Muscle memory

Team Dan and Shane getting into saddles early in the morning

Team Dan and Shane getting into saddles early in the morning


This past week was all about getting back into the training regime after a bit of family time over December for our teams. If you are MTB training in the Western Cape, perhaps you can discover some tips and where is good for what sort of training from Robert Vogel.




“This past weekend was all about getting back on the bike and spinning the legs. It’s amazing how quickly the body remembers! Muscle memory.

2 consecutive days on the road bike, riding from home to the top of Chapman’s Peak and back. This is a great training route with flat sections and steady climbs, most notably, the long Chappies ascent and Suikerbossie on the way back. I can feel the cycling legs coming back, but the sensible option is to take it easy and not get ahead of yourself.

Amanda popped in for a visit on Saturday and we got reacquainted with each other after a year’s absence. It was all good and we’re keen to race.

My training schedule arrived by Email over the weekend and it looks tough!

Monday was day 1 and all that was required was a 1,5 hour “recovery ride” in heart rate zone 2. In other words, nice and easy with a high cadence.

Tuesday was a rest day, but this morning started with a bang. 10 intervals for 2 minutes each at maximum output with a 1minute rest in between!

I left the house early this morning, at about 5:45am to get the intervals done before our Wednesday morning coffee ride. The jeep track from Vredehoek to the King’s Blockhouse is the perfect route to do intervals on. Not that intervals are ever enjoyable.

Going forward, the training schedule follows a predictable pattern. Short, intense sessions during the week and long hours in the saddle over the weekend. During the few “rest days” off the bike, I will try and go to the gym to do some Pilates for my lower back and some strength training. Running a bit will also help since we do spent a fair amount of time pushing our bikes during the Cape Epic.”

Team Hansgrohe Mixed is back!

Lourensford (3)So, in case you hadn’t noticed – Rob’s team mate for ABSA Cape Epic 2015 has changed. After Lara suffered some lower back challenges, Robert is teaming it up with Amanda Brooks once again – we look forward to this strong team doing us proud in March 2015. He recently returned from his vacation in Germany and is now hitting his program really hard. Here’s how currently sees the way forward in terms of on the bike nutrition, training tips and team support.

“The 2014 edition of the Cape Epic as part of Team Hansgrohe was a fantastic experience. Everything came together for my partner Amanda and I. We had great team spirit, great team support, no mechanicals and we achieved our race goal.

 How do you top that? I didn’t really want to think about it and “forgot” about the Epic for a year. But here it is again! Only 2 months away!

 Even though I started training at the end of November, I knew that this time things would be a little different. I was heading overseas on a family holiday for 3 weeks and there were no bikes allowed.Training for the 2014 Epic, I went right through Christmas and New Year, doing some big sessions along the way.

A total break off the bike would definitely do more good than harm and when I arrived back home last week, I was itching to get back on the bike. Amanda is already in the Cape, having arrived from the UK shortly after New Year. We will be fine. There is still plenty of time to train together and be ready for the Epic.

 We are both riding the Tankwa Trek from 13 -15 February. These three days in Ceres on the Kaleo Guest Farm should give us a good indication of our fitness levels.

 As far as nutrition is concerned, nothing much will change for me. Do what you know and what you’re used to. During races, I can’t chew on a bar while I’m riding. I’m hot and uncomfortable, most likely breathing heavily and sweating while trying to negotiate a trail. I prefer something liquid that I can just “swig” down and be done with in seconds.

What works for me is Ensure. It’s basically a meal replacement for older people or people that cant feed themselves. It comes in powder form (you can buy it at Clicks and it’s much cheaper than any of the fancy sports nutrition brands) and you mix it with water. 200ml of Ensure will last for a 4-5 hour stage. One generous sip every 45minutes. It works like a bomb. I have no energy dips and don’t really need to eat anything at the water stations. I’ll chew on some apple pieces of watermelon for something fresh. That get’s me through an Epic stage.

 I’ll start using our Team Hansgrohe race kit from now and make sure it’s nicely ridden in before the Prologue. Same goes for new shoes, gloves and helmet. I want everything to feel comfortable by the time we hit the start line.

