MARCH 2014 UPDATE….

CHANGE A LIFE PADDLING:
Highlight of Feb was the Non Stop Dusi, also referred to as the “Comrades” of canoeing [90km paddling/28km’s Canoe portaging].
With no official support structures in place, this gruelling race requires every competitor to have a personal seconding crew tracking/supporting their entire journey from Pmb to Durban.
Last min decision by Change a Life Eric Zondi to pair up with Hank McGregor, saw this untested combination claim victory in emphatic style – kilometres ahead of the fancied Dusi crew of Michael Mbanwja & Lance Kime in 2nd place.
Change a Life combination of Zonele Nzuza & Nhlanhla Cele podiumed fantastically in 3rd place.
CAL Kwanda Mhlophe & Mmeli Cele held bravely onto 4th for ¾’s of the race, but were unfortunately passed on ‘Day 3’ and so finished 5th.
Hats off to novice Non Stop Dusi, Change a life Banetsi Nkhoesa, for placing 7th overall with his seasoned veteran partner and past winner CAL Thomas Ngidi. The immense effort of this gruelling race took its toll on Banetsi , come Day 3.Hitting Burma Hill Portage after 7hrs, which should of worked in their favour, instead cost them dearly, as Banetsi struggled to get to the top. Top 10 Banetsi, not bad for a first attempt .
Results:
1st – Eric/Hank
3rd – Zonele/Nhlanhla
5th – Kwanda/Mmeli)
7th – Banetsi/Thomas

RMB CHANGE A LIFE CYCLING:
Intaba Ridge Mtb Classic – 65km
With Joberg2c lurking on the horizon, the RMB Change a Life Zulus are always looking to “add value” to their long term performance – and what better way than to train hard the day before a local race.
With this in mind, the RMB CAL Zulus rode from the valley, to overnight at PMB Backpackers.
The following day they rode to the race. In muddy conditions, my Zulus raced as if their lives were at stake. The performance of the year so far was achieved, when Sthembiso stood tall on the podium in 3rd position overall, beaming from ear to ear. Mboneni 4th, Masa 8th , Bongumusa 19th . John Ntuli up near the front, unfortunately missed a marker and went off course.

The following week, the RMB CAL Zulus took part in the first of the SA Cup Series XCO at the infamous Cascades Mtb Park. The course [lap racing] was super technical with radical short sharp inclines, gearing up for the World UCI XCO in a few weeks. Admittedly I opted for one of the ‘chicken run’ options in my 4 lap Veterans race. With John Ntuli claiming a 3rd overall in the competitive Sub veteran category, he was well pleased, seeing that this short intense lap racing is not his speciality. Stembiso placed 17th in the highly competitive Elite category, with Mboneni 8 positions behind him. I was pleased that there were no crashes in the Rock Gardens, a great experience for the RMB CAL Zulus.

We head to Berg & Bush territory tomorrow, to take part in the Royal Drakensberg 50km Classic….

CAL RUNNING:
Weekly Change a Life runs have started at 3 venues in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. CAL Run assistant, Joe Maphumula, has been a revelation in his eagerness and motivation with the Valley youngsters. A month to go before the first ever CAL running league team will travel out the Valley to participate in a running race.

FEBRUARY 2014 UPDATE….

Change a life Paddling:
Feb 2 – Inanda Dam to Durban Canoe Race
With this race taking part on Dusi Day 3 and a guaranteed water release, it was a must for all Change a Life paddlers. Portaging over Burma Hill showed them where their running fitness was at.

The week preceeding Dusi, Change a Life took a team to cut & open up the overgrown Burma Hill portage and show the youngsters the most direct route as it gets confusing with the numerous Goat paths zig zagging everywhere.

Feb 13 to 15 – Dusi
Todate this was the best performing Dusi, Change a Life has had. With the final results showing 8 CAL boats in the top 20.
With CAL superstar Eric, partnered with Andy, racing to a convincing lead on Day 1, U18 Juniors Mthobisi Cele & Damon Stamp to me had the performance of the Day, finishing 6th.

