Full Sus July 2020

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J U LY 2020 VO L 65







Your editor and I – or is that my editor(?) go way back, to a time when chest and facial hair was the second most desirable thing for a teenage boy. We lost touch for a few decades but then this wonderful sport of ours reconnected us, as I am sure it has for many of you out there. About 18 months or so ago, we were attending the same industry function showcasing the latest and greatest gravel bike. High school insults were hurled across a crowded room and we promptly retired to a conveniently situated pub across the road for a Guinness or dozen. I shall not bore you with those details suffice to inform that it was after the eleventy’th Guinness that our illustrious editor started his campaign to have me write, in my own inimitable style and humour, a series of articles for Full Sus Magazine. Here goes nothing!

he Time of Corona. Yes, life will be different from now. During past difficult times, the people oft turned to their leaders. One such leader was Sir Winston Churchill. He was a bit of a cantankerous old bastard but in difficult times he “got things done”. Amongst his many talents was a mastery of the English language, possibly best illustrated by his very long list of memorable quotes. One such quote that carries so much relevance to our Time of Corona is “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Stop and think about that for a moment or two. It’s a pretty good turn of phrase isn’t it? There should be no argument that our country’s economy is in a state of crisis. Now, without trying to get too political on this one (otherwise this article would probably be redacted) the power to do something about it lies in our hands. Yes, our hands. The regular Joes and Janes of our country, owners of small businesses, wage and salary earners, the house husbands and wives of our country. How do we assist our economy? By changing our buying patterns to support South African companies, South African mom & pop stores, the local greengrocer, the local


independent pharmacist, the local independent hardware store. Let’s face it, Bezos and Amazon.com sure as hell don’t need any more of our hard earned SA Rands. Your local bike shop surely does, not the mega multinationals siphoning Rands offshore at the click of a keyboard button. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what will keep the passion of our sport alive and kicking in South Africa. I was once asked many years ago by Bicycle Magazine to answer a question for newcomers to our sport on how to purchase their first bicycle. Understand, I had not been trading for too long but I was and still am immensely proud of my bike shop. It does after all, have my name above the door! Therein lies a heavy clue on what to expect from an Independent

Bike Dealer aka “LBS”, if it has the owners name in it, chances are you’ll meet a passionate cyclist who wants nothing more than to see more bums on bikes. The answer I gave for that article was: “There is quite possibly more than one bicycle shop in your neighbourhood. Do not bog yourself down in bicycle brand or whether this bike has an XT rear mech and that one a GX but rather have a look around the shop. Soak up its

atmosphere, chat to the owner or shop staff, definitely chat to another client. Does the character of that store suit you? Could this be your home away from home because let’s face it, you WILL sooner or later want to shoot the breeze about a particular rock on a certain trail or how vicious is that climb yet the descent making it so worthwhile. The LBS that has an owner and staff who ride trail will know that rock and that climb. Then choose a bike from what they are able to offer you. You’ll soon find out if they also know how to swing a spanner. Giant Bicycles South Africa will probably kill me for this but there really isn’t such a thing as a truly bad bike anymore; if there was, the brand wouldn’t survive. Choose your LBS and support their range of product.” How does all that fit into the subject title of this piece you may now be asking? Well, the LBS has its work cut out for it; that is for sure. I truly believe we are entering, no, have entered a time where we must all help each other to survive and thereby prosper. South Africans actually have a good track record of helping each other outside of government structures and programmes – we’ve had to! Now is a time to encourage your non cycling friends and family to purchase a bicycle. Not necessarily a R40k race machine or R160k+ from some brands (although that would put a smile on any bike shop owner’s face). No, we need to start at neighbourhood type riding. We need to become a nation of cyclists. We have all seen how Mother Nature very quickly reclaimed her space and how quickly she started the process of healing. Look at the

clean waters of Venice, wild animals strolling through suburbia, the lack of smog and pollution across many of the world’s major cities. The Time of Corona accomplished in a very short time what the Green Warriors could not, so now it is up to us to carry the good fight and NOT go back to roaring 2kms down the road in our SUV for the bread and milk at the local café but to hop on a recreational bike, hopefully with a basket on the front or carrier at the back and cycle down to that local store. How cool is it in the mornings between 06h00 and 09h00 to see your neighbourhood’s little kids, sporting huge grins, with mum or dad rolling along at a pedestrian pace on their bicycles without fear of the SUV or 4x4 roaring past at great speed? We are also greeting each other again. This is taking advantage of a crisis in a humane manner in which we are all capable. Communicate with your local authorities to have them redesign suburban roads, town and city streets into cycle friendly highways. A relatively simple example would be to turn a two-way, one lane each way street into a one way street for motorized traffic but two way for bicycles. Get creative but pressurize your local authorities into action. Now is the time to do it. The challenge for your Local Bike Shop is to ensure they have a range of products to cater for this new age of cycling lifestyle that you, yes you, need to encourage to all in this Time of Corona. Your LBS has (at the time of writing) enjoyed, sic, ZERO income for six weeks. During that six week period they have still had all the overheads associated with

normal business. Rent, salaries and wages (although I would imagine most LBS owners only paid staff, not themselves) creditors for stock ordered but not able to sell, insurance, medical aid, VAT and UIF, the list goes on. If your LBS doesn’t have what you want on his or her shop floor the moment trade re-opens, consider cutting them some slack, express your desire to support that brick and mortar establishment by asking them if they are able to order it in for you. Offer to pay a deposit, or even better prepay in full. Chances are they will need to pay COD and extra courier costs to have that item delivered for you, certainly for the initial few months until cash flow for suppliers and bike shops improves. If your LBS is a little prickly regarding the social distancing measures and health hygiene measures they are having to employ for your safety, forgive them. They will be dealing with the public and the great array of personalities we have in our sport on a person by person basis – something staff at supermarkets will not have to deal with to the same extent. We need to find our sense of community to exit this Time of Corona stronger, healthier and with vigour. Let’s do this together. What better way than for all to adopt the bicycle as the favoured vehicle of transport and leisure? Support your LBS, you may not realise just how much you need them but rest assured, they know EXACTLY how much they need you. Make it your Corona exit strategy to encourage all South Africans to ride a bicycle. WILLIAM KEITH, local bike shop owner since ‘05. A bicyclist of many years and (in)famous builder of wheels. Extremely passionate about putting bums on bikes as well as a firm believer in commuter bicycle networks. A proud father and husband with the philosophy that singlespeeding keeps life as it should be.





