Friday, 1 December 2017

My 2017 Cycling Achievements

Achievements 2017:

1. Climbing Mt Ventoux (at walking speed but nevertheless) 

I reached the top by myself, emotion wanted to overcome me, but I kept it together, enjoying the moment. I mentally prepared myself before descending my first long descend on my roadbike

2. Bikepacking on Easter Weekend 
(sleeping in a bivvy bag for the 1st time in a grass field (thankfully I didn't have to eat dry camping food Carl threatened me with)

My first night sleeping out in the open without a tent in sight, the highlight was waking up with the view and seeing the sunrise

3. Cycling to Paris for the 4th time, this time a few times in the fast group

Mmm, what were we thinking? Not just a bit out of comfort zone, but so rewarding and exhilarating to ride at such a high speed that there were no time to talk, shout for potholes or complain. It was all about shut up and pedal, but so super cool! 

4. Replacing inner frame routing of cable housing and gear cable! What a faff?! But so chuffed! October 2017

My not so fine moments:
  1. Tightening the bolt on my brake lever so tight that I snapped the bracket and had to replace the brake lever set completely
  2. Pushing my bike down a steep drop, slipping and hurting my knee badly!

Goals for 2018: 

1. To become a better climber for my ability and weight ratio (ok maybe I'll add in to lose a few kgs too)

2. Do a track cycling session at Lee Valley Velodrome

3. Be in the fast group for the full 4 days from London to Paris in September

Sunday, 12 November 2017

How mountain biking can prepare you for your career in the corporate world?

Mountain biking is a challenging and fun sport. I've started mountain biking 9 years ago with some friends from church.

Two weeks ago I was riding with friends around Brookwood and as we were winding our way along the canal over tree roots and fallen leaves the idea sprung that mountain biking can indeed prepare you for the corporate world. 

Observing is important, the terrain constantly changes so you have to look ahead, strategically plan where to brake, which line to choose and where to put your body weight to correct your balance. 

The same as in a corporate environment you need to look ahead into the future plan how you are going to respond with agility to the demands of your workload and adapt the correct behaviours and attitude to keep going. 

Sometimes a drop off might just be too much to handle; it is fine to stop and assess before attempting it again or to find a chicken run. 

At work we can feel overwhelmed with the amount of work we have to do or even feel that we don't have the skills for the task at hand. Stop and assess, decide whether to say no, just get on with it or seek help and expertise to complete the task at hand. 

Mountain biking has a more relaxed approach, so we take breaks at the top of hills; we consider our achievements and admire the view before enjoying the blissfulness of going downhill. 

It's important to reflect on your achievements in the business world, acknowledge the challenges you had to take overcome to succeed and celebrate those successes. 

With anything in life there are always risks involved, crashing is one of them. The quicker you get up, assess the damage you can carry on. My motto is what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. 

At work we are always scared of failing but like my manager always say if you don't try, you can't succeed or fail. Our failings make us more resilient for what might happen in the future and gives us the opportunity to improve a next time. 

Mountain biking allows you to become friends with people from all ages and backgrounds. Riding with people expose you to how they will react in certain situations; whether it is being the first person on the scene of a crash, people with a different ability, those who lack endurance or those who didn’t fuel themselves correctly and reached an energy low. Riding with people from different countries teaches you the importance of being clear when you communicate, they need to know what to expect on the ride and where we are going. 

All of these scenarios prepare us for similar situations in our diverse places of work. You need to apply emotional intelligence to each situation whether it is talking with the person who might not be prepared to follow the longer but correct way to the solution or the person who panic when things don’t go their way. You will have to motivate your colleagues when they are losing their momentum and exercise patience with new starters when they are still trying to find their feet. Often colleagues are from different backgrounds and might not share the same language, we need to be clear when we communicate by trying to simplify the explanation of their roles and responsibilities clearly.

Mountain biking is all about having fun, there is nothing like the thrill of riding your bike fast over swooping and technical trails. The adrenaline rush gives you the energy to climb back up to the top of the next steep hill. 

In your corporate life it is just as important to keep things fun, use the energy and momentum you gain from the things you really enjoy and are good at to take on the challenges that are unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone! 

6 things MTB teach us to keep going in the corporate world:
  1. Observe 
  2. Plan
  3. Analyse risk
  4. Adapt quickly
  5. Communicate
  6. Have fun
Keep going and you will succeed! 

