Dyfi Enduro

Tyrrell and I are entered under the rothar.com racing banner at the 2007 howies Dyfi Enduro. This will be held in Machynlleth, Mid-Wales on Sunday May 6th 2007. The start time is 11am. There’s a load more information over at the official website. It’s the 6th year of the racem, but it’ll be my first. The route is about 60km long and involves around 1500m of climbing and descending. There will be a free well stocked feed station at around half way and plenty of marshals.

After stepping in at the 11th hour last year as title sponsor, a few of the Howies team came up to ride the enduro last year. They went away knackered, covered in mud, but with big grins on their faces. The organisers must be doing something right, because they told them they wanted to continue to support the event. What could be better? Awesome prizes, from a company just down the road. Along with Howies, Formula brakes, Trek Bicycles, Topeak tools, Continental Tyres, Endura Clothing and HiFive energy products support the event by providing heaps of prizes.

Expensive Business Mountain Bike Racing…

Sorted out a bit more admin ahead of the race over the last week or so. Here’s a running tally of the costs…

Cape Epic Entry Fee: £425
Transponder deposit: £35
Return Flight to South Africa: £445
Medical Clearance from the GP: £14
Travel and Race Insurance: £105

So there’s the costs of getting about when we arrive (we’re going to have to drive from Cape Town up to Port Elizabeth and then back down to Knysna for the start) and all the other faffing about in terms of making sure that we’re ready.

Road Trippin’

We’re off to Wales this weekend riding in and around Afan Forest Park. Afan Argoed and Glencorrwg will be our training venue and for me it’ll be a chance to catch up with Charlie and Sally who I met on the Transalp over the summer.

Next Thursday night we’re off again, heading up to the Scottish Borders with Neil and Lardy where we’ll be based for two days. From there we’ll be riding Dalbeattie, Mabie, Kirroughtree and Ae before heading over towards Peebles for day three to ride in the Tweed valley, namely Glentress and Innerleithen. That’s most of the 7Stanes trails in three days.


Downloaded the Medical Questionnaire and Liability Disclaimer today from the website and paid the ZAR500 (£35) Transponder Deposit.

What blood type am I? What my blood pressure? I reckon a trip to the Docs is in order. Hell, I even have the name and phone number of the official race Doctor now. This isn’t like racing Mountain Mayhem that’s for sure.

The other night I even dreamt about the race and the few days after arriving before the start. Today Tyrrell and I discussed what we’re going to do and where we’re going to stay before and afters too. It’s going to be ace!

Gonna’ Work It Out

Been updating the racing pages recently. Tyrrell and I are Circuit Training twice a week now and we chatted to one of our colleagues who was taking the class today and she convinced us to come and try the Monday weights session too. We’re going to get fit for this race in South Africa and that is for sure. Talking of which it seems last years race wan’t all sunshine…

Cape Epic gets Wet

From the 2006 Cape Epic Race race.

The Route

From Knysna to Lourensford. Total distance: 886km. Total ascent: 15045m
Stage 1: Knysna – Uniondale

Distance: 101km

Ascent: 2660m
The Jewel of the Garden Route, Knysna, once again hosts the start of the Absa Cape Epic, with the route heading out on familiar roads into the lush indigenous forest for the first 50km. Riders then experience the first new element of the 2007 route heading north instead of west at this point. Hilly open-road riding replaces the cool cover of the forest with no shelter from the elements. The major obstacle for the day will be the 12km climb over Prince Alfred’s pass – complete with a gut-wrenching false crest two kilometres short of the real thing – and then it is into the heat of the Klein Karoo, finishing over a rocky historic Wagon Trail into the town of Uniondale.

Stage 2: Uniondale – Oudtshoorn

Distance: 132km

Ascent: 2245m
The start out of Uniondale is gentle, a rolling affair on open roads as the Absa Cape Epic follows the Kamanassie River. For some forty kilometres, riders will enjoy the scenery of this spectacular area, before turning right and begining their assault on the Kamanassie Nature Reserve. 35km of back-breaking off-road riding follows, starting with a twelve kilometre rocky jeep track with over 800m climbing at an average of 6.6%. After a treacherously lose rocky descent, the final 50-odd km into Oudtshoorn will be fast and fun, and if the wind is favorable it will push the riders all the way home after the 2007 Absa Cape Epic’s longest day.

