Saturday, 21 September 2013

XTERRA England forced me to Swim

I've been following Xterra World Champion Conrad Stoltz' career for the past few years especially since I've started mountain biking. I've never been able to swim properly so never considered doing triathlon as I've always had this fear of water, I think I've been jealous of others that were able to do triathlons.

Well as my dad would say I suffer under peer pressure, I'd like to rephrase that to fear of missing out. As soon as I saw XTERRA is coming to England I've decided that it is the closest I'll ever get to do one... So I sent an e-mail to my friends and got a group together. Many of them entered whilst I was still procrastinating clicking the button!

I was trying to ignore the swim element so kept riding my bike and started running again. Myburgh kept asking me when am I going to start swimming...

My first swimming session was 28 July, I swam 720m, with my head 90% of the time above the water... I left the pool thinking I can seriously drown... I'm surrounded by water and that it would be a bad idea for me to enter.

The next session was the following week and it was just awful. I like to keep my word if I said I am going to do something I AM GOING TO DO IT, so regardless of these horrible two swim sessions I entered...

16 August two weeks after I entered, my friend Stephne and I went to the pool. She is a teacher and her mom was a swimming teacher - I was in good hands!

She literally dragged me up and down in the teaching pool on a kickboard. I think she must've thought how on earth am I going to swim in the triathlon. I was so frustrated, swallowed so much water and started talking before I breathed. We finally found a drill that seemed to help. I had to stand with my back against the wall and blew bubbles through my nose and then started bringing my head to the side for some breath. We left the pool on a more positive note. I updated my Facebook status with the following:

"#XTERRA swim training back to basics last night. What a hack? Too many things to do at once talking NOT one of them, JUST breath, arms AND kick! So boring, but life threatening for me. Must keep going though.
Another good friend is a friend that drags you up and down in the pool on a kickboard! Thank you so much Stephne van Niekerk."

On the Sunday we went back to the pool and started with the same drill. I came up after about ten reps and couldn't believe that I have finally clicked the technique.

"I can report that I can now successfully swim, the penny dropped re the breathing today - so chuffed & grateful. I never thought that there would be a day where I enjoyed swimming more than cycling... BUT today was that day! Bring on XTERRA England, 8 September!"
After that I swam 4 more times of which twice was with a wetsuit. My housemate borrowed her boss' old wetsuit for me. Conrad Stoltz was obviously right when he tweeted to me saying that a wetsuit would make a world of difference - it did!

Thank you XTERRA for forcing me to learn a skill that I've wanted to be able to do all my life. Thank you Stephne van Niekerk for pulling your 32 year old friend up and down in the pool and teaching me how to swim properly! It has been the best birthday gift and I'll always be able to use it! I am far from a confident fast swimmer, but I've overcome my fear for water! If I can learn to swim at this age anyone can!

Meet my coach, Stephné van Niekerk
The beautiful swim start


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

My 1st Triathlon - XTERRA England

It all started way back in June when I was determined that I had enough time to learn how to swim and train for the XTERRA.

I've never been able to swim properly so never considered doing triathlon as I've always had this fear of water, I think I've always been jealous of others that were able to do triathlons.
As soon as I saw XTERRA is coming to England I've decided that it is the closest I'll ever get to do one... So I sent an e-mail to my friends and got a group together. Many of them entered whilst I was still procrastinating clicking the button!
We are coming...
Liezl and I managed to arrive late at the race briefing, not even wearing our wetsuits, needless to say I didn't hear a thing of what was waiting for us.

The Mess
The horn blew and it was as if I froze, rebelling, do I really have to swim now??? The buoy was VERY far in the distance and I felt so sorry for myself. My arms was tired from lugging the wors around for the Chill Zone the day before. I started off head above the water... half-heartedly trying to do the breathing thing. Round the halfway buoy I've lost the field and was on my own apart from the few lifesaving kayaks loitering around me. I had some strong words with myself, "You didn't learn to swim for NOTHING, Steph will be so disappointed if she sees how you are not implementing what she taught you." I also didn't want to be swimming all day long. It was a long 27 minutes of silence, but I did it.

I ran on wobbly legs (I mustv'e been kicking for a change Steph ;)) to T1. Zane & Simon arrived just in time to see me at T1. Myburgh was screaming at me to go faster in T1, but I couldn't get my socks and gloves on properly, it was sticky.

The start of the bike leg was weird. I wasn't used to my legs being like jelly and found it quite frustrating as I couldn't get into a rhythm. The first part was more technical too and I kept thinking, but you can ride technical sections, what is going on? After 3km I seemed to get better. I was frustrated that I was so far back in the field, so decided, the bike is my strongest part and if I wanted to make up some time, then NOW is the time to do it. Inspired by the UCI Mountainbike World Champs the weekend before I just went for it.

