Epic and they are riding for Cannondale. Fontana came 3rd in the Olympics even after his saddle came off 1.5km from the Finish. Manuel is so down to earth and so excited about the Epic. He was saying that people told him last night would be a fun race, but that it was actually hard. I'm not a Cannondale fan, purely because of their a-symmetry Lefty forks, but I'd like to re-phrase Lance's quote, "It is not about the bike, it is about the person on the bike." #mountainbikecrush #itmustbethebaggies

Kohey Yamamato and Marco Fontana
Photo: Ray Hince

We also spoke to another guy on the Cannondale team, Jerome Clementz, he specializes in Enduro racing and are just in South Africa for some filming at the moment. He won the Trans Provence endurance race in 2011 and came 3rd in 2012.
Candice Neethling, South Africa's Women's XC Olympian and Cherise Stander was amongst the spectators too.

Ray taught me how to speak to people, before I knew what was happening he asked some of the pros to pose for photos with me. Here we are with Alban Lakata. 

Ray Hince, TC and Alban Lakata
With Olympic Gold Medallist, Jaroslav Kulhavy
Photo: Ray Hince

Highlights & Observations:

1. Meeting up with the Cavecouple again. Conrad & his lovely wife Liezl
2. Speaking with Manuel Fumic
3. Seeing Nino Schurter
4. Florian Vogel also likes chocolate milk,  he drinks the wrong brand though... should change to Chocolate Sterristumpie
5. These guys are all smaller than what they look on tv or photos
6. Ray was on a mission to get me on photos with these guys... watch this space & make space for my head, I was completely starstruck!
7. Spectator friendly course, reminded me of the Olympic course
8. An absolute privilege to watch this in SA - the perfect setting
9. Mountainbiking transforming the kids and the community
10. Mountainbikers are down to earth!!!

See link below for photos by Gary Perkin, well-known mountainbike photographer

Homework for those who don't know who I am talking about

My next stop is mountainbiking for the first time in South Africa tomorrow afternoon with Beth Cartledge. Jip, belief it or not, it is true. Followed by Around the World Party tomorrow night with Elisca & ABSA Cape Epic people at the Waterfront in Cape Town.