The weekend of 3 October we were at 7Weekspoort MTB Challenge! Well done to all the participants! Our own Assistant Brewmaster, Anja Van Zyl, also participated in her CBC kit with fellow riders Gemma Grobbelaar & Leona Howard.
Hope the cold one at the end made the recovery a little quicker!
Jennie Stenerhag raced her last race for 2014 this weekend. Almost time for 2015′s race program and prep!
“Now that 2014 racing year has come to an end, I look forward to 2015! Some changes are happening at the moment and I will get back with an update just before Christmas!” – Jennie Stenerhag
The past weekend was a real cycling weekend in Stellenbosch, Friday and Saturday was “Origin of Trails” MTB race and on Sunday it was “Stellenbosch Cycle Tour” (formerly known as “Die Burger”). Since I have won Die Burger 6 times before and it would be my 8th consecutive time doing it I wanted to save my legs until Sunday, at the same time as I really wanted to do Origin of Trails to see new single tracks around Stellenbosch which we normally do not have access to. The purpose of Origin of Trails is to raise funds to build even more trails in our beautiful area and is of course something I want to support!
So on Friday morning I rolled down to the start to the middle of central Stellenbosch, the atmosphere was at its peak and everybody was ready to have fun out on the bikes. Since it is in the end of the season and also no prize money all the pros had decided to take it easy, it suited me perfectly! We became a group of 6 elite girls who rode together and took it easy and stopped at all the water points, of course we chatted the whole time, amusing or anoying for the guys riding around us Most of the route went on the trails we knew in Jonkershoek while we did some new that were totally amazing! Really fun!
As usual when it comes to road races in South Africa, it’s a super early start! The alarm was set for 4:20 and I was glad that the race was in Stellenbosch so that I could just ride to the start which was at 6:04! Anriette Schoeman was there and she would be my toughest competition on the day, we rode hard up the first climb to try and get rid of the other girls, especially Maroejska that has a good sprint. After about 300 meters we started climbing up Hellshoogte, a hill of 4km and quite steep! We went over the top in a small bunch with Anriette and I as the only girls but unfortunately the peloton caught up with us after about 14 km and we were a group of about 100 riders. I’m not a person who likes to “just sit” in the bunch, I am constantly trying to stay close to the front in case it would split or a crash, but in hindsight I probably wasted too much energy on it!
Once we had about 20 km to go, we had some short steep hills to do and on every hill Anriette and I went hard, got a gap with some guys, and then the rest caught up with us! It was really frustrating! With 1km left I sat perfectly positioned on Anriettes wheel and I kept that place and prepared myself for the sprint when suddenly the whole bunch came with speed from behind and it felt like they just swallowed us, suddenly I could hardly see Anriette and was just trying to get out of this mess. 2 guys drifted to the side with me on their outside and I almost crashed in to the fence, it was so close I think my heart stopped! While I was busy almost crashing Maroesjka rolled passed me and I was in 3rd… So once again when we race with the men it was a result that was more about luck than strength!
Read more here.
“We won the race in a new record time for mixed teams of 5 hours 28 minutes, 5 minutes faster than the Complete Cyclist.” – Jennie Stenerhag
Double Century is a 202km team time trial where you start in a team of 12 and 6 must finish together. We competed in the mixed category where 3 girls and 3 guys have to finish together. It is always difficult to find strong girls and this year it was going to be my 3rd time racing for the Give Me A Chance foundation and I was responsible for finding strong girls. You have to make the decision whether to start with 3 or 4 girls, if you start with 3 there is room for one more guy who is stronger, but then nothing must happen to any of the girls. With four girls you can “afford” to loose one if something happens. When we put the team together we were 5 girls, 2 dropped out and we brought in a new and but with 5 days to go to the race another 2 dropped out. On Monday evening we were only 2 girls and not full team. It was once again time to call every possible girl who could ride a bike fast for 202km but not already in a team!! Not so many!
Finally we found Kathrin, a German triathlete who is in Stellenbosch often, only thing was that she had no road bike just a TT bike which is not allowed in this race. We rented a bike for her from iRide Africa and she got at least a few days to try it.