o I have to thank Dee, who handles our PR and Promotions for introducing me to the phrase “Coronacoaster”. It really is an apt description of the chaos that the world has been thrown into and the crazy ride that’s gone along with it. The overload of information and difference in opinions, sentiment and approaches which includes the medical fraternity who seem to be divided and polarized political leaders who frankly seem clueless at times. Our country’s leaders, while starting with aplomb, have certainly shown no clear and decisive path based on medical, professional and economic advice. One thing is really clear and that is that common sense does not seem to be high on the agenda (this is definitely not reserved for politicians alone) – we have all been left scratching our heads after some of the decisions. I started writing this with a beanie on, not just because it is freezing but also because my hair hasn’t been this long since I was a student, oh

and I need to see! Finally I have to admit to initially scouring my social media platforms, watching the news most of the day and engaging in robust debates with friends and family. Now - not so much. The constant negativity, the mess the world seems to be in, the aggression and cataclysmic fallout from the worldwide lockdowns and of course, the conspiracy theories! Thank goodness for my bike! Thank goodness for (the now) unrestricted exercise times and being able to bump into “perfect strangers” for rides outside. It is amazing the difference being able to exercise makes to our psyche and general well-being, being able to see other people even if at a distance and looking like a ninja! Life is taking on a vestige of normality – please don’t substitute my words for “being irresponsible” – and we are taking stock of the aftermath; it’s going to be devastating. One ray of light has been the cycle industry, with sales purported to be flying. Perhaps this was the wakeup call we needed to prove to ourselves that not only is cycling good for you, a fun everyday activity, but it also contributes massively to the fight

against global warming, pollution as well as providing a clean, cheap and accessible commuting alternative. I truly hope that we all get through this global pandemic, not just with our health but also as unscathed economically as possible. There is undoubtedly going to be major fallout and I am sure that together we can ensure we rebuild and hopefully learn, not just about ourselves and what we value, but also about how things are done, how we can improve and how we all can contribute to a better long-term situation. It’s like the stray rock in the singletrack or on your favourite trail, it’s not going to move itself and has the potential to hurt someone, so stop and move it. If we all did this when we came across these obstacles we’d always have the best trails in the world! Keep safe! See you on the trails


36One 2018 Photo by: Oak Pics

FEATURES 02 COVER FEATURE: New contributor William Keith gives a first hand account of your LBS and the Corona effect.

27 GOING NOWHERE - FAST: Sam Robertson looks at his indoor riding experience through lockdown..


THE ED waxes lyrical


NEWS: The local #MTB skinny

36 TRAILS – VALLEY OF DREAMS: Regular writer Jacques Marais explores the new trail network in the beautiful Stanford Valley

11 RENDEZVOUS WITH THE PROS. Frans Le Roux finds out what the Pros have been up to.



32 F-STOP: Oak Pics show off some amazing pics and give you the backstory!

GEAR: Safety, health, recovery & storage

23 COME RIDE WITH ME - CITY OF GOLD: We welcome Timo Cooper to the team. He introduces his new series with a monster ride in Egoli. 26 CUTTING EDGE – the bike review: Ray Cox tests and reviews the brand new Cannondale SCALPEL 3


DH CHAMP - STEF GARLICKI : Tests his LD commitment.


THE COACH - BEN CAPOSTAGNO: Sticking to the basics.

44 EVENT CALENDAR: Make sure you know if it’s still happening!





As of from 1 July 2020, Schwalbe will be distributed throughout Southern Africa by iKhambi Distribution. The renowned tyre and accessories brand has been part of the Stage N9NE stable in South Africa for the past 10 years and the move comes on the back of a long search by Stage N9NE for a strategic distribution partner in the region. “This forms part of a strategic plan for Stage N9NE to focus on our growing export market, so it has been a coming for some time.” commented Vincent Durand, Managing Director of Stage N9NE. “After an extensive search, in Ikhambi we have handpicked partners that share the same value system as our and are very happy to leave the brand in better hands than ours looking to the future in the region,” he said. “We are honored to be entrusted by Stage N9NE and Schwalbe to take over the distribution baton for this renowned brand in Southern Africa,” added Christian van Zyl, Managing director of iKhambi Distribution. According to Van Zyl, the heritage and passion that grew Schwalbe to where it is today resonates strongly with iKhambi’s team and business philosophy. “Our business is focused on offering more choice to our customers and greater value in our basket of premium brands,” he said. For more information about Schwalbe: Dries Schoombee, Sales Manager 087 654 1940 or visit www.ikhambi.co.za


The Espada Jersey is inspired by the art of the master swordsman, precision and power focused at a single point. Sleek, streamlined and aerodynamic this jersey is made to let you cut through the air like a sharp blade. A new addition to our Apex Series Jerseys the defining feature of the Espada Flyweight jersey is the Nanotech fabric used to create it. This Italian Lycra is ultra lightweight and highly breathable to compliment the skin tight fit. The Espada uses our flyweight fit with the sleeves set in to ensure maximum comfort in the racing position. The longer length sleeves ensure the fit stays snug and secure. The Polygiene mesh side panels allow for improved airflow through the jersey while you ride, while the fabric’s antibacterial properties reduce odours from sweat buildup in these areas. Our Anti Bounce Stabilisation system means the back pockets can be loaded up without your comfort being affected. The back pockets now also contain a waterproof, invisible zipper pocket for storing valuables. The Espada also features standard Pro Fit features such as the broad 360 degree wide elastic waist, with silicon grippers and electronic cable routing for headphones. https://ciovita.co.za/

Photo Credit: Spur Schools Mountain Bike League




It is with great disappointment that the Spur Schools MTB league has announced the cancellation of the 2020 season. After consultation with title sponsors, Spur Steak Ranches and the governing body Schools Cycling South Africa (SCSA) a unanimous decision was taken to cancel the season with the safety of all taking priority. “After 11 successful seasons, it is disappointing to cancel the 2020 season. We support the decision taken; everyone at Spur urges our extended League family to stay safe during these unprecedented times. We are taking a conservative approach to the league in the interest of safety”. - Sacha Du Plessis, Chief Marketing Office, Spur Collection “As Schools reopened in June with a phased-in approach, new ways of behavior and movement around Covid-19 became the norm. Feedback across the country from respective Schools Cycling Chairpersons was that Schools’ main focus is now on recovering the academic year as schools sports are not yet allowed under the current regulations. Schools Cycling South Africa (SCSA) will continue to present our Schools Cycling family with education and development programmes – please follow us on social media for updates. May your hearts continue to be brave, your minds fierce and your spirits free! Keep practicing and pedalling positively. Until we see you again” - Annelize Ziehl-Owens, President SCSA The League will continue to be active on social media so keep an eye out https://www.facebook.com/SpurMTBLeague


The new cutting edge.

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“RENDEZVOUS” WITH THE PRO’S Weekend warriors and pro’s alike were all forced to rethink their riding regime due to the current global Covid-19 pandemic. Former Full Sus MTB editor Frans le Roux caught up with some of our country’s best riders to discover what they’ve been up to during lockdown.

MATT BEERS What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD? In the beginning stages of the heavy lockdown I spent all my time on the indoor trainer and raced a lot of Zwift races which kept my motivation high as it brings in that “racing aspect”. My motivation is to stay as fit as possible because racing could start at any time, we just don’t know.


What have you missed the most? In the beginning of lockdown, I obviously missed the freedom of riding outside whenever I wanted to, but we are less restricted now. I am happy to be able to ride all day now. I miss all the excitement of racing and not all the MTB trails are open at the moment, so we can’t train anywhere right now.

How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD? I ride with a buff and it is really hard to breathe with a cloth mask (especially when doing intervals). It depends on the circumstances. We all need to still be responsible in scenarios where we can spread the virus.

What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed? I would love to go on a road trip and leave the city for a bit.

