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Category: Race Report

Series Report: Subaru WC XCO Series 2016 from Bikehub.co.za

I have wanted to ride XCO since I first saw Burry Stander riding in the Olympics in 2012. Never mind that at the time I hadn’t touched a bike since I was nine years old- a trivial detail. To me XCO is the ultimate athletic achievement- it requires above average bike handling skills, strength and some crazy cardiovascular fitness.

This year I decided to live the dream, and with some trepidation, entered the Subaru WC XCO series. The first race at Rhebokskloof knocked my socks off. I had not imagined anything half as scary or as fun.

Attached Image: XCO Start line helderberg.jpg
Getting a good start is vital in XCO. Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock.

I can only describe it as a distillation of all the best bits of mountain biking: the sense of achievement you get from cresting a killer climb, combined with the reward of dealing with a tricky descent or a terrifying drop off. All experienced repeatedly, in a short space of time, without all the boring bits found in marathon racing. Every single line choice and decision made out on the course can mean the difference between coming out in front, or languishing at the back of the pack.

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Ariane Kleinhans attacking the Rhebokskloof course. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie | esphotography.co.za

The highs are high. The lows are low. I crashed. I was frequently terrified of the A-lines. I was pretty convinced I was going to have a heart attack on many of the climbs, and I was on more than one occasion put to shame by a ten-year-old. I also had to be rescued from the bushes after some over-enthusiastic cornering and found myself doubting my life choices while face down in the mud on a rainy Friday afternoon during course practice.

In short- XCO is brutal. That said, each time I got up from a fall, smashed an A-line, or reached the top of a hill alive, I felt so good that I forgot that I had ever been scared or sore, and couldn’t wait to try it all again. I have learned a lot about myself both psychologically and physically during the course of the series. XCO has been by far the most rewarding racing format that I have tried.

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The racing is fierce but friendly amongst the younger riders. Photo credit: WP MTB Commission.

On a more pragmatic note, if you are keen to brush up on your skills or work on your cardio, while enjoying a fun family event, the XCO series is an excellent way to spend a Saturday morning. Each event I attended ran smoothly, and the effort put into making the courses both challenging and rewarding was remarkable. There are usually B-lines for the less adventurous, and the lap format means that it is very spectator friendly, so you can drag your family and friends out to cheer you on (read: hold your bottles and feed you gels) and it is a lot of fun to watch the other categories race over a cold steri-stumpie afterwards.

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Cherie Redecker entering the A-line rock garden at Helderberg. Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock

It is also inspiring to see the number of young riders developing incredible skills racing these events. If they are anything to go by- the next generation will have far fewer bottlenecks on the single track at races.

Unfortunately, the WC XCO series is over for 2016, but there is one last event: the WC XCO Championships is scheduled for 28 May at Bloemendal. If nothing else it will force you out of your comfort zone, and teach you a thing or two about your limits- in the most enjoyable possible way.


Attached Image: XCO Kylie technical zone.JPG


Attached Image: XCO Gel.jpg

Knowing when to eat or drink (and having an attentive feeder) is a critical part of race strategy. Photo credit: Nicolé Dale Kuys

(Originally posted over at http://www.bikehub.co.za/features/_/articles/ride-reports/series-report-subaru-wc-xco-series-2016-r4463)

WP XCO #1: Photo Gallery added

I have added a couple of photos – OK more than a couple – from the race on Saturday. I have added this to the Gallery menu item.

We have more photos coming from our pro photographer.

Full race results should be posted by Wednesday.

Thanks for the awesome support from everyone over the weekend.

Event entries are up for this weekends race. A little more onerous than last time but will hopefully smooth out the registration this weekend.



WP Logo paths.ai

Note: Sprogs and Nippers will be distributed separately.