Past the half-way mark I was able to see Katy in the distance in her Tango Cycling kit, so it kept me motivated to catch her.

I caught up with some guys and didn't expect to see Stu in front of me, he offered to pull over so I could overtake him. I was just about to pass the guys sitting behind Katy when I heard them swearing, the course went under some trees and the next thing I just saw things flying around and felt a sting on my bottom! I tried to ignore it and kept going at it, although it was quite painful.

I loved the ride, overtaking a few people gave me confidence again and made the memory of the swim short lived.

Back in T2 I noticed blood through my trisuit and saw the sting still in my trisuit. I ran along over the uneven field with my wobble legs through the first forest section. I suddenly noticed a marshal and some people and then came to a sudden STOP. There was a ditch, the width was longer than my length. The marshals told me to jump and I was like, "With my short little legs???" So I jumped inside the ditch and crawled out the other side. They also told me mind the bog which I interpreted wrong and went down right in the middle and sank into the bog up to my knees. It was fun though. The run was much harder than I expected. We had to cross the same ditch on our way back, but this time by using a tree stump, I literally shuffled/crawled over whilst holding on to it.

I've done it!
The last part of the run was through more forest parts, it was so nice to run through it, but it just felt like it was never ending.

Coming down the home straight I heard the voice of Annelize in my head. Just make your steps longer and keep breathing deeply.

The way I got cheered on over the Finish line made me feel as if I won the race,  just the ribbon was missing. :-) It was special - thank you!

Katy & I located the First Aid people. They were only able to offer us ice for our sting injuries, so I stripped off and the lady had to hold the icepack on my bottom. She did say after a while that I can hold it myself to which I just said I know...

The Sprinters
Stu, TC, Jason, Katy, Liezl & Willem
Liezl made it onto the podium in her very first triathlon ever! We are so proud of her.

Pokkeltjie claiming her place on the podium!
Tango Cycling Chill Zone 
This was Gerhard van Niekerks idea, I executed it. #goodmanagingskills
Gerhard braaied wors for us and we all had boerie rolls after our races. It was so nice to have a place to put our stuff and it was so good to have the shelter from the rain.

Gerhard van Niekerk & his brainchild

Pokkeltjie claiming a hug from The Machine
Our other friends did the championship distance and it was fun to watch them compete! The course was well designed so we were able to support them at so many places. The 'internal' competition was strong between, Johan, Oli, Zane, Myburgh and Simon. :-) Lee-Anne is so head strong and despite sufferring from knee ache she soldiered on. Lizzie Doyle was called up by XTERRA and got offered a place at the World Championships in Hawaii in a month's time! Sooooo cool and proud!
Some of the hardcore ones:
Zane, Simon, Lee-Anne, Myburgh & Lizzie

Oli & Johan
You can find more photos of the whole day on the Tango Cycling Facebook page


  • Thank you XTERRA for forcing me to learn a skill that I've wanted to be able to do all my life. Thank you Stephne van Niekerk for pulling your 32 year old friend up and down in the pool and teaching me how to swim properly! It has been the best birthday gift and I'll always be able to use it! I am far from a confident fast swimmer, but I've overcome my fear for water! If I can learn to swim at this age anyone can!
  • Watching the full distance competitors crossing the ditch and the bog
  • I also had the opportunity to meet De Wet & Carl from Squirt and am hoping to speak with them again soon.
  • It was great doing it with friends and being able to support each other was fun and such a blessing
The biggest challenge of doing a triathlon:

You have 3 finish lines... and you are ALL out all the time!

Wear a wetsuit - Conrad Stoltz was obviously right when he tweeted to me saying that a wetsuit would make a world of difference - it did!
What others said:

Katy Hamlin: "I'm chuffed for completing the thing and watching Zane fall in the stream was priceless. ;) The funniest thing was cycling through the hornets nest - reckon we should set up a victim's support group for bikers with bum stings! I definitely wasn't prepared for how off road it was so would be more specific next time."

Liezl van Zyl: "My highlight was being the 3rd lady overall. It was so unexpected but very rewarding and encouraging. And of course the boerierolls afterwards #yesplease. I should probably practise my transitions as a shocking 4 minutes for T1 is just unacceptable. I mean...what did I do? Blowdry my hair? I would definitely do it again. It's a well organised event and it was such a great atmosphere...especially with all the friends being there to support us for the Sprint tri and when we returned the favour by cheering them on in the full tri.