MTB TC vs Corporate TC

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Ex of Exmoor

10 Things about The Ex (not my ex) 

  1. Really cool and friendly people,  including whipper snapper cross country guys and hardcore downhill type racing guys, neither of these groups had any chips on their shoulders 
  2. Equality, not one of the guys made me feel like what are you doing here, we were treated as anyone should be; like we knew how to ride our bikes and guys even asked us about our bikes, they didn't assume we didn't know what we were riding
  3. Tracey Molseley is super cool and a true role model, an example that successful sports personalities are people like you and I who ultimately love riding their bikes
  4. The scenery was breathtaking and trails very varied. It surely wasn't a walk in the park, massive, steep and long climbs, followed by even steeper, technical, wet and rooty singletrack. 
  5. Uplifts were a faff in my opinion, lots of standing around (I am from a XC background though) as you had to take your front wheel off, queue up for the first uplift, get to the top, put your wheel back in. This was my first enduro style event, maybe others didn't mind it.
  6. Toilets should never be very close to where you are eating. It is a basic need, people will walk a mile if they have to. 
  7. Communication during the event could've been better, breakfast, uplift and dinner times should've been announced when we were all together 
  8. 80 riders = 80 chairs for dinner? 
  9. A vintage tea stop, wow! That was awesome and such a highlight of the race
  10. I had the privilege of having my bike washed by Carl from Squirtlube every day - thank you so much! 

People who made the race memorable for me: 

  1. Carl & Terri from Squirtlube for washing my bike and their great company 
  2. Liezl for being my riding partner 
  3. Paul Mansfield who also did the Black Mountains 3 day stage race
  4. Nicky the marshall
  5. Winners of the Mens Open and Hardtail category ; Jono and Fin for being so down to earth, interested and smiley
  6. Paul the photographer for being an all around lovely and encouraging guy
  7. Rory Hitchens for showing subtle care by saying put a jacket on you are going to get cold; you don't want to hang around for too long & then just straightening my saddle when he noticed it was skew. He also chipped in with the organisation and offered his van as another uplift service. 
Quote of the day: 

TC: “I was hoping my knee would be too sore to ride my bike.” About the only time I would rather go to work than ride my bike. 

Tango Twins ready to take on our first Enduro style race

I love the photo, beautiful Exmoor

Enduro style to the top of Dunkery Beacon

Vintage Tea Stop
The Spread
Best tea ever! 
The view towards the bay of Porlock

Cocktails served by a World Champion, Tracy Molseley

Fin the winner of the Hardtail category

It was a privilege to ride with Tracy Molseley, she is a legend!

WATCH a video from the event that Tracy made here!

Support from Terri & Carl from Squirt Cycling Products UK

Styling it out in our all time favourite shirts, Black Mountains 3 Day Stage race with Paul Mansfield. XC whipper snapper and all round lovely guy.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Ride London Classique

On Saturday I decided to brave the rain and watch the women race @RideLondon. It was very tempting to stay at home, but I thought no I will support as I had the opportunity to at The Womens Tour, but didn't quite know about it. 

In all fairness we were not best placed to know what was going on tactically in the race and we completely misjudged the route we took to watch the sprint finish and didn't see it at all, but heard the commentators at least. The organisers made you walk a mile around all the way down to Buckingham Palace, ok they had the layout planned to serve a purpose for the Freecycle and Ride London the next day, but it was very disappointing as I would've loved to see the finish. 

Being able to watch the race on BBC I-Player though I was able to see the perfectly planned attack by @corynrivera that led to victory for her. She planned that perfectly, using the wheels of her teammates then her rival before going all out, keeping her head down,  knowing she had a clear line to the finish line, staying low until she knew she crossed the Finish line in first! 

In the picture is @ashleighcycling our South African star! Listen to the @voxwomencycling podcast for an in depth interview with her and her thoughts on LaCourse and where women cycling currently is. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Throwback to Tour de France 2011

Throwback to the year, 2011 when I got to understand the @letourdefrance for the first time ever after Kerryn gave me a crash course! I've never looked back since. 

This day I did not know what to expect AT ALL! 

We parked further down the mountain than we thought. Someone said its just in the valley. There were literally 2 down hills in the first 5kms, I was on a mountain bike and were literally towed up by @simonozzy and Christiaan. @zanning99 gave me a helpful push later on. 

Getting a tow is great, but also incredibly hard; you have to adjust your cadence to match the power, then you have to maintain it when you are already tired, when you let go you can feel how you literally go backwards, so mentally it is a really tough battle. 

I've never been so happy to climb off my bike. I had the most uncomfortable mens saddle and couldn't speak up about it. Boy was I happy to reach the top. 

I also had a hand injury so even going down was terrifying with thousands of other cyclists. I could hear crashes happening everywhere, it was something I have never experienced before. Wow just writing this has made me realise what a long way I have come as a cyclist especially after climbing up Mt Ventoux my first real mountain climb on a roadbike this year! I ❤️ cycling! 