What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD I’ve learnt to overcome the anxiety of “cabin fever” and realised that I actually can survive without being outside all the time. I think the cycling sponsorship/ business model needs to adjust in ways that sponsors can find value in riders without it all being purely performance based. In that way sponsors can justify supporting you when racing can’t happen.

Send us your favourite riding pic of yourself ever – backstory, why? It was amazing to be able to race at the highest level for two months of my life on one of the biggest world tour teams in cycling (Team UAE Emirates). On the international road racing scene, something that I didn’t think I would ever do.

Have you worked out a favourite three hour window route? During level 4 I mostly went up Ou Kaapse Weg and all the other iconic climbs in my area. That was my main pattern of movement.

What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why? Obviously Epic was a disappointment as that was the main goal for the year. The 100-miler series was something I was looking forward to as I was keen to do my first gravel bike race in SA.

Sani2c was also postponed and I was keen for that, but at least we should be able to race it in December again.

What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most? -SA Marathon Champs is important as I would really like that title. - Wines2Whales: It will be cool to do the reverse route this year, so I am looking forward to it (and hopefully defend my title). Unfortunately, Team NAD is no longer a team and I am without a contract from July, but hopefully I get sponsors to get me through the rest of the year, so I can race whatever events happen at this point.

Matt leading his UAE Emirates team out.

ARIANE LÜTHI What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD? On the bike I’ve been working on my weaknesses and have done some race simulations on a XC lap to make the intense training a bit more fun. The spare time allowed me to focus on more important things in this world and organise a fundraiser for the people less fortunate than me. This gave me the biggest boost in motivation. What have you missed the most? My boyfriend from Belgium. We couldn’t see each other for two months because of closed borders.

How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD? Fortunately, in Switzerland we never needed to wear a mask while riding. I can only imagine how difficult it must me to breath with a mask over your nose and mouth when you’re riding hard.


What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed? I look forward to travel back to South Africa and hopefully visit a Spur Schools MTB League event and race the Wines2Whales later this year.


What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD? It’s maybe not directly linked to cycling. But I found it astonishing how this pandemic revealed that politicians actually do have the power to implement drastic measures and that practical constraints aren’t an excuse to address an urgent matter. That and the solidarity the people have shown to fight the COVID-19, was amazing to see. I wish that we’ll use this as an example and that we will show as much solidarity and commitment to fight climate change, a much bigger threat to this world than this virus.


Send us your favourite riding pic of yourself ever – backstory, why? This is from a recent photo shoot in Andermatt, Switzerland, where I could ride the new Neuron:ON e-bike from Canyon the first time.

This bike is just so much fun to ride! And it was even more fun to shoot around these cute cows, who came to greet me when I was posing for a picture.

Have you worked out a favourite three hour window route? Luckily in Switzerland we could always ride outside the entire day. I did however use the racing free time to explore a bit more and found some great trails I didn’t know of before close to my home in Gunten. Just in case we’d get a 5km rule in Switzerland, you know. ;)

What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why? The cancellation of the Absa Cape Epic was by far the most upsetting at the time. We were almost on the start line; the tension was high and the body ready to perform. My team and I put a huge amount of effort into this race at that point already.

But as soon as I had the time to reflect and see the bigger picture I accepted the situation and was very thankful for any race organiser who cancelled their events to protect people’s health.

What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most? Definitely the Swiss Epic. I love the trails there and very much hope I get to race it with my partner Alice Pirard this year. But I also hope that I’ll be able to travel to Norway for the Skaidi Xtreme. It is a very unique race in the most northern part of Norway and is organised by incredibly nice people who became good friends.

Ariane feeling that E-bike stoke in Switzerland with some of her biggest fans in attendance.

FRANKIE DU TOIT What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD? I was very strict with myself for the first three weeks of lockdown in terms of social media use. It has a big impact on my mental state and I knew that this time would be stressful enough as it is, so I made the decision to delete all my social media platforms for a couple of weeks to give myself some space. I concentrated on all the extra time I had to do aspects of my training and recovery that I normally don’t get the chance to do. What have you missed the most? Group rides! I really miss riding with my mates and having fun sessions. I also miss all my local trails!

What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed? Go for a big ride with friends and then go have pizza and beer afterwards.

How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD? It’s hard! I’m not the biggest fan, especially doing intervals with a mask, it feels like I’m riding at altitude. I understand why it’s necessary now, but once I don’t have to, I definitely won’t be doing it!


What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD? I’ve learned that people will always find a way to do what they love. Whether it be riding day in day out on Zwift (for those lucky enough to have access to Zwift), or building little tracks and ramps in their back garden, or in my case sleeping on the floor for six weeks so I could be on a farm with some space to ride!

Have you worked out a favourite three hour window route? Haha, yes! Mine involved a lot of riding up and down little side streets I’d never been down before.

Send us your favourite riding pic of yourself ever – backstory, why? This photo is from one of my first enduro races - Kingdom Enduro in Lesotho. It was one of the hardest races I have ever done. I was a complete novice to enduro and had gone on a borrowed bike with not much gear and was completely intimidated by everyone else but ended up having the best time and falling in love with the discipline of enduro! (photo by Dom Barnardt).

What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why? I was supposed to be going over to Europe to race in my first ever EWS (Enduro World Series) races in Italy and Slovenia at the beginning of July, so I’m very upset that it is no longer happening. I’m also really going to miss the local Enduro Western Cape series races and Western Cape DH series. It’s always such a vibe getting together to play bikes with a whole bunch of other people that love it too!

What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most? SA Enduro champs and Crank Chaos! SA Enduro champs because it’s, well, it’s national champs, and it’s always rad racing national champs! And Crank Chaos because it’s one of the best events on the calendar, where you spend a weekend riding bikes in an amazing location with a whole bunch of other people that like bikes too.

Frankie effortlessly navigates through a rock garden in Lesotho.

JACO VENTER What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD? The biggest thing for me was just to stay positive; I haven’t put too much stress on myself about training and fitness, rather focusing on short indoor sessions and core training to keep my system ticking in Level 5, and lately it’s been super early MTB rides during the exercise window. I think we’ll have enough time to train properly before events with lockdown gradually phasing out, so I’m feeling quite positive about where my form is at, despite everything that is going on.

What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed? I’m planning on a three or four day training camp somewhere in the mountains, both for my head and my legs.

What have you missed the most? Seeing friends and family and being able to go outside whenever you feel like it. Riding in the dark also wasn’t enjoyable, and I’ve really missed Jonkershoek and Helderberg trails, but I am lucky that there are really good trails in my area.

How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD? It’s about 7 degrees and dark when I started my rides during Level 4, so although it’s not ideal, it’s helps keep the cold away from your chest. We are fortunate that it wasn’t middle of summer, as that would be another issue all together.

What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD? Mostly to appreciate things we take for granted every day, I will enjoy being outdoors so much more

after all of this! Things can change very quickly so make the most out of every day. I have also never seen so many cyclists on the roads and trails apart from pre-Cycle Tour, so I think that’s a good sign for the sport in the future.

