The third annual 2017 Fedhealth MTB Challenge will take place on 16 and 17 September at Boschendal in the Franschhoek Valley. With the new venue comes new routes. Routes that are incredibly scenic. Routes that are memorable. Routes that will challenge and reward participants. Who better to get pre-race advice from than 2016 men’s champion, Erik Kleinhans of the Topeak Ergon Team?
You have raced in and around Boschendal before. What do you think makes it a good venue for the Fedhealth MTB Challenge?
Boschendal is a beautiful venue with mountains that surround you, many big, shady trees and lovely green lawns. And in the past couple of years it’s become home to some of the best trails in the Western Cape. It’s going to be a real treat for participants, both those who have ridden the event before and those riding it for the first time.
For the 28km event, there is a total of 800 metres of climbing with the biggest climb coming shortly after the start. What is your advice for the participants in this event?
When the biggest climb is early on, you tend to ride it a bit hard because you still feel quite fresh. Rather stay within your limits on the first climb so that you have enough left in the tank for the rest of the route, which has its fair share of smaller climbs and singletrack, which can really tire you out if you’re not careful.
For the 60km race, there is 1900m of vertical ascent, with three big climbs throughout the route and a very long descent to the finish. What’s your advice for the participants in this event?
When you tackle a 60km event with that much climbing you will probably know how to pace yourself sensibly. But one thing you must be mindful of is keeping your energy levels topped up. With a number of climbs and lots of singletrack, it can be easy to forget to eat and drink. One thing you lose when you run low on energy is your ability to focus. So make sure you drink and eat whenever you get a chance. That last descent is long, but it will be important to be focussed there and not crash.
There is a high percentage of singletrack in both the 28km and 60km event. What is the best way to tackle singletrack?
When an event has so much singletrack the best thing is to be prepared for it. Either do a skills clinic or ride often on singletrack leading up to the event to make sure you’re confident on narrow, twisty trails. During the race, make sure you stay focussed on the trail ahead of you. Avoid the temptation to look around at the beautiful scenery. If you do want to enjoy the scenery, rather stop at an appropriate spot (off the trail) and have a look around and take photos. But when you’re on the trail, be in the zone and focus on looking ahead so that you can anticipate the twists and turns and be smoother.
There are still a few spots available for those that haven’t yet entered. In addition to stimulating 28km and 60km events, the Fedhealth MTB Challenge also offers a 15km Fun Race, and kiddies events over 500 metres (0-5 years), 1.5km (6-9 years) and 5km (10-13 years). These take place over two days to ensure that all family members can enjoy the event, both on the bike and off it.
Boschendal’s culinary reputation is unmatched, so expect to enjoy access to fine wine, cold craft beer and sumptuous foods. You can book a picnic in advance to secure your post-ride spot under the generous shade of the magnificent Boschendal trees.
The first 1000 entrants will receive a complimentary commemorative event t-shirt and all entrants in the 15km, 28km and 60km events will get a goodie bag. There’s a free post-event massage for all entrants and a Fedhealth Kids Zone with child minders to ensure parents get time to enjoy the riding. Fedhealth members get a free event entry and access to the Fedhealth VIP Zone.
To enter, or for more information, head to Fedhealth MTB Challenge