 Amanda and my team tactics are simple. We take care of each other and open our mouths if there is something bothering either of us. Communicate!
We ride together and we start conservatively. If we’re feeling good after Stage 4, we can increase the tempo. You do more damage in the first 2 days of the Epic and if you’re too enthusiastic out of the blocks, you may find yourself going backwards later on.

 Most of all, we will enjoy the Epic. It’s a real treat to be riding it again and I know we will make some friends along the way.”

Drama, drama, drama. The 2015 Absa Cape Epic is here.

IMG_4851The route was leaked by a cloud server hack. We heard it dubbed the “Cape Town to Cape Town”. And, apparently, a rider who logged the media preview ride of the Prologue on Strava will never be able to ride the Absa Cape Epic again.

Ahead of the gala event to launch the route for the 2015 Absa Cape Epic there was nothing but drama. But then, this is the world’s greatest mountain biking stage race so (whether or not there’s any truth to these stories) we would’ve been surprised if there’d been no buzz at all. Continue reading

TeamHansgrohe 2015

Team Hansgrohe rider Robert Vogel has Amabubesi membership. Read about our other team members and their credentials

Team Hansgrohe rider Robert Vogel has Amabubesi membership. Read about our other team members and their credentials

Hansgrohe Africa enters our fourth official year as shower accessories sponsor for the ABSA Cape Epic 2015. We are proud to announce our new team to you. There are some old faces and some new faces in the teams for this year. There should be some friendly banter between the teams at the event, but before this, our riders will have to train hard to earn their spots in the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic which takes place from 15 – 22 March. Without further ado, here are the teams:

 Leon & David
This Joburg based duo have teamed up and are training hard for a good position in the Masters category. Having the right partner is everything and these two certainly are starting off on a good foot. We look forward to seeing how training in the thin air up in Johannesburg pays off when they are down in the Cape.

Dan & Shane
2015 will be the fourth Epic for Dan and each one has been a unique experience. Shane Turner joins Dan Forsyth for the first time in this Epic partnership. These two physically strong riders should be fun to watch as they both seem to have a somewhat light-hearted outlook to mountain biking – and I quote “every ride is like I am back in the sandpit ……. I just get to ride the toys now.” says Shane

Robert & Lara
Team Hansgrohe’s only mixed team, Robert Vogel and Lara Woolley are also a new Epic combo. Robert insists on riding with the ladies and I think it is because they push him up the hills – just kidding. Lara’s face is still new to us, but she is no stranger to mountain biking “When I am not at work, I am on my bike, balancing and de-stressing.” says Lara. Robert completed his third Epic in 2014, receiving his Amabubesi membershipA mixed team is always something special to watch, so keep an eye out for this team.

Wynand & Bryan
A totally new team was born this year into TeamHansgrohe. Strangers to each other, Wynand Schabort and Bryan Charters should bond over their common profession of architecture, but there will be no time for that during the race! As much as these two love their mountain biking, they should surely learn to love inter-city travel too as they reside about 1400km apart from each other – Bryan residing in Centurion and Wynand being a Capetonian. We are proud to be supporting these two gentlemen.

Well, now that we have introduced you to our four new teams for 2015, we will leave the judging up to you. Keep an eye out for the Route Launch for the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic, happening on 22 October. Read more about our team stats on the Team page.

Hansgrohe commended again by ABSA Cape Epic

The red carpet was out to welcome us to the awards evening.

The red carpet was out to welcome us to the awards evening.

On Tuesday 10th June 2014, the ABSA Cape Epic awards dinner was held at the Steenberg Golf Club. I was invited along with my manager, Sino and the agency, Derrick. I was unable to attend the day’s workshop which involved networking with sponsors and the new charities for 2015 ABSA Cape Epic. The evening consisted out of thanks and the awards dinner.

As race founder Kevin Vermaak said in his speech at the dinner, it was both humbling and flattering to associate with so many of South Africa’s leading brands.

Congratulations goes to:

• Hansgrohe and Miele for winning the Best Cross Marketing Award;
• Sasol for the Best Debut Sponsorship award;
• Absa for the Best Ride Guide Advert and Campaign award;
• Tracker and Oakley for sharing the Innovation Award;
• Yahsat for winning Founders Award;
• And last, but certainly not least to Woolworths, who walked away with the Best Sponsor Service Award for the second year running.