1

Sadly Lucas/Mmeli had their rudder system mangled 5min from the start by another canoe at Earnie Pearce Weir, to no fault of their own. After fixing it, they paddled off, in 60th position. Soldiering on, they ended the Day 1 in an incredible 11th overall.

2

3

4

5

Overall Results:
1st – Eric/Andy, 5th – Kwanda/Zonele, 11th – Mthobisi/Damon , 13th – Lucas/Mmeli, 15th – Mhlonishwa/Nqobile,
17th – Thomas/Roland, 19th – Richard/Nhlanhla , 20th – Skhumbuso/Nkosi, 35th – Mzamo/ Khumbalani ,
41st – Banetsi & Themba
Interesting facts:
• Change a Life won the Club/Team prize – (fastest combined time of two K2’s from the same Club)
• CAL placed 1st & 3rd in the U18 category

RMB CHANGE A LIFE CYCLING….
Wartburg Mtb Classic – 65km
Last year this was the inaugural Mtb race for the RMB CAL team. I remember they were scattered over B, C & D batches. Fast forward to 2014, the entire team was A batched. The RMB CAL Zulus were highly excited and motivated to show off their fine form. It was a brilliant course, with tough steep hills, testing single track and a few pros to keep the pace honest.
The commentator and public witnessing the finish, were astounded when 3 RMB CAL Zulus crossed the line in top 10. Apart from Vela cramping severely in his lower back and being ambulanced to the finish, the guys rode exceptionally well. Hard work really does pay off  !!
5th-John, 8t –Stembiso 10th–Mboneni, 16th–Bongumusa, 23rd-Martin, 34th-Sizwe, 46th-Masa, 56th-Sabelo, 68th-Sipho, 83rd-Siyanda.

CAL Running:
With the new CAL Schools running League format this year, we have spent time scouting & locating four central venues where weekly runs can be hosted, marking the courses and getting the word out at Schools of the new structures in place with the opportunity of being selected for the new CAL Running Team.

JANUARY 2014 UPDATE….

Change a life Paddling:

With Dusi just around the corner, January is the busiest racing month on the Change a Life Paddling Calendar.
Popes Challenge:

The following week was the Hi-Q Abert Falls paddle/run canoe race. The perfect show-down for the top 10 gold medal contenders. Being a flat water race, there was no where to hide, no excuses saying I took a bad line in a rapid. With some power running with a canoe on the numerous portages, Lucas and Mmeli romped home to victory, estatic with their first place.

The following week, many Change a Lifers ventured down the Umzinkulu river, paddling the 2 day Drak Challenge. Some opted to rather stay in the Dusi Valley to train.

Campbells to Dusi Bridge Canoe Race:
Start, to run or to Paddle, your choice? All the top contenders run the 2.5km ‘Hole in the Wall’ trail with their canoes at the start, as it shortcuts the horse-shoe bend the paddlers take and is 1min faster.
Once the runners put back in to the river, they paddle for 15 min, then take out for the tough 3km Guinea Fowl Portage, put back in the river for 35min, 500m Fingerneck portage, 12min paddle, 2.5km Cabbage Tree Portage and then a 15min paddle to the finish.
There was a titanic battle in the front between the 2 favourite to win Dusi crews, namely Change a Life Eric Zondi partnered with Andrew Birkett and my ex 2008 Dusi Champ partner, Michael Mbanjwa, paddling with the 2013 winner, Lance Kime. They raced neck & neck, even putting in together after the Cabbage Tree portage. But the brute power of Zondi/Birkett proved too strong on the final stretch of paddling to the finish line, to claim an emphatic win and a warning to all Dusi title contenders. In Eric’s words, “once we got onto the water, we put the hammer down and that was that, we dropped them. It was a very tough race, I am very happy to win”.
Out of the lime light, cresting the top of Cabbage Tree, was the illusive Change a Life crew of Lucas Mthalane & Mmeli Cele, only 50 seconds behind.