Send us your favourite riding pic of yourself ever – backstory, why? This pic is from the final few kilometres on Stage 21 of the 2017 Tour de France on the ChampsÉlysées. Paris was packed, and you could hardly hear the bikes next to you as the crowds were absolutely deafening as the bunch went past. Steve Cummings and myself had the job of chasing down the breakaway to setup the sprint for my Teammate Edvald Boason Hagen. Edwald finished fifth on the day after taking the win on Stage 19 a couple days earlier. It was a hard three weeks for me, but it’s every cyclist’s dream to race the Tour de France, and I’m very grateful for having had the opportunity, and having such good memories from it too.


Have you worked out a favourite three hour window route? Yes, luckily I stay close to the Wannabees Trails in Somerset West, so I have been able to get quality single track every day. I normally started with a short lap on the road and then I went into the trails as the sun would come over the mountains here.

What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why? I was lucky to have done a fair amount of racing before lockdown started, but it was a real pity that most of them were build-up for the Epic that didn’t happen. I would have liked to do Joberg2C and Limpopo Tour, and missed the Jan Braai Cycle Tour in May but I’m sure we’ll get more opportunities next year.

What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most? It’s really difficult to plan a race schedule at the moment, which translates to no specific goal to train towards. I really hope to do Wines2Whales and Sani2C at the end of the season, but to be honest, I’m not that picky at the moment and would just like to start racing again.

Jaco casually dropping watt-bombs during the 2017 edition of the famous Tour de France.

SARAH HILL What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD? When lockdown stage 5 first began, my MTB skills business took a big knock as I had to stop teaching completely! I couldn’t really teach virtually, because a large component of my teaching is about adapting to my client and making sure I develop them at their pace. Luckily, I am still a cycling coach who prescribes training programs, so my main source of income remained relatively stable throughout lockdown (a special thank you to all my athletes who stuck with me through this time!). I also started studying my MA Sports Psychology degree, which kept me busy at nights. It was so hard not seeing my friends and chatting virtually and telephonically can only go so far. My motivation to train never really dipped, and I have all my friends from Joburg to thank for that! We are used to the city life, where we wake up early, ride before traffic, and head to the office by eight! During the winters it often gets dark, and cold, and so most of us already had indoor trainers. Thank goodness! I was introduced to this virtual racing app called Zwift, and suddenly, we were creating our own meetups, then entering our own races, and then making our own race series!

What have you missed the most? Lockdown really made me miss quality time with my close friends. I am recently single, which made the whole isolation thing so lonely! I missed hugs and sitting around a table with everyone laughing with each other. I missed girls’ nights, movie nights, going out to restaurants! Flip for Level 5 I even missed driving, traffic, and the radio! The thing I missed the most was human touch.

What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed? Go visit my best friend and give her the biggest hug ever! Haha. Two weeks ago, I would have said that I would have gone for an all-day bike ride. But I did that on Monday! 177km gravel ride with my two best guy friends. I needed to tick that box just because I could!

How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD? Winter in Johannesburg is pretty cold. On this morning’s ride it went to -4 degrees! I’m sure people from Europe and North America are laughing at me

right now, but for us that’s cold! I am such a warm weather person so riding in sub-zero conditions makes my face, fingers and toes so sore! Wearing a buff on the bike is no problem. But when you’re going hard it’s often difficult to breathe, so it took a lot of getting used to. I’ll definitely continue wearing my buff after lockdown, but I’ll only put it on when going through the super cold sections of the ride.

What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD? The isolation of lockdown was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to deal with. Usually I am surrounded by people and enjoy having my own space, but lockdown accentuated it and all of a sudden, I wanted what I couldn’t have! After a break up, usually you would get together with all your girlfriends, go out dancing, have dinners, movie nights, even splurge on some wine and chocolate! But I had to go through the healing process by myself. I had no distractions, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how to listen to my own heart. I realized how I had forgotten how to put myself first in life, and this was the perfect time to learn how to do that again. I trained when I wanted to, made the kind of food that I loved, worked, studied, read, and slept at the times that suited me! I worked through so much suppressed anxiety, worry, and heartbreak in the initial four week block.

Send us your favourite riding pic of yourself ever – backstory, why? This picture is of Theresa and I racing at the 2019 ABSA Cape Epic. I remember having just bombed down this long singletrack piece, and I was using the adrenaline to set the pace for the two of us up this big climb. It’s not often that I am setting the pace, especially during a stage race! This was my first Epic too, so every moment was so hectic and unforgettable. At the end of that stage we were told that we had moved into the African Leaders Jersey. What a moment!

Have you worked out a favourite three hour window route? Yes! Haha, but I wouldn’t say that it’s my favourite after four weeks of it! It was a similar route to what I would normally do with my friends at 4:55 am on the weekdays. The best part about it was that there was no traffic! It was safe at 6am, which is so unusual for the JHB region

What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why? Magoeba Trek! - This is such a magical race that I always look forward to. I have done it twice now and, on both occasions, I have fallen in love with the Limpopo mountains. They are so dense and raw. You can get lost for hours! When

lockdown is over I will be heading there for a potential Epic 2021 Training Camp. Dirty Kansa! - Oh my word, I was so looking forward to this race. I got in via the lottery entries, and the opportunity to go and race 200 miles on gravel in Emporia, Kansas, USA was going to be incredible. Luckily, they differed our entry to next year, so I can still go for it!

What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most? Both Cape Pioneer (September), Wines2Whales (October) and Sani2C (December) are still on the racing calendar. All three of these events are huge in South Africa and massive for me and my love for the sport of mountain biking. Last year was the first time I had won an UCI stage race (Cape Pioneer.) Wines2Whales is where all the best women in the world get together and come out to race the first women-only event in the world. And then of course there is South Africa’s home-grown Sani2C event.


Sarah charging ahead of team mate Theresa Ralph during the 2019 Absa Cape Epic.






RECOVERY STORAGE Sus out options to ensure you’re visible on the road, protected from Covid while riding, recovering fast and efficiently and storing your gear while travelling to and from the trailhead.






Hitting Jozi’s red gravel byways.

I was very excited to get back to Johannesburg after being away for just over two months during the lockdown period. During this time a lot changed in my life, with the birth of our son Eli, starting the Coopetto series and a few other things. All I wanted to do was get back home and plan a monster ride with friends that share the same idea of freedom. The idea of riding your bike all day with lekker people and great weather. With this idea in mind, the planning for our first real post-lockdown adventure started and this one was simple: We wanted to go out, have fun and hit 100miles of mostly gravel riding. Before I knew it there was a WhatsApp group called the secret cycling club (not so secret anymore). All the planning for the big day took place on this group with some friendly banter as well. Bryn planned most of the route as he knows the area around Magalies the best and we obviously did not want to get lost out there. With that in mind, it is very important to plan your route in advance if you want to attempt a big ride alone or with friends. Planning your ride gives you the opportunity to estimate how long you will be out there and the possible locations you can use as a stop to rest and purchase some much needed snacks. We arrived home on Friday afternoon one day before the big adventure and Michaele, the great wife she is, decided to give me the night off Eli duty to get a full nights sleep before the big day. This really helped a lot with recovery form the long drive and some sleepless nights during the week before. I woke up feeling rested and ready for the big adventure that awaited. Luckily we decided to only leave at 7:30; not too early or to cold. I had my normal oats and coffee breakfast, said goodbye to Miki and Eli and headed out to the meeting point at Broad Acres, about five minutes from home. I did