Stage 3: Oudtshoorn – Ladismith

Distance: 128km

Ascent: 2425m
Oudtshoorn bids the riders of the Absa Cape Epic farewell, and almost immediately they are faced with fast jeep track through arid, ostrich-filled plains, a mild start to the toughest climbing day of the 2007 event. The speedy start grinds to a crawl after 40km at Fielie’s Folly where riders climb 430m at an average 14%! The good news is that there is a fun, fast, open descent on the other side and almost 30km of recovery time before the Calitzdorp Crusher looms, offering another 3km of brutal stony jeep track, before the riders descend to the foot of the Huis Rivier pass. 8km of grind upwards on the tar later, the route turns onto pleasant jeep tracks through picturesque apple orchards, followed by 30km of rolling open graded gravel roads into the finish at Ladismith.

Stage 4: Ladismith – Barrydale

Distance: 121km

Ascent: 1285m
After arguably the hardest start to the Absa Cape Epic ever, day four is a relatively easier rest day, but still holds its own challenges. The roll out of Ladismith is on tar for 6km, before the riders turn right and head onto farm roads of the area. Wide open roads, short climbs and a few technical obstacles will give the Epic entrants time to regroup and recuperate, before entering the Leopard Rock game reserve, where sandy jeep tracks and perplexed wildlife await. Then it is onto more rocky terrain for the final 25km into Barrydale.

Stage 5: Barrydale – Montagu

Distance: 102km

Ascent: 1590m
The route out of Barrydale promises to be spectacular with the first 40km crisscrossing the scenic farms in the valley, before the riders of the Absa Cape Epic are asked to find their climbing legs once more as they head up a challenging 5km singletrack climb to the top of the Op De Tradouw pass. From this summit, all roads point down until the race enters the moonscape valley leading to the Wolfieskop Pass, which climbs 430m in 7km, before sending riders on a helter skelter ride down the other side on the best descent of the 2007 route. The roll into Montagu is fast and not too taxing and the welcome will be warm.

Stage 6: Montagu – Villiersdorp

Distance: 111km

Ascent: 1565m
After a blistering 5km tar start through Cogmanskloof, the race leaves Montagu and heads into the farmlands of the lush Robertson valley, be warned the rolling hills and fun descents are riddled with thorns, so riders best come prepared! Exiting the farmland, the riders have a scenic 25km tar section before heading up the day’s big challenge, a 6km hike-a-bike section riders will remember from the 2005 Epic, followed by open roads and fast descents all the way to the foot of Rooihoogte. Locals beware: in true Epic tradition the route does not take the easy way along the tar road to the finish in Villiersdorp, but a more tortuous route to the radio mast above the town, before descending for a good night’s rest.

Stage 7: Villiersdorp – Kleinmond

Distance: 116km

Ascent: 1990m
Leaving Villiersdorp on the Absa Cape Epic can only mean one thing: a visit to one of its favourite sons, Groenlandberg. The good news for 2007 is that the riders in the Epic will only face about two thirds of this monster climb before turning left and enjoying a long stretch of rolling jeep track through natural fynbos. A gradual climb takes the riders up and over the mountain before they get to enjoy a roller coaster descent into the Lebanon forest area where fire roads and cool shady forests await. After this all-too-short forest section, a quick dip under the N2 and soon you will be rewarded with panoramic ocean views before descending into the sleepy coastal town of Kleinmond.
Stage 8: Kleinmond – Lourensford

Distance: 75km

Ascent: 1285m
The final day of the 2007 Absa Cape Epic starts from Kleinmond crossing the Palmiet River on a short and fast tar start, before turning right into the Kogelberg nature reserve riding alongside the Palmiet river on jeep track up and over the mountain, riders pass through the apple orchards of Elgin and Grabouw as the route works its way to the summit of Sir Lowry pass. Here, riders will be forced to portage their bikes for about a kilometre down slippery rocks that still bear the marks of the Voortrekker wagon wheels, not for their safety, but because the Gamtou pass is a national heritage site and special permission has been given for the first time to descend this historic track. After dropping onto the railway line for a fun, bumpy few kilometres, it’s into the magnificent Lourensford Wine Estate for the all-new Absa Cape Epic finish, where riders will collect their medals, and return, for a year, to a life outside the Absa Cape Epic.