Stuart Hamliton:
My highlight has definitely have to be the swim. For the sprint distance race the water was as smooth as glass. You don’t get better open water swimming conditions than that! Hearing the screams and squeals of the people in front of me getting stung by wasps made me smile! Only funny because I wasn’t stung. (though I did feel guilty!) Would you do it again and why? For sure, it was my first off-road triathlon and it was such great fun. The support was some of the best I have ever experienced, and to be able to support the other athletes in the other race distances was awesome. For next time I would train! One bike ride in 6 months is hardly preparation enough!



XTERRA England to be hosted on 23 - 24 August 2014 at Vachery Estate again.

I'm definitely planning to do it again and hope to see you there! Very happy that XTERRA is offroad otherwise I might've never ever done a triathlon.



Monday, 16 September 2013

Tango Cycling Skills Weekend

1 - 3 November 2013

I have sourced one of the local Surrey Hills mountain bike skills companies, All Biked Up and arranged with them to give us amorning of skills coaching and a coached ride in the afternoon. Richard will tailor the coaching to the needs of our group. Richard also happens to be the Technique Editor for online mountain bike magazine, IMbikemag.

- They promise to teach on a maximum 6:1 ratio to ensure that we all get the attention that we need.
- They will split us into groups according to our current skills and ability.

The Green Escape is a new green friendly location with shepherds huts for us to sleep in. It is near Leith Hill. It looks and sounds absolutely divine and the lady has been so friendly with me, we might be one of the first groups staying there.
One of their green features is to flush the toilet with sawdust instead of water... :-) All very natural!

Weekend Itinerary:

·         Arrive around 7pm
·         Watch Firework Display with locals at Cold Harbour  - this should be spectacular
  • Skills Coaching by All Biked Up
  • Lunch in a local pub (not included in price)
  • Coached Ride by All Biked Up
  • Accommodation at The Green Escape or another local bunkhouse
  • Tango Cycling Meal & Kuier
  • Breakfast
  • A short Tango Cycling Ride using our new acquired skills
  • Return to London
Costs involved:

£100 - Skills coaching and coached ride

£70 - Tango Cycling (Accommodation, Travel, Food & Co-ordination Fee based on minimum of 10 people booking)
Usually we share lifts and split the petrol costs, so if you could let me know if you are happy to drive and how many bikes you can take, I will co-ordinate the transport logistics as well, otherwise we can take the train, but you will have to cycle with a backpack from Dorking to our ‘basecamp.’
I have budgeted quite generously. The maximum price would be £170, but depending on the numbers the costs might be less.

Tango Cycling Service:
  • Liaising with All Biked Up to provide skills coaching and a coached ride.
  • Planning our choice menu
  • Providing a kuier opportunity and getaway from London life
  • Ultimately making cycling more fun for less bygetting a group discount for the coaching if we are a minimum 13 people, by cooking in bulk and sharing lifts
  • Squirt bio-degradeable bikewash products & chain lube available for us to have clean bikes for our next ride
What is included in the food:
  • Tea, coffee, milk, sugar, evening meal and breakfast
What you need to take/bring along:
  • Your own drinks (if not mentioned above) & treats I’ll make my signature cycling trip crunchies
What is expected of you:
  • To help prepare food and clean up afterwards, I’ll provide all the recipes
  • To enjoy the riding, food & company
  • To have
How to book:
  • RSVP at the latest by 10 October 2013 @
  • Your place will be confirmed once you have paid a deposit of £50 into my account. I will provide my banking details once you RSVP'd

Please let me know if you have any other questions. I am looking forward to hear from you and to spend a weekend in my beloved Surrey with you. Feel free to include others if you think it is something that your friend/s would be interested in.

Take care,


Thursday, 12 September 2013

3rd Ladies Ride

On 31 August 2013, 8 of us took on the Surrey Hills again.

We were meant to be 13 again, but a few girls were ill and had to cancel. I was surprised when Jean e-mailed and confirmed that she would be coming along with a friend, I am privileged that she finally joined after I have invited her so many times.

Liezl had some issues with her brakes and Adele had to get pedals changed, so we had a mechanical stop at Head for the Hills in Dorking before we started our ride. Liezl happened to bump into Louis who was wearing his kit and she roped him in to changing her brake pads for her.

Today was also the first day that a few girls were wearing their kit and even if I say so myself, we looked very smart.

Head for the Hills is a great bike shop, nice displays and a few miscellaneous items that you won't necessarily find in other shops. As I was paying for my bits, Simon arrived in his kit with Lizzie & Iain on their roadbikes. My cup was overflowing as everywhere people were wearing their kit and especially as I didn't expect to see them in their kit.