Since girls had pulled out we took a few new guys in to the team the last week, so with a handful of last-minute changes, we stood on the start line in a few different tops since the tops were ordered for the original team and the sizes were not right for this team….
The team who would be our toughest competition was The Complete Cyclist and they started 30 seconds behind us! They soon caught us but we stayed calm since we knew that this race is won in the last 50 kilometers. We had them at a distance so that we could always see them and we could see that they pushed hard up the first climb. We past them on the downhill and left them behind. But after a while they once again caught us and passed us and pushed really hard up the second climb, and we passed them on the downhill. At the first feedstation after 115km both teams were together.
New since last year was the compulsory stop where the time stops when we cross the matts to go in and starts again when we cross the matts on the other side to go out and we have 30 minutes to spare, if we would stay for longer the time starts after 30 minutes. Every team has an allocated spot where the team car can park with your food and drinks. Our spot was next to the Complete Cyclist team and when they decided to go again we waited a bit extra since we did not want to race so close to them but to do our own race. We raced hard and the guys in the team were super strong! There was another compolsury stop (new this year) and when we got there the Complete cyclist team was there, our backup team said we might have made some time up on them. We left before them and pushed hard so that they would not catch us. In the last 20 kilometers there are three steep hills and this is where one can make up a lot of time if one has some energy left. Konny was our strongest guy and he helped the girls incredibly well and made us maintain a high speed.
We won the race in a new record time for mixed teams of 5 hours 28 minutes, 5 minutes faster than the Complete Cyclist.
Everyone in the team did really well!!! Especially considering we hardly had a team a few days ago! Thanks to Sure Global Travel for sponsoring the team in support of the Give me a chance foundation. Thank you Delaray and Waylon for organising everything! And a huge thank you to the team: Kelly, Kathrin, Konny, Delarey, Hannes, Dylan, Waylon, Theo, Declan, Andreas and Timo, it was the strongest team I’ve ever ridden the DC with and if I am not misstaken it was my 9th DC!
For more, visit Jennie’s website.
“It was the first time they had this race in Paarl and a huge thank you and well done goes to the organizers for a really good event and a tough, hard and fun route!!” – Jennie Stenerhag
Cape Brewing Company was one of the sponsors of this race, and one of the water points were at the brewery, it really was a “home race” for CBC. I really wanted to do this race since part of the route includes the new trails of Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, this place has quickly become one of my favorite places to mountainbike, the single tracks are just awesome.
I had not prepared as I normally do for this race, I had visitors from Sweden here in Stellenbosch and it is the end of the season so I took a mental break from the serious training, sometimes the head also needs a break.
It was a tough start and Craig was the one that made it really hard at the front of the bunch when the climbing started, he looked in good form! The first 35 minutes were uphill and I could feel that my legs were not really in to this on the day. I was thinking of the fun riders who chose to do an easier route of 30km instead of the 60km, they also had to go up that first long climb! I was happy when I reached Rhebokskloof and could have some fun on the single tracks, it is always nice to race on trails one knows well! I had great support from Mercia and Scott at the waterpoint at the brewery, I did not have time for a stop, I guess the racing devil comes out no matter how small the race is…
I won the ladies category and Craig did well and finished 3rd on the mens.
It was the first time they had this race in Paarl and a huge thank you and well done goes to the organizers for a really good event and a tough, hard and fun route!!
Visit Jennie’s website here.
“It was a very exciting race, thanks Robyn and Cath for the competition! I dont think that it has ever been so close in a ladies stage race in South Africa, it is very healthy for ladies cycling when our races are exciting and it makes people want to follow us!” – Jennie Stenerhag
Day 1: 73km 1450 meters climbing
We started at the Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, and from the start we climbed up a 5km long hill! I felt good from the start and pushed as hard as I felt that Candice could hold on to and we got a gap to Robyn and Cathrine straight away. On the way down on the other side we went fast since we knew that was our chance to open the gap more. It was fun to ride behind Candice on the single tracks since she is so good on the technical stuff, it was really fast in places and I did what I could to keep up! The route takes us through a nature reserve where there is a compulsory portage for about 1km, Candice got blisters on her heels and we both got really tired legs after, I got cramps towards the end and I got a bit worried that the others were going to catch us! We were a bit different as cyclists, Candice was faster downhill and I was faster uphill, but we did the best of it and managed to keep Rob and Cath behind and won the stage!