The Towns

Garden Route

Knysna – South Africa’s favourite town
Registration and Race Start: 23 – 24 March 2007
Last Year Visited: 2006
Number of Previous Visits: 3

Welcome to Knysna, the first stage of the Absa Cape Epic! This location is a perfect starting point for the race with its striking scenery, serene beaches and flourishing Knysna Forest, which is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa. Be prepared to ride alongside small antelope, a wealth of colourful birds and maybe even the Knysna elephant that still roam wild in the forest. This vibrant town is alive with outdoor enthusiasts and is regarded the mountain biking Mecca of South Africa. Knysna town is famous for its delicious oysters and maintains its colourful diversity through its unique coffee shops, restaurants and craft shops. Try to catch a glimpse of the colorful Knysna Loerie while riding through this charming seaside village.

Official Website : www.visitknysna.com
Tourism Info : knysna.tourism@pixie.co.za or +27 (0)44 382 5510
Accommodation booking : booking@mweb.co.za or +27 (0)44 382 6960

Uniondale – Uniting our people through tourism
Stage location 1 – 24 March 2007
Last Year Visited: –
Number of Previous Visits: 0

This mountain paradise is situated between the Baviaanskloof, Langkloof and Kammanassie mountain ranges and provides an unspoiled gateway to these areas. Follow the awe-inspiring Prince Alfred’s Pass through indigenous forest and past waterfalls cascading into crystal clear rock pools. The pass was designed and built by Thomas Baines and still has the original hand packed stone retaining walls. At the top of the pass you reach the Langkloof area at Avontuur well know for growing export quality apples. A ride through the scenic Uniondale poort with magnificent rock formations and ancient San rock art will bring you to the quaint Klein Karoo town of Uniondale. Through the efforts of a group of committed Uniondale townsfolk, who are prepared to put shoulder to the wheel, they are managing to turn the tide of change and unite all their people. Celebrate this diversity, enjoy and experience their unique country hospitality, quaint restored buildings and local arts and crafts.

Official Website : www.uniondale.co.za
Tourism Info : tourism@uniondale.co.za
Accommodation booking : tourism@uniondale.co.za or +27 (0)44 752 1266

Oudtshoorn – Big bird country
Stage location 2 – 25 March 2007
Last Year Visited: –
Number of Previous Visits: 0

Oudtshoorn is the Ostrich capital of the World and home to the spectacular Cango Caves. The town is the commercial hub of the great Klein Karoo region and is situated in a beautiful wide valley between the Outeniqua and Swartberg Mountains. Besides mountain biking the surrounding area offers many outdoor attractions including hiking trails, caving, abseiling, rock climbing, quad biking, hot air ballooning, eco tours, driving across historical passes, birding, to mention but a few. Oudtshoorn now also offers unique bush safaris experiences and game viewing at a number of up-market game lodges situated just outside the town.

Official Website : www.oudtshoorn.com
Tourism Info : www.oudtshoorninfo.com or +27 (0)44 279 2532
Accommodation booking : www.oudtshoorninfo.com +27 (0)44 279 2532

Ladismith – “Lady” of the Klein Karoo
Stage location 3 : 26 March 2007
Last Year Visited: –
Number of previous visits: 0

Ladismith, is situated at the foot of the Klein Swartberg mountain range, with the split peaked Towerkop looming above the town. It lies in the very core of an area housing all three biodiversity “hotspots” in South Africa (Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Subtropical thicket biomes). This picturesque town boasts a variety of architectural styles and is the centre for a prosperous farming community. Its unpolluted air, blue skies at day and bright stars at night will ensure a well-deserved rest after the grueling stage from Oudtshoorn.

