Post Epic, what now?

For a large number of South African mountain bikers the ABSA Cape Epic, and the races building up to it, is the most important part of the season, says Erik Kleinhans. But after the Epic the season goes on, so there’s hardly a time for a breather.

We are very lucky to have an almost endless number of MTB races to choose from in our mountain bike crazy country, so you can’t let your socks down for long because there are always other goals on the horizon.

For most of the RECM team the Ashburton Investments National Marathon Series is the next focus point, with the Clarens and Van Gaalens races coming up fast (Ed: Erik placed 7th in Clarens, while Nico shattered his rear derailleur and Ariane meanwhile continued her dominance by claiming victory). The Van Gaalens race on the 6th of June also doubles as the SA XCM championships, so it’s doubly important. Plus there are also a few stage races on our radars like the Arabella Challenge (Ed: Erik and Ariane both claimed solo victories), Sani2c and the RECM Knysna 200, all of which are very important to us.

Erik is looking to put the disappointment of crashing out of the 2014 Sani2c behind him. Photo by Full Stop Communications.
Erik is looking to put the disappointment of crashing out of the 2014 Sani2c behind him. Photo by Full Stop Communications.

For our young XCO racer, James Reid, this time of the year is vitally important as he aims to claim as many UCI points as possible for Olympic qualification. In May he jets off to the African MTB Champs in Rwanda while in the SA XCO Championships take place in our beloved home town, Stellenbosch, in July.

With such busy calendars how do you maintain focus and motivation after the Cape Epic? Well it depends from rider to rider, but personally I’ve always taken the first few months of the season very seriously. In the second half of the season, it has sometimes been a struggle for me to get going and I’ve felt in the past that my results didn’t quite live up to the form I felt I had.

And these days there is the extra pressure of managing our team successfully which of course includes finances, logistics, media and equipment – it’s quickly starting to take up all of my valuable time outside of training. Generally I’m really enjoying the challenge; it stimulates the mind and offers other goals. Though I must admit that after a busy block of racing, like after the Epic, it is easy to fall behind…

Erik racing to 7th in the National MTB Series race in Clarens in May. Photo by Zoon Cronje | Nikon
Erik racing to 7th in the National MTB Series race in Clarens in May.
Photo by Zoon Cronje | Nikon

Beyond the admin, I’m a rider who likes to listen to my body when I’m feeling a bit off or negative, I take it as a sign that I need a few more days of recovery. But there is a fine line between being really tired and just being lazy. It’s certainly never nice to have to hurt yourself doing Franschhoek Pass intervals!

I guess it all comes down to goals again. For me, this year, I’m targeting the Sani2c and the SA XCM Champs in a big way. They are two races I’ve always wanted to win. The results are important to me personally, but I am also aware that our sponsors also expect us to deliver good results.

The goals have always pressed me from pedalling for fun into a hardworking routine, and I’ve written before about how the first few days back in training can be hell… but there is also something so satisfying about coming home after a hard day of training! Now let’s hold thumbs that I’ve given myself enough recovery time to allow me to reach my goals for the rest of the season!

How can you not be looking forward to Sani with scenes like these on the horizon? Photo by Jon Ivins
How can you not be looking forward to Sani with scenes like these on the horizon?
Photo by Jon Ivins

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