Two weeks later the CAL Zulus paddled Kzn’s biggest one day race – Ozzie Gladwin.
The race was very tough and very fast!
Bumping/fighting for position on the 8km paddle on Inanda Dam and the 2km portage over Albert Falls Dam wall to 16km river paddle.
CAL Eric/Andy came 2nd overall.
Lucas/Mmeli – 8th
Mthobisi/Damon – 9th and 1st Juniors.
Kwanda/Zonele – 17th
U/16 paddlers Mpilo/Nkosi paddled excellently to place in top 30 overall.

RMB Change a Life Cycling:
The RMB CAL Zulus turned a lot of heads, when they placed incredibly high in the 45km Hola Trail Mtb race, although only a local race on the North Coast.
John Ntuli – 3rd
Sizwe – 4th
Thembane – 5th
Stembiso – 6th
Bongumusa, Vela and Sabelo made it into the top 25. Mboneni unfortunately couldn’t ride due to still recovering from his Hill 2 Hill Mtb crash.
From the feedback received from the RMB corporate cycle event hosted in the Valley of a 1000 Hills, it was a great success. RMB did their own bookings and outsourced the catering, so myself and the RMB CAL Zulus guided them on spectacular trails in the valley.

CAL Running:
The Schools running was put on hold due to this being an important exam month.
However organising for the last CAL Inter schools X-Country champs is in full swing, which takes place at Nagle Dam on the 7th of December.

NOVEMBER 2013 UPDATE….

Change a life Paddling:
CAL sent a team to Gauteng’s premiere canoe race – two day Vaal Canoe Marathon which was also the SA K2 River Marathon Champs.
Good results from our budding juniors:
Mpilo/Nkosi – placed 3rd in U18 juniors when they are still U/16
Jabulani/Msiya – 3rd U16
Eric Zondi paddled with Andy Birkett – 3rd overall
Junior CAL Mthobisi Cele paddled with Michael Mbanjwa – 7th overall
Lucas/Mmeli – 8th overall
Unfortunately Khumbulani/Syanda swam and end up 4th juniors.

Two weeks later the CAL Zulus paddled Kzn’s biggest one day race – Ozzie Gladwin.
The race was very tough and very fast!
Bumping/fighting for position on the 8km paddle on Inanda Dam and the 2km portage over Albert Falls Dam wall to 16km river paddle.
CAL Eric/Andy came 2nd overall.
Lucas/Mmeli – 8th
Mthobisi/Damon – 9th and 1st Juniors.
Kwanda/Zonele – 17th
U/16 paddlers Mpilo/Nkosi paddled excellently to place in top 30 overall.

RMB Change a Life Cycling:
The RMB CAL Zulus turned a lot of heads, when they placed incredibly high in the 45km Hola Trail Mtb race, although only a local race on the North Coast.
John Ntuli – 3rd
Sizwe – 4th
Thembane – 5th
Stembiso – 6th
Bongumusa, Vela and Sabelo made it into the top 25. Mboneni unfortunately couldn’t ride due to still recovering from his Hill 2 Hill Mtb crash.
From the feedback received from the RMB corporate cycle event hosted in the Valley of a 1000 Hills, it was a great success. RMB did their own bookings and outsourced the catering, so myself and the RMB CAL Zulus guided them on spectacular trails in the valley.

CAL Running:
The Schools running was put on hold due to this being an important exam month.
However organising for the last CAL Inter schools X-Country champs is in full swing, which takes place at Nagle Dam on the 7th of December.

OCTOBER & SEPTEMBER 2013 UPDATE….

Change a Life OCTOBER 2013 Update….