#TDF #LeTour #Cycling #France 📷 Zane 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Battle on the Beach 2017

This past weekend we had the privilege to be part of Battle on the Beach, the UK's largest cross country mountain bike race in Pembrey Sands. 

I went along with Carl & Terri from Squirtlube and we were responsible for running the bikewash. 

Last year Squirtlube kindly sponsored two entries as prizes for the Tango Cycling Competition, so this year was my second opportunity to ride Battle on the Beach. 

We arrived at 12:00 on the Saturday and set up camp, gazebo, pressure washers, product display, pop-up stands you name it. People dropped in to get there chains lubed, degreased when they were worse for wear and others washed their bikes for race day. 

Squirtlube works best on a degreased chain, so when Carl offers to degrease your chain for you well then that is an offer you don’t resist, you take him up on that as you are investing in the future of your chain. You will NEVER have to degrease your chain again, you just apply Squirtlube and rinse it off with water when you are back from a ride as an added bonus you won’t have dirty hands or calfs from a black oily chain ever again. 

Sunday morning the riders of a Cannondale tandem arrived for lubrication on their chains. Carl offered to degrease their chains as he was busy doing that I started speaking with the lady. I asked how they decided to get into tandem riding on which she replied she had a serious spinal injury and can’t feel her right leg, so riding a tandem is the only way that she and her husband can still ride together. She starts with her left leg in the cleat and then her right leg just follows as they pedal forward. 

My sixth sense told me that there was more to this story and I somehow asked her if she went to the Olympics, she corrected me and said Paralympics, off course. I thought awesome and asked how did it go and was it amazing? She replied non-chalantly oh yes very well thank you, I actually one a gold medal in kayaking by 1.5 inches! Inside of me I thought, “What?????” How incredible here I was speaking so casually to a gold medalist at the Paralympics in Rio. 

Carl completed the degreasing work on the bike and we put Squirtlube on both chains, the tandem was now in top form and race ready! 

Terri and myself were so apprehensive about this race, all the people made us nervous. I hardly rode this year for various reasons and wasn’t coming back from my ‘training camp’ as Carl refers to it in South Africa, instead I’ve gone into this fat and unfit. 

Glorious weather at the start and the whole weekend! 

We were lining up just behind the start of the beach as the beach was already filled up and before we knew it the gun went off and we had to make our way through the lose sand onto the harder sand on the beach. 

I started off well by making it through without unclipping, accomplishment 1. 

The first 6kms are fast paced on the beach and breathtakingly beautiful, before you turn right and head into more grassy dual track! I don’t particularly like that part it feels like you are on a bad kids ride at the funfair, up and down over little bumps. 8km in you turn right onto singletrack, unfortunately this part gets very congested so we had to have an obligatory rest. 

Shortly after this part the first Dutch riders started lapping us followed by more pro riders, they thankfully give you plenty of notice so you have enough time to get out of their way. 

This race is for any type of bike, so you see people on fatbikes, regular mountain bikes and cyclocross bikes, anything goes. 

As a thoroughbred mountainbiker who loves singletrack I find the cyclocross bikes frustrating, it just doesn’t look like they can have any fun what so ever on singletrack. 

Doing a race is such a mental game, I usually try to motivate myself just to get over halfway, once I’m over halfway I’m like a horse who smells home apart from on Sunday my legs went on strike at the 36km mark the same as two weeks before. Everything in the sockets of my hips just freeze up.  

Lap one completed I headed back to the beach, my aim was to get through the sand without stopping. Job done! A lovely man local to Swansea offered me his backwheel on the beach as he was only doing a 2 laps, that was an offer I couldn’t resist. 

On lap 2 I had some recurring issues with my saddle post and had to stop twice to sort it out, on lap 3 though the singletrack was now clear and you were able to ride it all which was fun.

Lap 3 also had a new diversion which was quite nice and fast, well it could’ve been faster if my legs didn’t seize up. My legs were also threatening me with cramps at 500m before the Finish, I just though please not now, just hang in there legs. 

My personal aim was to complete the race in a similar time as last year and according to Strava my average speed was down with one tenth of a kilometer per hour, I’m satisfied with that considering the amount of riding I’ve been doing this year. 

Competing in Battle on the Beach make me realise what great athletes Cross country mountain bikers are. To maintain the speed they do on a technical demanding course along with the fatigue in your legs and your brain’s concentration through singletrack. Battle on the beach is perfect for my riding style, long steady climbs are not really my thing and I’m so grateful that there ain’t any real hills in this race, if there was any well then I’d be in big trouble. 