We set of and ended up doing the same route as last time, with a few diversions here and there, we cut out the climb along the White Downs and went up towards the 22 via Dog Poo Dodge , a very appropriate name for this Strava segment. Every single Dorking dog owner takes their dog there for their daily droppings.

We crossed at the Fish Farm at Abinger and climbed across to the Volunteer pub and continued past Holmbury St Mary YHA towards Yoghurt Pots.

I swapped bikes with Natalie who was riding an old mountain bike with no suspension and still shifter gears. This made me grateful for the bike that I now have. It is not all about the gear, but it does make it a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.

Saartjie, Adele & Niki were in their element on Yoghurt Pots and couldn't believe the fun they had!

We went across to Barry Knows Best where we bumped into Rochelle & Rikus. I spotted Rochell in her kit from miles away, I didn't expect to see her there and at first thought that it was Liezl who took a sneaky short cut.

Saartjie, Liezl, Lara, Jean, Natalie, Adele & Niki

A well deserved tea break awaited us at Peaslake Village Store where Trudy was delighted to see her favourite South Africans. I had to go and show off our new kit to her too. I also bumped into a colleague from work, it was a beautiful day and it seems that everyone was making the most of the great weather.

Tango Cycling got so much attention today, I reached an all-time high in handing out business cards and people kept on asking if we are a club and what we are about.  

It was great being a smaller group as we were able to chat whilst we were riding and waiting for each other at certain points.

I've decided that for future rides, a beginners ride will be on the Saturday and an intermediate ride will be on the Sunday and a maximum group size of 8 people.


Saturday Beginners Rides: For someone who is trying out mountain biking for the first time and currently not that fit and perhaps don't own their own mountain bike yet. We will wait and take breaks often and don't go further than 35km maximum.

Sunday Intermediate Rides: For those that have been riding for a while and have basic fitness and feel more confident on technical terrain with less stopping. Distance between 35km - 45km and a bit more climbing.

Next Rides:

5 October - Beginners Ride
6 October - Intermediate Ride

2-3 November - Tango Cycling Skills weekend (cost involved)
Please drop me a line if you would like to join on this weekend. Spaces still available booking early is essential.

Click here if you have trouble viewing the video

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tango Cycling Kit Spotting

On 21 August my Tango Cycling Kit arrived, this was one of the best pre-birthday gifts I could have received. I kept refreshing the UPS page to see when delivery would be due and as I was looking at the page, Claire phoned from reception to let me know that my precious parcel arrived. It was with great excitement that I opened the box. I was so relieved to see that I didn't leave a 'c' out of cycling and that all was ok!
Louis & Saartjie trying to claim it all!

I took my precious goods home in my wheelie suitcase.I was prepared to show the contents of my suitcase to anybody that looked vaguely interested. My chest wanted to explode with pride and excitement. :-)

Saartjie & I baked my Ouma Lina's milktart as a trail as I wanted to bake one for work later in the week. So it was ready to serve as a treat for those who picked up their kit on Wednesday evening along with a complimentary chocolate yazoo.

Liezl arrived a little bit later and the two of us acted as if we were Tango Cycling's Next Top Models, I think we are especially with this perfectly in sync Usain Bolt pose!

Tango Cycling Next Top Models
Chunky Fries on the left & Skinny Fries on the right!

Tango Cooking in It! :)

Big G - Today I'm keeping up with Bontie
Dawie - The Beast

Multi-purpose Kit
TC, Big Ring Paula & Steph
"TC, it's your birthday and we'll ride cause  you want too!!!"
Thank you so much for riding with me on my b-day in the rain - #legends
Louis, Albert, Lara, Jono, Christiaan, Pokkeltjie, Zelda & Simon
3rd Ladies Ride and we bump into so many faces also wearing their kit at Head for the Hills
Lizzie, Adele, Nikie, Louis, Scottish Iain, Liezl, Simon, Lara, Saartjie, Natalie & Jeanpant
Louis roped into fitting Liezl's brakes
Adele & Niki
Saartjie styling in her kit!

Willem one of the last ones to receive his kit! Making me us 'tea' in it #malemodel
The level of service I received from Vitesse was impressive. They were always happy to make any changes that I required and nothing was a chore for them, the bonus was that my order was delivered 10 days before it's due date without any fuss. I am very happy with the quality of the kit especially with the bib shorts.

I have a limited number of men's and ladies tops left, they are available at £45 each and I also have 2 incredibly comfortable and well padded men's bib shorts left for £55 each. Contact me on if you would like to wear your own Tango Cycling kit!

Gerhard van Niekerk: "This is definitely the best pair of cycling tights I own right now!"

David Duffy: "I really like the zip pocket at the back of the top."