arrive a bit late, but most people know I arrive a few minutes late for most rides (not on purpose). Finally the long awaited adventure began and a bit too fast if you ask me. The group was definitely excited to get out there and ride/race. The first few kilometres went by very fast. We tried to avoid tar roads as much as possible, luckily Johannesburg has a great gravel road network that is not very hard to find and connect with other gravel roads. Our first stop was a Bidon Bistro in the cradle at the 33 km mark. We took some time to shed some layers and fill up bottles as the next stop will be a


bit of a stretch. Heading out of the cradle onto our circular gravel loop, the weather started changing for the better and we were all just having such a great time out on our bikes with friends. From kilometre 60 to the next stop at Magaliesig Spar the roads took a turn for the worse, the conditions of the roads was not very good but we kept going and kept moving forward. Luckily I was on my mountain bike and not a gravel bike. Arriving at out next stop, we were all very excited to get our hands on some sweet snacks and maybe even a Coke or two. I was very happy to find out that Dax decided to buy some pancakes but not Half-way refuel

too happy when I realised I definitely ate too many before we got going again a few minutes later. After the halfway mark we kept the pace fairly steady and settled into a nice tempo before we hit the Cradle again at about 50 km to go. I always had the plan to test the my legs during the last bit of the ride, so from this point onwards I decided to increase the pace a bit. I believe racing will start again sometime this year and when it does I would like to be on some sort of form to compete in local events. The plan for the last hour and a bit was to ride at a tempo that is just above where I feel comfortable. This will give me and indication of how my body feels and performs after the five hour mark. With our newfound tempo we quickly reached our last stop, Bidon Bistro once again. This time we stopped for a bit longer to enjoy a coffee and even a Coke to get us home as fast as possible.

We left Bidon with the same idea in mind – let’s see if we can push the limits a bit for the last 30 km. This did have a slight negative affect on the group riding aspect. We all rode at our own pace up all the hills back into Fourways with a few sprints here and there and even a few top 10 finishes in Strava KOM’s. We did regroup before we rolled back into town and by this time we all felt the duration of the entire ride, especially the pace of the last bit. The ride and day was a success as we arrived with one goal in mind and that was to have fun and ride some new routes around Johannesburg. That goal was definitely achieved, there has always been a negative connotation around cycling in Johannesburg and how little options we have here. That is not the case, Johannesburg has a lot of options for all forms of cycling. Please make sure you check out the video of this epic day out.

SUS THE RIDE! I am TIMO COOPER and I grew up in a small town called Wellington. Most cyclists will know Wellington for its amazing trail network and for hosting the Cape Epic and a few other big races over the years. I was not always a big sportsman or even a sportsman at all, I still cannot catch a ball to save my life. At the age of 17 in grade 11, I was asked if I wanted to join the local bike club on one of their easy weekend rides, I was hooked within the first few minutes. I fell in love with riding from that day and have been ever since.

When nature calls, nature calls.

From 2009 it got serious very quickly, riding for results, trying to get sponsors, trying to better myself . As a professional athlete I had the privilege of meeting some of the biggest names in the sport, training with them, asking questions and even racing with some of them. This really upped my cycling to an entirely new level. Through this series I am excited to share some of my rides and knowledge I have learnt over the years with you.

In-house bike reviewer and videographer RAY COX gets up close and personal with the 2021 Cannondale Scalpel. There had been some clandestine moves to hide the new bike but we have finally managed to get our hands on one. Check out the video review and read Ray’s thoughts here.




t’s 10 December 2019, I’m on a trail in Stellenbosch and I see a distant figure speeding towards me. The pilot of this bike was none other than a Cannondale Factory rider on a blank grey bike. As we know, that’s generally a prototype and I was quite surprised to see it and immediately noticed that the suspension pivots were different. Then three months later I’m at the Songo race and see Alex Howes on the same bike but in EF Education colours. Rumours were that this “new Bike” was launching at the Epic and of course we know what happened there. So approximately six months since I saw the Scalpel 2021 prior to the official launch, I finally got my hands on one. SPECS Let’s take a quick run through the specs: 12-speed Shimano drivetrain which is reliable but not super flashy; the shifter and cassette are SLX, the rear derailleur is XT and the crankset is Cannondale’s Hollowgram 1 Cranks. So your drivetrain is bombproof! The bar and seat post are all aluminium. The saddle is the short-nosed Prologo Dimension NDR saddle – I find that you should point the nose down slightly for a better ride. The suspension is the big shift from the old Scalpel. It has less pivots due to the FLEXSTAY at back that gives the bike a great climbing feel but no sacrifice on the downhill as the bigger bumps are taken care of by the FOX DPS rear shock. The Lefty Ocho is up front and has so far proven to be a winner. THE RIDE Pedalling to the top of Jonkers with the Scalpel 2021 I felt straight away that this bike


climbs better than the older model. The whole rear triangle is solid at the BB and your main pivot is the junction point which results in a stiffer power transfer by the cranks. Going up the trail called Irish, which gets steep at the top with tricky, climbing switchbacks, the bike felt balanced with no understeer nor tipping over when almost coming to a standstill while negotiating rocks. I never used the lock-out once with this bike as the Lefty and Fox combo are so well balanced with the factory recommended settings and the bike didn’t bob or lose efficiency when pedalling. As we rode the contour before Red phoenix I didn’t know what to expect. The older Scalpel was like a pet snake, you just didn’t really know when it was going to bite you, but this Scalpel is so stable with the slacker head angle it felt like a Habit! So going full send was manageable; not once did I feel like the bike was out of control. VERDICT Testing this bike in Jonkershoek was amazing with a variety of trail and tough climbs with the reward of some of the world’s best downhills. Scalpel 2021 is a winner, the 3 model has huge potential, knowing that a set of carbon wheels will unlock that World Cup performance. This will have me saving for that first upgrade. This aside, the standard rig is still more than ready to be raced at your local XCO event or to tackle a multi-day stage race straight out the box.

Pros: Great ride, amazing small bump compliance with the Lefty and Fox taking the big hits. Cons: Wheels will be my first upgrade but understandable that this would jack the price up.

RRP: R74 995.00 SHOCK RATING: 3.5 out of 5







t’s 26 March 2020. Despite best advice stockpiling had happened, every bit of wipe, spray, gel or sanitizer was bought – we were as safe as could be, BUT: we were not allowed to go outside and ride our bikes. Major problem! Not just for us as cyclists but definitely for the co-habitants of our house. There was no other option, the only way any of us was going to ride was on a stationary bike or indoor trainer. I had fairly nasty memories of using a smart trainer to train for an event and the prospect of using one for recreational purposes seemed unappealing. I suppose it is safe to say that the indoor trainers are about as polarizing as E-bikes and as with E-bikes, the negative views mostly seem to come from those who have yet to properly try the products. Without getting into too much detail, indoor trainers are loosely available as smart trainers that have been designed to simulate outdoor riding by automatically adjusting the resistance (according to a chosen App or computer program) and the more widely known magnetic resistance or mag trainers where you manually adjust the resistance of the rear flywheel and further utilise your gears to create a varying intensity training environment. The mag trainers are a lot more cost effective and don’t easily sync with various training programs available – but they certainly do the job.


