Taming ‘the Beast’

The Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge has turned the route around for 2018. That’s exciting; for the final 10km, you’ll be whizzing towards a welcome-home from friends, family, and spectators. But while the change makes the finish friendlier, you still have to tackle the same amount of climbing over the course of the day.

The reversal of the route sees the bulk of the climbing coming in the first half of the race, culminating in the King/Queen of the Mountains at the soon-to-be-infamous BRAAM BEAST! Although the final little climb to the actual KOM/QOM spot isn’t bad in isolation, the fact that you now have a lot of climbing in your legs makes this a toughie! Here are some tips and tricks to get you through it:

Don’t go hard

With three climbs in the first 10km, you’ll need to ease yourself in. Don’t put too much in too soon.Take it easy in the beginning, and you’ll save yourself for where it matters, rewarding yourself with a great day on the bike.

Don’t go heavy

The best way to improve your climbing is not by buying the lightest bike on the market, but rather by making yourself the lightest cyclist on the market. Okay, you don’t have to shed the kilos to match Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio’s racing weight, but losing weight ahead of the event will improve your uphill stamina notably.

Just a few kilograms can change your riding. “Any reduction in body weight can make a difference in performance,” trainer Chad Timmerman tells bicycling.com. By focussing on your own weight and not your bike’s, that is, by actually cycling more ahead of the Cycle Challenge, you’ll be making some beneficial changes to your body in general.

Go with your flow

Related to “don’t go too hard”, going with “your” flow means don’t get caught up in the emotion of starting the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge. You’ll be tempted in the moment to stay with the group you’re with and hit the red zone with that ol’ heart rate. Once you do this, it’s difficult to recover, so rather go with how you’re feeling. If you can talk to your friends around you - even in short bursts - then you’re doing fine.

If you are racing, by all means race. But if your intention is to enjoy the ride, rather focus on riding at your own pace from the start.

Bum down

Seated cycling is best on the hills, even if you think it looks impressive when others are standing and absolutely hammering their pedals. Staying seated is simply more efficient; remember to stay relaxed, keep your eyes on the road ahead and keep your upper body still. Think of your legs as pistons that don’t require your shoulders and head to power them up and down.

Spin to win

There is no shame in using lighter gears on a ride, in an event or whenever you feel necessary. Jumping straight into the big ring will only tire you out quicker. Cadence, or pedal speed, is a very personal thing. Do what works for you, but if your legs are aching, rather be using lighter gears.

Break it into bite-size-chunks

Don’t let the length of the route, or the climbs scare you. Break the route and the climbs into bite-size chunks: aim for the next intersection, or traffic light or ‘just to the top of Jan Smuts’. Once you hit that small goal, refocus to the next one. Sooner than you realise, you’ll be cruising your way over that finish line with your arms in the air, havingconquered both the ‘Braam Beast’ AND the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge.

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