Day 2: 67km 1300 meters climbing
Once again we started up a hill and we got away from the others, but then we could not hold on to a bunch and soon Robyn and Cathrine caught us with another bunch. Candice was tired today and we could not pass Robyn and Cath so when we got to the first technical stuff we were just behind them, we knew we had needed to be in front of them to be able to get away. We lost them on the next uphill and they just drifted away from us and it became a race against the clock for us. We had a frustrating day since we caught up with a group on the single tracks and had no where to pass but to sit behind them, but on the open roads they were stronger then us so we could never pass them. We could have caught up time if we had had a free run on the single tracks this day, and it was a lot of single tracks. The route on day 2 is amazing!! We came 2nd for the day and lost the overall lead and was now 48 seconds behind Robyn and Cathrine on GC.
It was a little confusing when we were divided into age groups, counted on the youngest person in the team, and each age group had a leader jersey. So we were in the purple jersey for “Open woman” since Candice is 23 years old and if you are under 30 you are considered open woman and Robyn and Cathrine were in the green jersey for Sub Vets. So even if we were 2nd overall we rode in a leaders jersey which made people think we were in the lead…
Day 3: 76km 1250 meters climbing
We had a bit of pressure on us this day, with only 48 seconds up to the win! It was hard from the start and Candice fell behind on the first uphill, we fought our way back to the bunch but we were hanging on at the back and eventually lost them. We caught up on the single tracks again and on the 8km long downhill gravel road, we caught up with them. When passing the first water point at Botrivier we were on their wheel and the 2 ladies teams were at the back of a big group of about 20 riders. Candice struggled to accelerate out of the many corners going through the township and we slowly lost the bunch, it was heart breaking to see the bunch with the other girls disappear, knowing that we had to do all the work ourselves. We were on our own for the rest of the race and every time we saw Robyn and Cath they were in a small bunch. It was mentally hard to see and we were trying hard, but when we had 20km to go and we got a time of 1.55 behind we gave up a bit cause did not think we could get any closer. When we came to the last water point I still saw them on the last long climb, and we got a bit of hope again. After the last long downhill we heard 55 seconds, so we had taken a minute on them. We pushed hard but when we only had a few kilometres left and we still could not see them it was all over.
Read more on Jennie’s website.
“What a journey it has been the last 7 days at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek, granted UCI status for the first time this year and attracted many top international riders!
I teamed up once again with Robyn De Groot, who I won Sani2C and PE2Plett with earlier this year, we ride very well together and without having to use many words we understand each other both on and off the bike! It is in difficult situations that you really see if you are a good team, we got tested a lot during this week, it started with great success and ended with some tough days. This is what happened…” – Jennie Stenerhag
Day 1: Prologue 15km at Buffelsdrift. #BuffelsBattle
“We started at 12 o’clock, when it was at its warmest! I do not know if I’ve ever been so nervous on a start line, my heart rate was already close to racing beats as they were counting down for us to start. My adrenaline went into my legs and I took off like a bullet, which I paid for closer to the end! We started as the last women’s team and after a few kilometers we passed the team who started in front of us, and after about 6km we passed the team that would become our biggest competition during the week, Cathrine Williamsson from England and Alice Pirard from Belgium, team Asrin. We managed the technical bits nicely and with a few kilometers left, we passed the team which started three minutes before us, Yolandi Du Toit from South Africa and Aurelie HALBWACHS from Mauritius, team Garmin. We gave everything at the end and won the prologue by 19 seconds ahead of Cherise Stander and Candice Neethling, team iRideforBurry. We were happy to start the proper stages in the pink leaders jersey!”