Change a Life Paddling
A new race hosted by Natal Canoe Club started at the “real start of Dusi” and finishing on top of the first big Dusi portage at Bishopestowe Hall. This unique mountain top finish was well suited to the Change a Life Zulus. First was Dusi 2014 favourites CAL Eric Zondi/Andrew Birkett, CAL Nhlanhla Cele/Michael Mbanjwa, CAL Lucas Mthalane/Mmeli Cele.
The following week the Change a Life Zulus hosted the two day Dam2Dam Canoe Race on the Umngeni River. A very technical river which had many inexperienced canoeists breaking boats and so a long couple of days out on the river for the CAL Zulus, rescuing/fixing canoes.
This weekend a strong Change a Life contingent are travelling to Gauteng to take part in Gautengs premiere Canoe Race, the two day Vaal Canoe Marathon.

Samsa have bought Canoes/paddles/lifejackets for a new CAL paddling Academy at Inanda Dam, so now youngsters can begin learning the challenging sport of paddling. On the 9th of November they are having a spit braai at the dam to symbolise the start of this new Academy.

RMB Change a Life Mtb team
The RMB CAL Zulus MTB Team drove up to Bergville to take part in the infamous Berg and Bush 3 day Mtb Stage Race. Big climbs (most famous being the vertical ascent of Spionkop Mnt) and technical single track were the order of each day. The results turned a lot of heads and got the upcountry (Gauteng) Mtb folk suddenly asking who are these incredibly talented Black youngsters.
7th – John Ntuli/Stembiso Masango
14th – Mart/Jeannie
22 – Thambani/Bongumusa
25 – Sizwe/Sabelo
83 – Celumusa/Nhlanhla

The next week we travelled to Ballito to ride the one day Gears4Ears 50km Mtb race.
It was here Change a Life got their best results ever, albeit only a local Kzn race.
3-John, 4-Sizwe, 5-Thembani, 6-Stembiso, 15-Bongumusa, 17-Mvelisi, 22-Mart.

Change a Life Running League
The Schools X-Country runs have been put on hold with Schools writing exams, however as soon as exams are over, Change a Life is hosting an Inter Schools X-Country Championships at Nagle Dam which the kids absolutely love.

CHANGE A LIFE SEPTEMBER UPDATE….

Change a Life Paddling
Big smiles for Eric Zondi as he earned a quick R3000 for use of his photo in a 3 month Hansa Dusi Ad campaign. Eric ventured down to the Cape to paddle the Breede River Canoe Marathon (Capes biggest K2 race) with Lance King – placing 7th.
Lucas travelled in his car to Richards Bay and won the Zululand Kayak Race with his Dusi partner, Mmeli Cele.
The big race of the month was the Ngwenya Challenge (Dusi start to Motor X track – 14km downstream), as this is used as a trial for the Development paddlers to go to the second biggest canoe race in SA – Fish River Canoe Marathon in the Eastern Cape. Change a Life junior star Mthobisi Cele won overall with his partner Damon Stamp. Lucas & Mmeli – 2nd, Mpilo & Nkosi – 2nd in U16, Khumbulani & Syanda – 3rd in U18. Skhumbuso & Nhlanhla also placed in the top 10.
Unfortunately Kwanda Mhlophe could not go to the Fish Canoe Marathon, as he is currently writing exams for his Sports Management Diploma – in which he is doing very well.
A while back, Samsa showed a keen interest to sponsor a new CAL paddling Academy at Inanda Dam, so I have been spending some time there, assisting some youngsters with paddling. It is very much in the embryo stage with no new equipment purchased as yet. On the 28th of Sept they are having a spit braai at the dam for 300 kids to come witness what this canoeing thing is all about.