I am very pleased that we walked away with the Best Cross-Marketing Award for the second year in a row. It felt like a bit of an after thought last year as we do not get a physical award, but this year, competing against all the other brands and with a trophy up for grabs, it felt like the Oscars.

The Steenberg Golf Club made a wonderful venue – not cold at all as I thought it would be as it chilly winter now and it had been hailing the day before. John Smit (Current Sharks CEO) made a wonderful speech and it was indeed astonishing to hear how someone such as himself could still make the time for the training that is required. He said that he was ashamed to say he had never trained so hard in all the years of his training during his rugby career.

I am looking forward to next year’s ABSA Cape Epic as you are guaranteed that each year gets tougher, but better. The route for the 2015 ABSA Cape Epic will be launched on 22 October 2014. I can’t wait to see what exciting obstacles there will be for next year.

ABSA Cape Epic with John smith and Kevin Vermaak

Team Hansgrohe: again riding for a good cause

Matthew Daneel in the final moments of the Cycle for Life

Matthew Daneel in the final moments of the Cycle for Life

Cycle for life 009 - Copy

The Somerset House school hall comes alive when Cycling for Life with Helderberg Hospice

Team Hansgrohe is always happy to climb onto their bikes – any excuse really! But what better cause than for charity. On 24th May, Team Hangrohe riders Dan Forsyth, Duane Searle and Matthew Daneel climbed onto their stationary bikes for a 12 hour long ride for Helderberg Hospice – Cycle for Life.

The Cycle for Life was held at Somerset House Primary School on 24th May in order to raise funds for the Helderberg Hospice. Helderberg Hospice offers care and support to those living with cancer, HIV/Aids, Motor Neurone Disease and any end-stage illness. CP&B in conjunction with Hansgrohe has supported this noteworthy cause in previous years and warmed their seats for a period of 12 hours on a rainy Saturday.

Many other teams join this cause every year to raise funds and upon visiting the site at 17:30, it was an atmosphere of fun, friends and funky tunes. Each team gets to choose some music that they feel will keep them going as for some, starring at the concrete floor is a little bit different to the great outdoors – this event makes it clear as to why the mountain bikers are a different breed to that of the “roadies”.


There are always plenty of refreshments and foods available for the riders and their supporters as well as entertainment in the form of big screen TVs. Team Hansgrohe rode their hearts out and finished with the second most mileage racked up for the day – a whopping 895km. Well done Team!

Hansgrohe taps into the Transbaviaans

Wayne Denysschen (left) & Louis Naude (Right)

Wayne Denysschen (left) & Louis Naude (Right)

Hansgrohe Africa has sponsored the shower accessories for the past three years for the ABSA Cape Epic event and has since then received mounting requests for sponsorship of the shower area for other events as well as other forms of sponsorship, including ABSA Pride Rides and now the sponsorship of two avid mountain bikers from On Tap Jeffreys Bay in the Transbaviaans MTB race.

We can now hear from Louis Naude, who is also a runner, about his experience in this MTB race.

“Mountain biking is a very popular sport in this part of the world due to the excellent country routes around Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Patensie, Loerie, Gamtoos and Hankey. Our Country roads has also proven very safe to date. Touch wood.

My name is Louis Naude, owner of On Tap Jeffreys Bay. Our regular customers are Builders and Plumbers, and many of them are keen Mountain bikers (AND Hansgohe fans, off course). The famous Transbaviaans 230 km, “toughest single stage MTB event in the World” also ends in Jeffreys Bay, making J/Bay not only famous for its excellent surfing, but more and more also for its mountain biking. See It takes place on 16 August 2014.

I have always been a jogger, having done numerous marathons such as the Knysna Forest marathon, the Kilimanjaro marathon and the Comrades ultra-marathon. Biking just looked more fun, so about two years ago I joined the local group on their early ride on Saturday mornings. Now I never jog anymore.

We even have a facebook page:

So far I’ve done the Karroo to Coast, Tsitsikamma MTB Challenge and the Jeffreys Bay MTB Open.