Day 2: Stage 1, Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp, 100km, 1600 meters climbing #RedstoneRumble
“We packed up all our stuff and moved in to our camper which would be our home for the next 5 nights and headed to the start in central Oudtshoorn, it was sunny and nice and would be a hot day, unlike this stage last year, which was the muddiest I have ever ridden in, so we were grateful for the heat! When the lead car let us go the race was in full swing and it was hard from the start. We got away as the first women’s team but did not find any good groups to sit in and were mostly on our own, I struggled to find my legs a bit. Soon Cathrine and Alice caught up with us together with a bunch, and a bit later when the track did a U turn and we saw other riders we could see Theresa Ralph (my Epic partner) and Esther Suss of team Meerendal, not far behind. We put the hammer down on the uphills and managed to get away from both teams. We saw Cathrine and Alice again during the course so we had to ride hard all the time because we did not know how far behind they were. Towards the end we had a really heavy uphill and I battled a bit but enjoyed the technical descent on the other side before the final 15 last kilometers on gravel road. It was difficult today to determine how much energy should be spent because tomorrow’s stage was the most important in the whole week! We won today’s stage with about 4.5 minutes over Cathrine and Alice.”
Day 3: Stage 2, Calitzdorp to the top of the Swartberg Pass, 87km, 2700 meters climbing #SwartbergShowdown
“R125.000 (9000 euros) for first place on today’s stage !! Nothing for second place! It is said that it is the MTB stage (or one-day race) with the largest prize money in the world. obviously we were a little extra nervous because we would love to win this stage! To win, we had to be first up the last hill, a climb of 10km with 1200 meters of ascent that finishes with an average gradient of about 12-15% over the last 3 kilometers!”
Very proud of these ladies! Jennie Stenerhag & Robyn de Groot winning the first four stages and an overall 2nd place at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek this year! And walking away with R125 000 as the #SwartbergShowdown queens of 2014!
Race report by Jennie Stenerhag coming soon!
Congratulations Jennie on your podium finish at the Karoo2Coast!
“Now it will be a few weeks of training before the Pioneer!” – Jennie Stenerhag
“On Sunday morning we packed up and drove to Uniondale and the start of Karoo2Coast, the temperature rose from 0 in Herold to 5 in Uniondale but at 8.00 when we started it felt warmer and we could leave the arm warmers in the car. The race begins with a rocky uphill for a few kilometres, I stayed with Robyn but lost her close to the top. I put the hammer down on the downhill and managed to catch her after a while. We were sitting in a good bunch of guys and since this is a bit of a road race it was difficult for anyone to get away. It goes up or down the whole time so my only chance to get away would be on the long 10km downhill after about 25km. I pushed hard down and got a gap of maybe a minute, but Robyn caught me again on the next long climb up to the Queen of the Mountain, which I managed to take! We were together until the last climb where she put in a real roadie attack, I was not prepared for it and my legs could not respond, I did not give up and tried my best but I could no catch her. I was still happy with my second place about a minute behind Robyn.
Robyn is very strong at the moment, and I felt stronger then at PE to Plett so I hope my form is on its way. We look forward to racing together again in Pioneer in about 3 weeks time, we will have some stiff competition from international teams there.
Craig also did very well at the race and finished 13th overall and first Vet! Well done honey!
Craig and I drove home on Sunday night and it was nice to sleep in our own bed after a 10-day trip where we moved around and slept in 6 different places!”
View more pictures of Jennie’s race at Karoo2Coast on her website.
CONGRATULATIONS to Jennie Stenerhag & Robyn de Groot! First Ladies an 5th overall at the PE to Plett stage race!
“PE to Plett was harder than we expected, it was 4 very good training days for us as a team, since distances and the terrain is very similar to the Cape Pioneer! We look forward to that race! Now it will be four days of rest before it is time for one of the classic MTB one-day races, Karoo2Coast, hope the legs will have enough time to recover!”
“It was a long trip I did from the Northenmost point in Norway to the Southern part of Africa last week Sunday/Monday, the trip went well and took just over 30 hours. I had 3 days in Stellenbosch to catch up with things before it was time to pack the bags (and car) and drive the 6 hours to Plettenberg Bay where the 4 days PE to Plett stage race started on Saturday. It was the second year for this race and last year it started in PE and finished in Plett, this year they turned the route around but kept the name. I was teaming up with Robyn De Groot again, we won Sani2C together in May and we will also do the Cape Pioneer together in October and we had decided to do the PE toPlett as a good trainingcamp together in preparation for the Pioneer.
The PetoPlett’s pay-off line is ”The Tough One” and it certainly lived up to that!!”
- Jennie Stenerhag
Read more about Day 1 to 4 here.