RMB Change a Life Mtb team
At the beginning of this month, I had the privilege of taking part in the legendary Change a Life Cycle tour through Swaziland & Northern Natal. What a truly remarkable event – hats off to all execs claiming the 220km day 1 in stifling heat.
Two RMB CAL Zulus rode in the prestigious 8 day Jozi2Kozi Mtb race. Although regarded as more of a mtb experience than a race, Mbongumusa placed 3rd overall and Mvelisi 8th. Both represented their team with flying colours – had great report backs re their behaviour on & off the bike.
The team’s big focus of this month was the super tough 100km Hill2Hill Mtb race, not for the faint hearted. That’s where our RMB CAL Dev team separates itself from other Dev Teams – in that it is capable of taking on this immense challenge head on, where the other Dev riders in Kzn, gravitated to the shorter 45km distance.
Out of 744 finishers in the Ultra, the RMB CAL Zulus placed as follows:
John Ntuli – 34, Sizwe-37, Thembane-43, Vela-84, Sabelo-85, Stembiso-98, Nhlanhla-104, Mthobisi-112, Syanda(novice)-180. Unfortunately Mboneni had a horrendous crash in the first 6km and had to be ambulanced to hospital with a dislocated right shoulder, broken left wrist, 5 stitches on his upper lip & a closed swollen right eye. Fortunately he is recovering well.

Change a Life Running League
This month started with weekly runs, but then with exams and now School Holidays, School X-Country Runs got put on hold. Having said that, two black persons hosted a 33km run in the Valley with prize money sponsored by the local Taxi Bosses. When race day approached, they panicked and asked if Change a Life could please assist with logistics as this was the first time they were organising a race. CAL put marshals on the course and manned USN water stops amongst adding value in other areas.
Joe, who won the last CAL Inter-Schools X-country, came first – to his delight, winning R2000. An outside pro runner was 2nd. Mthobisi Cele from CAL was 3rd (R500), with CAL John Ntuli 4th.

AUGUST 2013 UPDATE….

Change a Life Paddling
The Zulu paddlers are settling into their base training for the 2014 Dusi. With next year being a doubles (K2) Dusi, most have chosen partners. Exciting to watch will be Mthobisi Cele, paddling with Damon Stamp – going for the very competitive U18 Junior Dusi title. Two weeks ago, they won the junior title on the 2 day Tugela Canoe Marathon.
At the beginning of the month, the Junior paddlers took part in the SA K4 Sprint Champs. The Change a life U16 crew of Mpilo Zondi, Jabulani Gwamanda, Nkosi Mabaso & Syanda Gwamanda won Gold in all their events – 200m, 500m, 1000m and the 10km as well.
Change a Life star, Eric Zondi, recently returned from having raced Australia’s premiere white water canoe race, the Avon Descent. On his maiden attempt, he was delighted to finish 5th overall and for that he received $2000 (R17 600).

RMB Change a Life Mtb team
Mtn National Series – Hilton – 28 July
A super tough Mtb race with lots of climbing. John Ntuli braved the Elite 100km, placing an incredible 19th overall.
In the 75km race, Mboneni placed 31, Sizwe 38, Thembani 50, Vela 51, Martin 54, Bongumusa 66, Nhlanhla 68, Sabelo 72, Kwanda 103, Celumusa(with takkies) 117, Siyanda 121, Mthobisi 125th.

Eston Illovo Mtb race – 4 Aug
The following week the RMB CAL Zulus raced KZN’s biggest one day Mtb race where the competition was of a super high std.
Results were John Ntuli 30, Bongumusa 42, Thembani 50, Mboneni 52, Sizwe 53, Sabelo 81, Martin 82, Nhlanhla 89, Kwanda 95, Vela 120, Siyanda146

Tour De Krantz Mtb race – 10 Aug
The RMBCAL Zulus never cease to amaze me…. this race was by no means easy, cold muddy course, made for testing riding conditions.
Positions were as follows:
John Ntuli 8, Sizwe 15, Mboneni 19, Thembani 21, Bongumusa 24, Martin 31, Vela 34, Sabelo 46, Kwanda 57, Mthobisi 68.

Jeannie Dreyer continued her winning streak by dominating the woman’s category, winning overall by 8min, so having her train with my Zulus is such a bonus – as they feel very strongly about a woman beating them – to them its not a good thing :)

John Ntuli raced beyond himself, placing an incredible 17th in the 30 to 34 year category in the highly competitive Master World Mtb Champs at Cascades – Pmb.