Lockdown stationary training’ Sam Robertson gives his perspective on riding indoors while under lockdown.

I am fortunate to have a smart trainer and while they come with a hefty price difference, the difference is huge! There is the range of software products available linking to the smart trainers which allows you to virtually ride, pretty much wherever you would like. Most of the software programs offer the same or similar functionality with a few added bells and whistles here and there. (There are various platforms to mount your bike on that create a moving side to side sensation as well, and let’s not forget the good old rollers – Ed)


Practising mask wearing for riding in the wild!

Again without getting into the detail, the software products and apps all vary the resistance of the trainer to replicate the gradient that you are riding. The experience is remarkably life-like. They all work on an algorithm that calculates your speed based on a Watts per kilogram metric. Watts are read from the trainer, and the user enters the kilograms. Honestly. Like a golf handicap. So off I went. Bike hooked up to trainer and iPad connected – you don’t have to be a tech-head, it’s easy to do with no real fuss. My first ride was a general free-pedal on a randomly selected route somewhere in Europe. It was boring as hell and I had that sinking feeling that this was not something that was going to last. I was really despondent, believing I would seriously pack on the kilo’s and become totally unfit over this lockdown period. The next day, hungover and reading the news apps over a morning cup of coffee I heard about scheduled coffee group rides. Many of these were led by pro teams, with the ride leader chatting via text message with the rest of the group (another great feature of the smart trainer apps!). The rides were positioned primarily as fund raising events. The next available ride was with Daryl Impey and his Mitchelton Scott team. I was in. Lycra on (don’t hold it against me mtbers!), second cup of coffee brewed and ride joined. The rides were all pace-based on the average Watt/KG for the ride and were generally an hour long. A complete game changer and what a jol! Daryl (I feel like I can call him that now – Daz might

There are others, but Zwift was our tool of choice. be pushing it …) was his usual chirpy self – offering advice to his teammates on Easter Egg consumption among other things. We flew, I burned huge calories trying to keep up with the lead group, eventually getting dropped after about 20 minutes and joining a slower group of riders for the rest of the hour. This was great fun and I was totally hooked. Shortly after the ride ended, I was searching for the next one. Eventually scheduling my next five weeks based on when I was riding what ride! No boredom, happy heart and training carrots galore! My new happy place!

Five weeks into lockdown and that crazy 5km radius 6am – 9am respite was generously made available for three weeks. It was better than nothing, but for + You sweat a lot more on an those of us riding hard virtually, whilst the odd jaunt outside was indoor trainer. Like a LOT certainly fun, it did not replace more. To the extent that my our indoor trainers! What a turnshoes would leave puddles around. So we kept riding! on the floor after a ride! A The events industry was hit fan was necessary, almost hard by lockdown and cycling events were not immune, some compulsory, it helps a lot. of the local events companies + You get super strong in a saw an opportunity to take their short period of time. I went events online and the virtual from getting dropped by cycling event was born. Properly 2.5 W/kg rides to keeping timed and hosted, they are up with 3.2W/kg rides fabulous. I did one at the end of May, and then another one in the relatively comfortably. middle of June. The first one I did + Riding with mates virtually solo, with two mates joining me either by hooking up a for the second and we rode it like Zoom, WhatsApp, Diverge we would have the actual event. (etc.) meeting to chat Together. The Tankwa Trek is no push-over, probably one of the definitely adds to the toughest MTB stage races in experience, the closest the country – and we took it on, we could get to riding in a virtually! There were more than group outdoors. 80 people riding the full event + which roughly mirrored the distance and elevation of the real All my rides were linked deal! A four day MTB stage-race to Strava, which recognizes and it lived up to its reputation segments from the virtual ride, so challenging yourself virtually - it was damn tough! Possibly happens automatically. Actually not entirely as hard as the actual riding the Tormalet and Alpe du race - you can’t simulate the terrain, weather conditions, and Huez is truly humbling when technical challenges that add the you compare your time to that adrenalin rush and overall fun. of the pros.


Pity about the view...


+ A towel on the bars and a towel under the bike are non-negotiable – you will be astounded at the amount of liquid on the floor after a good session. + You will definitely consume a lot more liquid than on an outside ride – have a spare water bottle within close reach. + You will be losing electrolytes with the amount of sweat you’re dropping – don’t be shy to add electrolytes to a spare bottle and sip on it continually as you train. Remember to rehydrate afterwards too. + Long rides, and I mean long rides, 3 - 4 hours on the training bike will also be a great opportunity to test you on the bike eating regime – have your bars, shakes, nuts, real food prepared and within reach – you will bonk on the bike if you don’t. + Look after your rusty sheriff’s badge! With so much sweat you will chafe! So lot of chamois (bum) cream! Be generous and don’t be afraid to re-lube on a long ride. You will only forget once …

SAM ROBERTSON Sam is an avid midpack MTB’er who likes long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets.

The new Eye Candy section allow photographers and budding amateur photographers to display a snippet of their talent. Send in your top 5 images, include who we credit and a short backstory with tech details to sussed@fullsus.co.za




Former SA DH Champion and regular columnist for Full Sus, Stefan Garlicki had to get “home”, he shares his adrenaline filled trip to reach his two loves – his partner and racing! he last few months have been a crazy time for all of us with COVID-19 and at points it seemed like it would never end BUT there is light at the end of the tunnel! We all had to deal with our personal struggles and for me my main focus was to get back to Germany to be with my better half and to go racing of course! I was lucky enough to be stuck on a farm during lockdown and I had space to ride a bit at home and keep active which was a huge plus for me. I really feel for all the people stuck in tiny apartments in the city. However, the goal was Germany and I looked at every option available even going on a cargo ship for 30 days ha-ha! It took a while but after about six weeks of phone calls and emails I managed to get a repatriation flight to the UK. I have a British passport and so I was eligible to get on board. The situation was still very stressful and uncertain as I


was not 100% sure I would be allowed into Germany as I am not German and am not married to my partner. However after a lot of research I was quite sure I could get in, but still not guaranteed. And so the process started, I needed to be at the Cape Town Stadium at 6am where all the passengers had a health check and then needed to wait to get buses to the airport. There were 12 buses and each bus was checked by police dogs at the airport before we could get off. We were the only flight to leave Cape Town and the airport was a ghost town with lots of police around. It was like a movie, honestly. Finally I managed to check in my three bikes which was also an uncertainty because I was told no bikes allowed and no extra luggage. BUT I had to take my bikes so I just tried my luck and it worked! Soon we were on our way and arrived in London at 10:15PM where I met up with a friend of mine who is a pilot and he had come

Stef enjoying a last ride on his self-built DH track.

all the way from Munich to fetch me! We had to sleep in the airport on the floor as we had an early flight the next day. I could get a ticket without booking, due to being with a pilot. During the night we snuck into an empty restaurant so we could sleep on the couch BUUUT it was short-lived as the police found us and chased us out, ha-ha! The next step was getting me on the flight to Frankfurt and at first they would not let me check in as I was not German. It was a very stressful 15 minutes but eventually, after a phone call to Germany, they said I could go! I then had the same issue when I arrived in Germany but again luckily they let me in. Finally I could celebrate! The last step of the journey was driving 400km to Munich which was the final stop. When I arrived it was an

unreal moment and I could not believe I had made it, against the odds. So many people told me it would not work but in the end determination pays off. I could not have done it without some really good friends. Now I can finally get ready to go racing again, but only time will tell when that will be. Until next time ‌


STEFAN GARLICKI is a 2X downhill national champion and a World Cup DH racer. Make sure you give him a follow on Twitter: @StefanGarlicki and Instagram: @stefangarlicki.