Wayne Denysschen is a Plumber in Jeffreys Bay. He lived in England for a number of years where he enjoyed mountain biking immensely. He quickly joined the local MTB fraternity when he moved to Jeffreys Bay. Wayne completed the Transbaviaans last year in an excellent 12 hours 15 minutes. He has also done numerous other races in the area, including the extremely tough Attakwas Extreme 121km (total ascent 2900m) from Oudshoorn to Great Brak River. See

This year Wayne and I entered the Transbaviaans!! It is a team event. Two, three or four people per team. Wayne and I are proudly entered as the Hansgrohe Team.

Before the Transbaviaans we have enter a few races for training, the first being the Tsitsikamma on 12 April. Then there’s also the Jeffreys Bay MTB Open in July, which runs concurrently with the International Billabong Surfing Championships.

After Transbaviaans we would love to do the PE Plett, a 3 day event in September, as well as the To Hell and Back in Gamkaskloof in November. It’s a 2 day event.

I’m only 54 this year, and Wayne is 34, so we have many more years of MTB ahead! Thanks very much Hansgrohe for showing so much interest in our sport.”

Wrapping up the ABSA Cape Epic 2014

Duane and Dan come in spot on 4 hours

A sense of elation washes over the riders as they cross the finish line at Lourensford Wine Estate. Well done to all!

Annually, Hansgrohe Africa joins forces with the Absa Cape Epic as the official shower accessories sponsor. Currently in its third year running, all the riders and crew members who partake in the exhilarating eight day event have the pleasure of using the shower trucks at the end of a long day. The Hansgrohe shower trucks are equipped with EcoSmart overhead showers to ensure a 75% water saving.

Says Anthony Mederer, managing director of Hansgrohe South Africa, “The Absa Cape Epic is the most amazing mountain bike race in the world and we are thrilled to be a part of the action again. One of our main objectives other than providing the riders with a shower at the end of each stage – was to illustrate how using the EcoSmart overhead showers could save water on a big scale event without jeopardising the quality of the showers, but still heightening the experience.”

Hansgrohe prides itself on its eco showers as there is no compromise on shower pleasure. The EcoSmart shower has a 3:1 ratio of air and water ensuring water consumption is cut dramatically.

Riaan Binneman, logistics manager of the Absa Cape Epic, explains: “In the past, the water for the shower trucks would need to be replenished three to four times per day to ensure every rider gets a shower at the end of each stage. This has been minimised and only requires one refill, making our logistical load lighter and the showering process easier for everyone involved.”

Hansgrohe South Africa is also a proud sponsor of four rider teams at the Absa Cape Epic made up of Amanda Brookes, Robert Vogel, Dennis Mack, Dudley Turner, Desmond Smith, Leon Tobias, Dan Forsyth and Duane Searle.

Robert Vogel who is the main spokes person for the TeamHansgrohe blog, had some comments on the event as a whole. Hind sight is 20-20 of course.

“The Epic has an “afterglow” that lingers for quite some time, so it’s never a matter of just moving on.

There were all kinds of people that followed our progress during the race, it’s actually quite amazing. From direct family and close friends, all the way to business connections and people you haven’t seen or heard from in years. The reach of the Cape Epic goes well beyond the mountain biking community, evident by the characters that come out of the woodwork to congratulate you on your achievement.

The personal sense of achievement is immense. You test yourself against the terrain, elements and the rest of the field. Everyone has their own personal goal for the Epic. Whether it’s just to finish, place on the podium or somewhere in between. When you achieve that goal, it’s the best feeling ever.

Amanda and I set ourselves a goal. We wanted to finish in the top 10 of the Mixed category. We had no idea whether we would make it, we just put our heads down and gave it our best shot.

We spoke about our approach to the race and even though we wanted to do well, the one thing we agreed on as well, was that we would have a good time trying. We worked well as a team, there was never a word spoken in anger. We both knew we would give 100%, always with a smile on our face and always supportive of each other.

What did I learn from riding the 2014 Cape Epic?

  1. You have to accept the choices you made before the start of the Epic.
  2. Be open and honest with your partner.
  3. Communicate as much as you can.
  4. Don’t blame your partner, you’re in this together.
  5. Stick to your game plan at the start of the race and only change it once you’re a couple of days in and feeling strong.
  6. Ride consistently and you will move up the field.
  7. Make friends along the way, it’s great for morale.