Change a Life Running League
It was a huge disappoint to hear that the Inter Region X-Country Champs were not going to be held at Nagle Dam, when a week ago all was set for Change a Life to host this event. We had booked the venue at Nagle Dam, organised the various age group running routes, selected CAL guys for course marshals, DJ for music etc….
I believe the decision was made at Government level and the reason was that it was ‘too remote’. It is just so frustrating because we had come so far and it was such late notice. Many persons on the organising committee have vented their frustrations to me in that they are not in agreement with this decision that has been made. Suppose you live & learn….

JULY 2013 UPDATE

Change a Life Paddling
Nine Change a Life paddlers travelled down to compete in the gruelling 4 day 240km Berg River Canoe Marathon –the “Comrades of Canoeing”. With CAL now focussing a lot on the Juniors of the Academy, 5 youngsters took on this mammoth challenge, with Mthobisi Cele winning the U18 junior title and Mpilo Zondi winning the U16 – this bids well for the future of Zulu paddling in the Valley. CAL Dusi star, Eric Zondi, did well to finish 9th overall in his first Berg, with an astonishing 2nd place finish on the 4th stage.
The tough Berg was great prep for Eric as he flies to Australia on the 29th of July, to paddle Australia’s premiere white water river race – the 2 day Avon Descent – a race which I won in 2002 – boy he is in for a treat.

RMB Change a Life Mtb team
The RMB CAL Zulus have been hammering quality training sessions, day in & day out this July month since having raced the Dusi2c Mtb race. End of the month, 28th of July, they will compete in the 75km MTN National Mtb Series at Hilton/Pmb. August promises to be a testing month as there is a race every weekend.
I have been spending time in the Valley, hosting a cameraman, filming the RMB CAL Zulus. A 4min Video clip, capturing the essence of what this unique Grass Roots initiative is all about, has been made for RMB to use in their upcoming conference in August.

Change a Life Running League
From the successful Change a Life Inter Schools X-Country Champs held last month, word got out – what great fun the kids had. So much so, the person involved in organising the Inter District Champs, has contacted me and asked if Change a Life can please host this event. The event attracts kids from 30 Schools. What a momentous occasion that promises to be….

BACKYARD RACING…. DUSI2C

RMB Change a Life stars set to tackle dusi2c MTB Race
Jun 19 2013
Pietermaritzburg – The inaugural dusi2c mountain bike race will see four teams from the Valley of a Thousand Hills-based RMB Change A Life Academy eager to embrace the race with a long term view of creating a sustainable mountain bike industry in the region.

Dusi2c - Sizwe & ThembaniSizwe Mkhasibe & Thembani Zwane looking relaxed before the start of the inaugral Dusi2c Mtb Race - Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Change A Life pioneer Martin Dreyer, who started the project to support young paddlers aiming to excel at the Dusi Canoe Marathon, says the new mountain bike race is a logical extension of the programme, and could have a profound impact on the valley residents.

“The reality is that there is already a mountain biking ethos in the valley as the youngsters in the valley ride everywhere,” says Dreyer. “I was thrilled when ‘Farmer Glen’ (Haw) started this race because everything he touches turns to gold, and I honestly believe that this could be start of something huge for the valley.”

Dreyer pointed out that employment opportunities were almost non-existent in the valley, which resulted in many families being separated as parents sought work elsewhere.

“The dusi2c has the potential to kick-started a whole mountain biking guiding tourism industry in the valley, creating sustainable employment for these young athletes,” said Dreyer.

“The guys will give 100%, as they always do, but for us it is just as important to make sure everyone has a fantastic experience in the valley, so I have told them they need to be courteous and polite and help wherever they can,” Dreyer added.

Dreyer pointed out that the requirement for every team to have a map-downloadable GPS for the race had posed problems as the team could not afford to buy GPS units for each rider or team, but that the team had come with typically positive solutions to the challenge.