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Mark Moir 402

2 Xavier Scheepers 406

3 Allister Arenson 401


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Rossouw Bekker 719

2 Joshua De Freitas 710

3 Niel van Tonder 701


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Donovan Le Cok 303

2 Ryan Visser 304

3 Marthinus Kruger 301


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Daniel van der Walt 602

2 Luke Moir 603

3 Jamie Penfold 607


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Matthew Lombardi 219

2 Matthew Keyser 215

3 Manie Lubbe 216


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Simon Stiebjahn 8

2 Matthew Beers 1

3 Justin Tuck 20


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Helen Grobert 102

2 Mariske Strauss 101

3 Nophiwo Hala 105


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Allison Morton 774

2 Sonique Louw 771

3 Carla Steyn 775


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Carla Hollander 646

2 Stefke Tolmay 642

3 Julia Marx 641


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Leorine de Wet 372

2 Michelle van Aswegen 371


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Lolitha van Aard 451


Pos Name Surname Race Number

1 Linus van Onselen 582

2 Jimmy Mills 501

3 Christopher Kensley 581

WC Czech & Albstadt…A race report from Mariske Strauss

Originally posted on Mariske’s site over here. Mariske is one of our own. Her dad, Bryan, is the WC Commissioner and our track designer and general dogs body.

O my gosh I can’t believe its June already!

Okay so I am back home safe and sounds and thought I will take a quick minute or two to report back.

As many of you know this past two weekends what the 3rd and 4th rounds of the EU world cups. The first one was two weeks ago in Czech Republic.Image

What a trip, we took bit of a detour through Frankfurt…bit of a oops but arrived in Czech with our trusty motor home (Charlie 🙂 ). From there it was the usual story to get race ready…and trying to not think too much of the upcoming exams. Needless to say I wasn’t too successful at wiping Uni stress from my brain and must say this one was a little bit of a floppy race. It was almost like an out of body experience and it took me three laps to gather myself and get going…by that time I had lost a lot of places and I was 80%, very crappy feeling…but o well there was no times grovel over the bad result (that also happens) and my dad didn’t raise me to give up that easily 😉.

Next up was Albstadt, and I was super fired up and ready for action. The track was pretty similar to the previous years and must say there is just no way to describe how steep it is 🙂.

Anyway prep went well and before I knew it race day arrived. EXCITING…

With the lap being a little shorter, and faster, than last year we had a superb 7 laps waiting for us…ouch.

I must say that I don’t think those prerace jitters ever really goes away, think you just get used to dealing with it. So with my butterflies fluttering around my tummy and the race vibe consuming every other thought in your mind we lined up.

After the race started everything seemed to slot into place.  I kept calm and tried not to focus too much on the riders around me, you see this track is pretty much single track…with some sections being just wide enough to squeeze past but that being said on one side you have a wall and on the other there was a sheer drop, so passing in the single trImageack is a little silly (which one girl soon realised when she was pushed off the track by the rider she tried to pass haha, see you even get in race entertainment!) So needless to say overtaking in the single track is a no no , unless you come up at Mach 4 and surprise attack them the flats were the best bet for a pass 🙂, and that what I did… mach 4 ‘ed them on my trusty Poly-GONE haha , kidding I just did that once the rest were on the jeep track sections 😛. Before I knew it we were out on our last lap…unfortunately my engine was fading a bit but luckily my amazing Swable rocket rons helped keep me gripping to the finish I unfortunately just didnt have the legs to stay with the German rider that caught me on the last lap which meant a 23rd spot in the end.

I am super thankful to everyone that has helped me and keeps offering me support. I can not thank you all enough! Orange Monkey Pro team thanks for all the tech support, Shimano for the amazing equipment Polygon…keeping me going forward, Swable for keeping me rubber side down 🙂. Then MASSIVE thanks to my amazing coach ! Jeroen I can’t imagine training with anyone else the professionalism support and scientific approach to training is just second to none, thanks for  all the help, cant wait to see what we can achieve 🙂

Then lastly, my family and friends…YOU ARE AMAZING!!! Thanks so much for loving and having my back so blessed :)!!

Till next time…now to go kill some exams YES!! 😉 

Keep it safe out there in the cold wet winter ( o and by the way if you are looking for phone cases to ride with this winter go check out OverBoardAfrica…awesome product! ) 

M 🙂