Stef and Sara reunited.


VALLEY OF DREAMS ... “Ultimate” is one of those adjectives that are oft over-used, but in the case of the “Ultimate Southern Pass Trail’” I really believe it applies. This new multi-day route traverses half a dozen private properties within the Stanford Valley, and everything from the views to the actual trail rate as downright superlative. WORDS AND IMAGES: JACQUES MARAIS


You get dorps and you get villages, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Stanford falls within the latter category. The town was originally established in 1857 on Kleinrivier Farm, which was at the time owned by Sir Robert Stanford. The village remains a model of exceptional urban design, despite the fact that it originally was a farming community with narrow gravel lanes leading down to the riverbanks. Many of the houses have been lovingly restored and the locals – a mixed bag of well-to-do retirees, artists and rural folk - take pride in the town’s Cape Victorian and Edwardian architectural heritage, with many regarding it as one of SA’s best preserved villages. The great outdoors awaits just beyond these quiet streets, with the winding water course of the Klein River undulating along the foothills of the rugged Akkedisberg ranges. Fynbos ridges, forested kloofs, sedge-lined wetlands and verdant grasslands edge the valley as you travel inland into the Overstrand “breadbasket” around Bredasdorp and Napier. About 10km from the village, you will reach the scenic spread of the Stanford Valley Guest Farm, part of a diverse conservancy protected by a group of committed landowners. This 440ha property lies at the heart of the new “Ultimate Southern Pass Trail”, and mountain bikers will be able to ride amidst rare plant species such as the Erica Shannonea. The trail network connects via mountainous singletrack to the exquisite Beloftebos, and on one of our trail outings, I saw no less than five sunbird species upon the pristine fynbos slopes. Rhebok, eland, grysbok, caracal and even scarce Cape leopard roam here, and we were lucky enough to see it’s spoor.

Stanford Valley brims with opportunities to star gaze, indulge in nature photography, take part in meditation and yoga retreats, sample world-class cheese, wine and craft beer, or just relax to your heart’s content. One thing is for sure, the USP Trail is calling and it will be difficult to ignore: for info, check out www.stanford.co.za or www.beloftebos.co.za One of the great things about a route like the ULTIMATE SOUTHERN PASS Trail is that you have a variety of trail heads to start from. The most popular of these regional destinations will definitely be Stanford Valley Guest Farm or Beloftebos, and both these destinations boast great accommodation options. There are a number of route options if you start from the Stanford Valley side, with the “Tower Loop” featuring the most recent of these additions, known as “Lizard’s Leap”. First drop into a magical little forest section before you crank into a winding ascent taking you past the local telecom tower on a rambunctious 4km singletrack loop. The riding is tricky in places, but gorgeous views of Akkedisberg Pass add ample gain to the pain. You also have the option to head from SVGF past the gorgeous swimming dam, where the route splits to offer two options: keep right onto “Skin and Bones”, a gritty climb up to a viewpoint bench, before you bang all the way back down to join the main route (after 2.3km) at the start of one of the other STRAVA segments. This one sticks to the valley to the left of the dam, and is known as “Slipstream”. Imagine a lazy Cape cobra slithering into the fynbos ridges towards Beloftebos; stream crossing and tight ess-bends boom you into fynbos fields for 1.8km before you eventually connect onto the jeeptrack descending from the tower. Keep right here and continue climbing into the high watershed sky-lining above Stanford Valley Guest Farm, keeping an eye out for wildlife and leopard spoor.

Apparently, there’s a massive stag – with an impressive antler rack – ranging free amidst the craggy outcrops, too. The total distance from the guest farm to the apex along the “Beloftebos Stairway” is just on 8km with around 850m of altitude gain, and from here you can pin your ears back as you bomb into the downhill. Also known as Paardenberg Farm, this world-class wedding venue nestles in the embrace of the adjoining valley. The descent makes for fast and flowing riding that will suit riders with a bit more experience, but beginners will be able to hold it together. The first descent section is “Hole in the Wall”, with no less than 11 switchbacks, before you gear into granny for the steep “Horribult” climb. Keep it tidy as you charge into “Sunrise”, “Hans-se-Bult” and “Running Start”, all the while feeding your singletrack stoke. The trail passes a couple of hide-away cottages, including Melk-en-Heuning (Milk and Honey), where there is currently a few new segments of trail under construction. Give it gas through the poplar forests near Lighthouse Cottage and then cross the main dirt road to Salmonsdam. The riding here is exquisite and keeps on getting better as you blast over a wooden suspension bridge and into the “Lord of the Rings” scenery of the ancient Beloftebos oak tree forest. Before you know it, the oaks morphs into a stand of giant eucalyptus blue-gums. Keep following the river course until you connect to the “Oom Salie” singletrack, powering along a gradual climb on to Sterkfontein. All the new additions will allow you to vary your route, and push the total trail distance to well over 35km, or you can add in some of the gravel roads to bump your ride up to a 60km circuit. Riders who’ve entered the annual “Stanford MTB Classic” might well recognise some of these world-class singletrack builds, while trail runners and other weekend warriors have long since discovered the breath-taking scenery of the seductive Stanford Valley landscape.

GPS - Latitude: -34.413885 Longitude: 19.56296 In addition, Salmonsdam Nature Reserve is situated adjacent to Beloftebos, at the foot of the Paardenberg Mountains. Although there is currently no designated MTB route, plenty of riding opportunities exist on a jeeptrack network within the reserve, with breath-taking views of Walker Bay, Caledon and Bredasdorp - www.capenature.co.za

JACQUES MARAIS is a GIANT (RSA) Ambassador and SA’s MTB Trail Guru, with six mountain biking trail guides and the www.mtbroutes.co.za to his name. If he’s not on his bike, chances are he’s out trail running or surfing in some wild corner of the country ... His latest book, ‘A Guide to More MOER & GONE Places’, will be on shelf later this year. Follow him on Twitter @JacqMaraisPhoto or www.jacquesmarais.co.za



TIMES BY STICKING TO THE BASICS The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a new challenge to both professional and recreational cyclists alike. Countries introduced restrictions on outdoor activities, and many have only recently removed or adjusted these policies to allow us to spend time outdoors. The restrictions highlighted a very important aspect of training; sticking to the basics of exercise prescription. There is nothing wrong with a little bit of creativity, but when it comes to improving your performance on the bike, if you haven’t taken care of the basics, then progression is unlikely to occur. In this article we will cover the basics of training load and how you can apply these to your own training to improve your performance. TRAINING LOAD Training load can be considered the “dose” of exercise that you are applying to your body. We can consider training load for any given time period; daily, weekly or monthly, and many of the training platforms and analysis software, such as Training Peaks, Strava and Golden Cheetah, allow us to quantify our training load using exponentially weighted moving averages (e.g. ATL and CTL) which provide us with an easy to digest number to track our training loads. Periodization is the organisation of training load into periods of progressive overload, which essentially means that we increase our training loads as we progress through our training programme or block.