Back at camp I just needed to sit down which I did. Two guys came round to wash their bikes whilst Carl went to the Finish line for Terri. They were able to use the Bio-Bikewash on their bikes, the bikewash is solvent free and completely bio-degradeable. The new improved nozzle creates a foamspray onto your frame and when water is added dirt just falls off and leaves your bike shiny. I explained the benefits of using Squirtlube to them after drying their chain before then lubing their chains. 

As we were almost finished packing up shop, the tandem riders arrived around the corner of the van. They just wanted to thank Carl for the work he did on their chain. The Paralympian, now identified as Anne Usher also brought her medal along for us to look at. What an experience and honour to hear about her journey not just to Rio but even coming back from  Rio, the events she has had access to including receiving an MBE from Queen Elizabeth on the Friday before the race! Thank you Anne for popping past and sharing about your profiling, training, lifestyle and even doping control. All the best for your training to go to Tokyo, we will be watching you!

With Anne Usher and Carl Hutchings, Anne wanted me to wear her medal, I had to decline as I couldn't wear something I didn't earn! 

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Cape Epic 2017

It doesn't matter how I disappointed I felt at the news that Ironman took over the Cape Epic, I can't but help myself to be totally engrossed and excited for this year's race. 

The women change in combinations in the women's field will bring an exciting race. I would still love Ariane Luthi to take the overall title. She is an incredible rider, down to earth and races her heart out! This year she will be teaming up with Adel Morath from Germany who rode her first epic last year with Sally Bigham. Adel is quite light and got blown over when the helicopter followed them closely last year. Annika Langvad is finishing her studies in Denmark so Ariane and Adel will compete as Team Spur! This will be the first year that Team Spur will have a back-up team in the race. 

Malcolm Lange team owner of Team Ascendis Health flew in the legendary Sabine Spitz who competed for the first time last year to race with Robyn de Groot. De Groot raced with Jennie Stenerhag last year, Jennie had to abandon the race after experiencing an extremely high heartrate which she later needed an operation for. The combination of De Groot and Spitz signals danger for all of the other teams. De Groot has been hungry for victory and Spitz's appetite got whet last year as she finished on the podium last year and got the hang of stage racing towards the end of the week. She also loves the heat which will definitely count in her favour!

Jennie Stennerhag is racing for Meerendal Cape Town Brewing Company with experienced and previous winner, Ester Suss from Switzerland. It will be interesting to see what the two of them can do. 

Team Dorma Kaba features local girl and Olympian Candice Lill and Namibian Vera Adrian. They have been racing together before and did extremely well in the Tankwa Trek which serves as a good training ground for the Epic. Lill also won the Tour of Good Hope road tour two weeks ago. They are in good form and it will be great to see what the all African team will do in this year's race. 

The men's field is back to the Epic battle for 6 Epic victories between Karl Platt and Christoph Sauser. Sauser is such a force to reckon with that even being retired from racing puts him right up there in contention again. Jaroslav Kulhavy asked him to be his partner and Sauser couldn't resist the challenge. My question is, why not? He has won it five times, twice with Jaro and he rides actively with the young guns he coaches and is an allround walking legend. My heart skipped a beat of excitement when I saw the news. 

Manual Fumic will be back racing on their Cannondales with Brazilian, Avancini and I think they might have their eyes on a stage win or 2. 

Jose Hermida, the funniest Spaniard and great character are back after a year's break to race with road cyclist Joaquim Rodriguez from Bahrain Merida (also the new team of Vincenzo Nibali and Louis Meintjes) road team.

Team Scott SRAM brought Nino Schurter current Olympic Champion and rising star Mathias Stirnemann as their lead team. If they can win the overall title we will have to see, but they will surely fight it out! Mathias is in my opinion Nino's strongest team mate for the Epic and that makes me excited. 

Since Erik Kleinhans joined Team Topeak Ergon I really hope there bad luck has run out now and that Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek will get a fair shot at the podium. They have the charasmatic team of Jeremiah Bishop and Erik Kleinhans to support them. 

South Africans Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes are now racing on local designed Pyga bikes and they will sure hope to mix it up in the African Jersey race with Waylon Woolcock who will be teaming up with roadie HB Kruger this year and NAD Pro Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck. 

Further exciting news is that young Jenny Rissveds, Olympic Champion also from Scott SRAM will be racing with legend and team manager Thomas Frischnecht. 

No-one can say that the Epic doesn't have an exciting line-up. 

Good luck to everyone racing! Hang in there and keep on pedalling! 

Follow me on @tangocycling for live tweeting where I can. :-)