I had great partner, fantastic support from my wife and a great team to ride with. Hansgrohe was a supportive and generous sponsor and the values the brand represents are in tune with why I like to ride my mountain bike.”

This is not goodbye and indeed it is not as the excitement has already picked up for Epic 2015! Can you believe it?

Stage 7: Oak Valley to Lourensford. 69km. 1800m of climbing

galleryof riders LF

The final day has come and gone again, and I can hardly believe it. As usual, the day was very festive at Lourensford Wine Estate. We welcomed all of our riders home with our arms wide open. First in, spot on 4 hours, was Dan and Duane, followed shortly thereafter by the remainder of our rider: Robert & Amanda; Leon & Desmond and Dudley & Dennis. Anthony and Kate Mederer joined us on this final momentus day and were happy to chat to Vanessa Haywood and some other famous celebs in the ABSA Hospitality tent. Can you hear the sound of shoulders rubbing together?
Hansgrohe again offered the ShowerZone to all the day riders and runners of the Liqui-Fruit day races and also had live demonstrations of showers whilst gathering votes for the Dirtiest Rider.
Hansgrohe is very happy with the performance of our riders. Just to complete the ABSA Cape Epic, is a major feat.
Lets now hear from Robert Vogel how the final day went for him and Amanda.

Dudley Turner (left) & Dennis Mack (right)

Dudley Turner (left) & Dennis Mack (right)

“The final day of the Cape Epic had dawned, albeit a little wet. Amanda and I had made it this far without a major incident. Not a puncture, mechanical or fall. We were tired and the legs were sore, but we were amped to get to the finish at Lourensford.

We set off at 8:10am in the second start group of the day, heading out of the race village and straight up a long drag. I got up out of the saddle to pedal and it felt like my legs were going to buckle! The muscles were cold and hurting and I was a little concerned whether I was going to suffer today.

We got to the “Concrete Strips” were my wife and daughter and a whole bunch of familiar faces were cheering all of us on and then headed up the “Old Pass”. Crossing the tar road (to Villiersdorp), we began the long climb to the top of Nuweberg.

Fortunately, the legs were warm now and feeling ok, so I got behind Amanda and gave her a push here and there. She was looking strong and we began making good progress once we had descended Nuweberg on the other side.

At the bottom of the pass we turned into the Shapenberg single track which took us further down the mountain in flowing twists and turns through bush tunnels and pine forest.

A quick bottle refill at water point 2 and we had to climb up some single track into a maze of switchback trails. The line of riders went back and forth between the trees and as we climbed higher, one could take a quick look to see how close the other mixed teams were. Lucky for Amanda and I, there were none in sight and we knew now that unless we suffered a mechanical, our Top 10 spot was safe!

Anthony Mederer (left), Dan Forsyth (centre) & Duane Searle (right)

Anthony Mederer (left), Dan Forsyth (centre) & Duane Searle (right)

We entered Vergelegen at the top of the hill and I caught a brief glimpse of the race village. From here it was almost a straight run home. We entered Lourensford farm and ducked into a single track which was fun to ride, but the focus was firmly on the finish less than 5km away. We carried on riding hard, having passed another mixed team as well as one of the Top 10 ladies teams. Amanda was looking like she had “White Line Fever”, her head down, legs pumping on the pedals. She was as keen as me to get to the finish.

We hit the gravel road leading on the polo field at pace and were greeted by a phalanx of people, clapping and waving. Turning the final corner we saw the finish line ahead and a few seconds later we were done. Cape Epic completed!

Amanda and I hugged each other, thrilled with the way we had ridden as a team. She rode so well all week, sucking up the pain when the going was tough and relishing the remote trails we were privileged enough to ride. Amanda was a great partner to ride with and her positive attitude won her many friends along the trails.

Well done to the other 3 Hansgrohe teams that also completed this year’s Cape Epic. It was fantastic to be part of the team and Amanda and I are both grateful for the opportunity afforded us.”