Training load is comprised of two separate components; the external training load and the internal training load. External training load External training load is the “stress” that is applied to the body. For example, you might head out for a two-hour ride and average 200 Watts for the duration of the ride. The external training load has three components:

+ Frequency – the number of training sessions for a given time period + Duration – the length of a training session + Intensity – how hard was the training session (power output, heart rate, rating of perceived exertion (RPE))

For a given training session, we can manipulate both the duration and the intensity in order to promote a specific physiological response. Previously, duration or distance was used as a measure of training load, but reporting your weekly training load as 500 km or 14 hours completely neglects the intensity of those sessions. Similarly, reporting an average power output of 200 Watts or 156 bpm, does not mean much without an associated duration. The stress imposed, and therefore the physiological responses to riding at 200 Watts for two hours will be vastly different to that of riding at 200 Watts for four hours and

this needs to be taken into account when planning your training programme. External training load is often prescribed using intensity domains or training zones. These zones should be determined by physiological testing prior to the commencement of a training programme. Although high training loads are required for success in endurance performance, it is important to note that a high training load for one athlete will be different to that of another. It is also critical to remember that there is no dose-response relationship with training load. In other words, simply increasing your training load will not guarantee an improvement in performance. How that training load is

will reduce the physiological response to your training. Internal training load Internal training load is your physiological response to the external training load applied to the body. One of the challenges of using certain platforms to track our training loads is the absence of a valid and reliable measure of internal training load. We can have a very clear picture of how our external load is progressing, but without a measure of the internal training load, we are only seeing half the picture. Heart rate at a given intensity (power output or RPE) is probably the most accessible measure of internal training load. In fact, the relationship between these three

organized is an important consideration. It is very important to monitor how your training intensity is distributed between your different training zones. Many successful endurance athletes have adopted a polarized approach to their training intensity distribution, which means that 80 % of their training occurs at a VERY low intensity, and the remainder, 20% is completed at a VERY high intensity. They avoid accumulating too much time in the, “somewhat hard” exercise domain, because, while it may cause some fatigue, it does not provide a stress high enough to promote significant adaptations. Spending too much time here may reduce your capacity to hit the target intensities of your harder training sessions, which in turn

variables can provide some important clues as to how a cyclist is responding to their training. For example, if a cyclist is riding at a 200 Watts and their heart rate is lower than it usually is, this could be a sign of positive adaptation to training. However, if the lower heart rate at a given power output is accompanied by an increased perception of effort (it feels harder to ride at that intensity), then it could be sign of some fatigue and perhaps a lighter session or rest day is needed. Powermeters have become increasingly affordable and as a result more and more cyclists are using them and ignoring their heart rate monitors. If you have access to both, I would strongly recommend that you

use both in order to monitor YOUR applied to the body will not increase responses to your training and make and the adaptations to the training adjustments to your training if required. will therefore plateau. Depending on the cyclist, their background and their BACK TO BASICS immediate goals, we will typically use a The simplest way to increase your three weeks on, one week off (recovery performance is to ensure that week) structure to plan their training your training has been periodized load. The training load will increase (organized) to allow for progressive week on week for those first three periods of overload. In other words, weeks, but then drop off significantly to ensure that your training load is allow them to recover before the next increasing over time. If your load does training block. not increase, the stress (external load)

BENOIT CAPOSTAGNO currently works for Science to Sport in Cape Town. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Cape Town and is investigating training adaptation and fatigue in cyclists. For more info: www.sciencetosport.com





WESTERN CAPE 24 July 2021 Around the Pot 100 Miler 25 SA MTB National Championships

EASTERN CAPE 15-19 Pondo Pedal 19 Grahamstown 2 Sea – The first few kilometers include a climb up Mountain Drive from Grahamstown industrial area. There is a rocky single track down from the Toposcope which can be a bit hair raising for some. The decent down the valley on the Southwell road is steep but it is tarred. It is important to keep left and keep a slow pace in the blind corners. The rest of the route is on country road. It is mostly a lazy downhill but does include a couple of uphills. A short single track section takes the bikes off the country road and into the back of Rosehill Mall, Port Alfred. A total of 58 km.

LIMPOPO 18 K2C Cycle Tour

GAUTENG 25 Trailseekers Series # 3 Buffelsdrift

KZN 18-19 Scottburgh MTB Race 31 iMolfozi MTB Challenge



14 November 2020 Rooibos2Muisbos – With two distances available you can pick your challenge. The Long ride of 112km starts at Sederberg Primary School in Clanwilliam and the Short ride of 38km starts at Graafwater High School in Graafwater. Both distances finish at Lambert’s Bay. 1 Trailseeker Series # 4 Wellington

EASTERN CAPE 7-9 Great Kei Trek – A 3-day, 223km race/ ride. A race that isn’t a race. Each day we have various Strava Sections and we had a number of these on each day – some were won by the racing snakes and some by the non-snakes, and some were won by people who didn’t even ride a particular Strava Section.The emphasis is on pushing yourself as best you can, but without the pressure of a typical MTB race. This will definitely appeal to those who traditionally use the months of April or May for their “away-game”. But do not be fooled. This is not a “Walk in the Park”. There are some tough and honest kilometres out there to be cycled.

KZN 2 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge 7-9 Y2Karoo – The 7th edition of this race will have even more jeep and singletrack with a few surprises along the way. This event caters for everyone and will not have cut-off times so you can take your time riding through the beautiful Karoo scenery and enjoy 3 days of mountain biking.




EASTERN CAPE TBC Storms River Traverse 23 January 2021 Trans Baviaans 31 January 2021 Trans Baviaans The Repeat

GAUTENG 1-10 The 1000 Miler 7-27 The 2000 Miler

NORTH WEST 22 Cycle4CANSA – One of the most beautiful races in South Africa and it’s at the best time of year with little chance of rain and mild temperatures. New trail sections lead inside the stunning Letsateng Game Reserve and riders will see an abundance of wildlife. Have fun whilst raising funds for the Cancer Association of South Africa.

17-19 Dr Evil Classic 20 Karoo to Coast 25-27 Langeberg Link

EASTERN CAPE 6 Angora MTB Classic 25-27 Ride the Karoo – The tour entails riding along the 200 year old stone walls, on smooth “sheeptracks” and passing the familiar windpomp scenes along the way. You will get to experience authentic Karoo hospitality with everything from braais to craft beer among picturesque sunsets. Ride the Karoo is not about crossing the finish line first but rather about a riding experience like no other.

NORTH WEST 12 Trailseeker Series # 5 Skeerpoort



18-20 3 Towers Stage Race

WESTERN CAPE 5-9 Greyton MTB Tour 6-12 Cape Pioneer Trek 11 Ride2Nowhere – A good challenge to the racing snakes but also doable for the weekend warrior, the Ride2Nowhere offers something for you and your whole family. You can expect a proper mountain bike experience with lots of beautiful trails for your to ride.







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