Official Website : www.ladismith.org.za
Tourism Info : visit@ladismith.org.za or +27 (0)28 551 1378
Accommodation booking : visit@ladismith.org.za or +27 (0)28 551 1378

Barrydale – An artistic community
Stage location 4 : 27 March 2007
Last year visited: 2005
Number of Previous Visits: 2

We would like you to have lasting memories of your Barrydale experience – perhaps an unforgettable hike into the surrounding mountains, or a drive into the awe-inspiring Tradouw Pass, or after a stroll around the village to see the wonderful gardens, sitting outside at sunset listening to the calls of the Hadeda Ibis as they return to their roots, and admiring the view of the surrounding hills – possibly accompanied by a glass of one of the excellent local wines. As a refuge from our increasingly strident urban life, Barrydale’s peace is bound to restore your spirits.

Official Website : www.barrydale.co.za
Tourism Info : info@barrydale.co.za or +27 (0) 28 572 1572
Accommodation booking : info@barrydale.co.za or +27 (0) 28 572 1572

Montagu – Oasis of the Western Cape
Stage location 5: 28 March 2007
Last year visited: 2005
Number of Previous Visits: 1

A hearty welcome to Montagu – SA’s favourite Village, stage location winner of the 2005 Absa Cape Epic and the Jewel of the Klein Karoo! With superb mountain scenery, fresh Karoo air, friendly atmosphere and perfectly situated halfway between Cape Town and the Garden Route, Montagu is ideal for a breakaway. Together with their famous hot springs and tractor rides, Montagu offers many outdoor activities including rock-climbing, mountain biking, 4X4, fishing, kloofing, plus history, art and culture. Not to mention our splendid wines and food! Relax and enjoy great Karoo hospitality!

Official Website : www.tourismmontagu.co.za
Tourism Info : manager@montagu-ashton.info or +27 (0)23 614 2471
Accommodation booking : info@montagu-ashton.info or +27 (0)23-614 2471

Villiersdorp – A tranquil town
Stage location 6: 29 March 2007
Last year visited: 2005
Number of Previous Visits: 1

Villiersdorp is known as the Pearl of the Overberg. It nestles in a rich valley surrounded by lush farmlands, spectacular mountains and the magnificent Theewaterskloof Dam. The 9-hole golf course is situated next to the dam, while on the water one can enjoy pleasure cruises, fishing and most other water sports.

Villiersdorp also offers tractor tours, camping, B&B and self-catering facilities, restaurants, and wine tasting. For the more adventurous, there are wonderful 4×4 routes and hiking trails in the surrounding Blokkop, Aasvoël and Sneeukop Mountains. The town was established in 1843 by field-cornet Peter de Villiers and when a request was made to the Governor of the Cape for a name to keep the French origin, he called it De Villiers Dorp..

Official Website : www.overberg.co.za
Tourism Info : no Tourism Office
Accommodation booking : no Tourism Office

Kleinmond – Where the whales play and wild flowers bloom
Stage location 7: 30 March 2007
Last year visited: –
Number of Previous Visits: 0

Nestling in this unique area of Hanglip-Kleinmond lie the towns of Rooiels -where you can catch the sun setting over False Bay while enjoying “sundowners”, Pringle Bay – which hosts a Craft Market the first Saturday morning of each month and where you can bodysurf at the beach before feasting on fresh fish or joining the locals for a drink and Betty’s Bay where you can go and visit the penguin colony around sunset. With visiting and inhabiting this Biosphere area come responsibilities and the principles of sustained development are followed, while still offering a host of adventures as well as relaxing holidays.

Official Website : www.kleinmond.com
Tourism Info : www.ecoscape.org.za
Accommodation booking : info@ecoscape.org.za or +27 (0)28 271 5657

Lourensford Wine Estate
Stage 8: Race Finish 31 March 2007
Last year visited: –
Number of Previous Visits: 0

Lourensford, established in the year 1700 is arguably one of the most beautiful wine estates in the world. Steeped in history and heritage, the estate also boasts an ultra-modern winery utilising technology unique in the Southern Hemisphere. The magnificent soils and diverse microclimates create the ideal terroir (a sense of place) for world-beating wines. Lourensford is fast becoming one of the biggest wine estates in South Africa, with over 300 hectares of vines already planted.