Stage 6: Oak Valley to Oak Valley. 85km. 1800m of climbing

Rider Dining  Marquee 29 March 2014

Rider Dining Marquee 29 March 2014

No surprises today, but a little bit of sadness as I realise it is the last “shower day” of the Epic. We had a steady stream of riders in from 12:00 until 17:00 and then it was time to prep for the dinner that evening. This time around, instead of having our riders at the dining marquee, we decided to host a party of Architects from Boogertman, Louis Carol and Kevin Engelbrecht Studio. Hansgrohe and its Team Riders handed over a cheque to Cape Leopard Trust (Helen Turnbull) for the amount of R 20 000. Hansgrohe is happy to support this worthy cause.
On another note, all the locations have been completely crawling with crickets – everywhere! We had loads of fun warding off the crickets as they flew into us all the time, whilst trying to shield our food. Besides this, I think we all had a good time and ran off into the rain as we were the last one to leave the marquee at 21:00 – hehe.

We can now hear from Robert Vogel on stage 6 of the ABSA Cape Epic.

“We were definitely feeling the last couple of days riding in our legs, but thanks to our brilliant Physio, Melanie, we seemed to find some new life in those pins of ours today. Amanda and I both know the Elgin Valley well and it really helped to know where we were going and what lay in wait around the corner. Today was going to be a rollercoaster ride. Up and down, on smooth and fun single track, with a bit of climbing thrown in for good measure – whop, whop, whop, Epic-style.

I had developed a bit of a bum sore which meant a visit to the Bum Clinic before the start. I wasn’t the only one in need of some TLC and once I was taped up, I had to literally run to get to the start chute in time.

We started at the back that wasn’t ideal, but Amanda had been ill overnight, so it was probably best to get rolling at a more sedate pace.

Our Mixed competition had other plans and were going out hard which necessitated some damage control. I left Amanda to ride at her pace and warm up and I rode ahead to keep tabs on the other 2 Mixed teams.

The route crossed Oak Valley farm, heading for Paul Cluver and then on to Houw Hoek Inn. The single tracks on the way are well known to us and settled in to a steady rhythm, keeping the other Mixed teams in sight.

We got to water point 1 quickly and decided to push on and not stop. We carried on along the old N2 road to a tunnel under the current N2, in order to get to the other side of the valley. The route took us through a pine forest up to the old missile testing station at Houwtec.

It’s a bit of a surreal place. Built in the middle of pristine fynbos on top of a hill, the buildings are scattered over a relatively large area, connected with wide tar roads. As we cycled past one of the buildings, I imagined the engineers flicking a switch and firing up a secretly built rocket engine.

We carried on along a contour jeep track, eventually dropping down to the valley floor, before climbing a steep hill up to water point 2.

One of the Mixed teams was still with us, but the steep hill gave us an advantage as were the better climbers and Amanda and I got a nice gap over a relatively short distance. A quick change of bottles and a wave to some familiar faces and we set off to climb even higher up the hill to eventually reach the Lebanon trail network. This was our first taste of a long single track section and we flew down the trails, before leveling out and getting to the second culvert under the N2 to take us back to Thandi and on to Paul Cluver and water point 3.

Approaching water point 3 , it was evident that there were a lot of spectators cheering on all the riders. Paul Cluver farm have build a “bike park” around their amphitheater with hanging bridges, berms and elevated tracks. It was amazing to ride into the amphitheater and be greeted and cheered by some many people. Another quick stop and we set off to tackle the last 25km home, back to base.

We rode some amazing ravine single track, up one side of the back and across to the other side. Almost like a skateboard half pipe. Brilliant! At this point we were caught by another Mixed team which were no real threat to our Category position, but we decided to keep them close, just to be safe. Once out of the single tracks , we climbed up a couple of steep “little” hills, heading back Oak Valley. More fast and flowing single track followed, before we were hit with another longish climb to the top of the farm, form where we ducked into another river single track, flying along, eager to get to the finish.

This time there were no more nasty surprises and we followed the single track all the way to the finish line where we were pipped to the post by the other Mixed team.

There is a lot of respect for each other when we ride out there (and we ride hard),but at the finish line it’s hugs and handshakes all round. With a couple of Woolies milkshakes downed, it off to the Hansgrohe ShowerZone to wash the dust off and begin the recovery part of the day.

Amanda and I can almost smell home now. We will ride safe and keep and eye on the competition, but take no unnecessary risks. The finish at Lourensford beckons.”