Lourensford’s scenic splendor has made it a popular location for many local and international film shoots, starring some of Hollywood’s top actors. The estate hosts annual sporting and cultural events with thousands of participants and spectators, it’s also a sought after venue for wedding receptions and corporate functions. There’s a sizeable equestrian establishment on the estate, with stabling as well as one of the only two polo fields in Cape Town, it is here that the sport of kings is practiced and enjoyed.

Official Website : www.lourensford.co.za
Tourism Info : www.somersetwest.com
Accommodation booking : +27 (0)21 851 4022


Circuit training today at lunchtime at the University’s Sugden Centre was a good workout. Tyrrell and I are back their on Friday for another session and then we’re riding both days this weekend. Circuits twice a week for the remainder of the build up to the race should helps us boost our base level fitness ahead of the race. Gilly and Keeks are flying out to South Africa this week to prepare the ground so to speak, leaving us to focus on getting fit for the race.

A South African Perspective

The Epic is drawing nearer and Cris and I are looking to put some decent bike time into the legs. We have been debating the best way for me to tackle the UK winter as my ‘stumpy’ was taken a beating. We looked at some options and after much deliberation decided to build up a single speed. Hence the spunky looking red speed demon on the main page. Thanks to the boyz at sideways cycles the frame and forks were organized and my man Cris put in some good time and spares getting her together. So how does she ride, dam she is smooth and rolling resistance is really good. I was also surprised by the weight, I know there are fewer working parts etc but she really finished up good.

Hit the road for the ride home on Thursday night and dam I felt like my old SA days fitted with my spandex doing spinning classes. It takes a bit of getting used to but after a while settled into a good cadence and hit the traffic home. Taken on Manchester traffic on a single takes on a new meaning. Best part was my first curb hop. Now please to those thinking of going rigid, take my word for it and take head, try a few easy rides first before taken on the traffic. There I was doing my usual beat the oncoming traffic to the opposite side of the road to hop a curb when the first action of pushing down nearly took my teeth out then putting all my energy into pulling up which resulted in me nearly ripping my arms out of their sockets not to mention my feet coming out the cleats. Now picture it, me trying to show I’m the man taken on the traffic with my new stead while smiling at some hotties that happen to be on the street corner with the bike on some funny angle, my legs practically around my ears and the fence on the opposite side careering towards me. Trust me, highly over rated. Anyway somehow managed to survive that one, dignity in tow and headed home. Once I hit the dirt it was all good, Alty came up quick with few scars to show.

Come Sunday I decided to give the new single a good spin on the dirt roads. I chose to go down the Trans Penine trail out towards Lymm and onwards. Dropped in at ‘Bike Shak’ and got me a pair of mud flaps. Now yes I know the manic primal instinct of the mountain Biker with a motto of ‘Dirtier the better’ means this goes against the grain, but riding to work and looking like The swamp thing made me see the errors of my ways. To be honest I used my Beanie more for concealment rather than warmth. I did not have the tools to fit it there and then so packed them into the bag and hit the trail. Night before was an absolute cloud burst so the trail was as muddy and wet as Iv ever seen it. After 50m on the trail me; my newly cleaned and sparkling bike; my father in-laws carry bag were one with the mud & yes Horse riders use the trail so there be some nasty stuff in da mud combination. So I thought what the heck, let’s at least put the mud flap under the front wheel to test as it uses a bungee cord. Boy was I surprised just how well it worked. I rode the rest of the ride with not one more speck of mud on my glasses & I’m talking serious muddy conditions. My ass looked like shit but the mud flap worked.

Thanks to Cris im styling with my new single commuting to work and back. She is a really good ride. I now no longer can take on the Oxford buses and roadies with ease, but with the single it is now a challenge. Thx Guys..