“They are riding the trails and learning them in the week before the race,” said Dreyer.

Team captain John Ntuli, who will partner Bongumusa Zikhali for the race, said his riders had spent the week before the race learning the trails.

“This race is in our valleys so we should be at a real advantage,” said Ntuli. “We have been training in the valley learning the trials. Where we are not sure we ask local kids where the guys have been cutting single track, or where the guys on motorbikes came to make the GPS routes.”

Ntuli was optimistic that local knowledge would make it possible for one of their teams to race onto the podium, but said that it was probably more important to teach his riders the skills needed for multi-day team racing.

“Some of the guys have done joberg2c and sani2c, but I want to teach them about pacing and looking after your partner,” said Ntuli. “So much can happen on a race like this, from punctures to getting tired, so you need to learn how to race these team races.”

“We have so much talent in the valley and we plan to expand to including women in the team next year. There are great trails to ride in the area and we believe that this will help create more opportunities in the valley,” said Ntuli.

“This is a long term investment from our RMB Change A Life teams taking part in the dusi2c, and we are really excited about what can follow from this,” Dreyer added.

The dusi2c mountain bike race took place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 June 2013.

Final RMB Change a Life Zulu Overall Results:
4th – John Ntuli and Bongumusa Zikhali
9th – Sizwe Mkhasibe and Mboneni Ngcobo
12th – Kwanda Mhlopheand Nhlanhla Cele
14th – Sabelo Mncuabe and Thembani Zwane
20th – Mthobi Mzolo and Mvelisi Mchunu
33rd – Lucus Mthalane and S’yanda

BLOOD SWEAT and GEARS….

GIANTS CASTLE MTB – Jeannie & RMB Change a Life rider Sizwe Mkhasibe….

For the last month I have been hearing my Zulus say, “Eeish, training is very hard….”.
Fair enough, this discipline on two wheels is new to them, but the reality is, it ain’t gonna get any easier.
Brainwave I thought – “Get them to do a race or weekend of racing that is so hard, it will make all the ‘hard’ training we doing, seem easy.”
Looking at the KZN Mtb Calendar, the 75km Giants Castle is just that race – massive climbs, 600m bike portage up steep goat track, gnarly descents and natural “ungroomed”single track due to zero human intervention taking place in a Nature Reserve.

RMBCAL ZULU, JOHN NTULI, CATCHING ME UP & THEN PASSING US ALL….

JOHN – SUPER STRONG ON THE PORTAGE SECTIONS….

SABELO STRIDING UPHILL…. 

We journeyed to the Drakensberg to take on this Challenge. Hats off to the RMBCAL Zulus for their ‘never give up’ attitude, and how beginner Mthobisi Mzolo placed so well in his Hi-Tecs on flat pedals, I just don’t know – the youngster oozes talent. Thanks to Wildlands for their generous hospitality, 4 complimentary entries & providing tents for us. Leaving the spectacular mountainous Park, John sitting next to me says, “Mart, that was a Life experience!” I replied, “Ja, you’re right, but how awesome is this area, and you know what, it yours, mine, it belongs to all of us. And at that moment they all broke into a smile – super Proudly South African.

SIZWE GOT STRONGER IN THE SECOND HALF….

John had an incredible race – placing 2nd overall 3hr 44min, 3rd-Mart-4hr 01, 5th-Sizwe-4hr05, 8th-Mboneni-4hr15, 9th-Jeannie-4hr21, 14th-Mthobisi-4hr44, 15th-Mbongmusa-4hr54, 18th-Thembani-5hr, 25th-Sabelo-5hr20, 32nd-S’busiso-5hr35.

THEMBANI WAS PLAGUED WITH NUMEROUS PUNCTURES – damaged rim….

We returned to Pmb and stayed in the Backpackers. The following day the RMBCAL Zulus took part in the fast paced 40km Intaba Ridge Mtb Classic. Even with tired legs to begin, no complaints were uttered and again they gave their all. It was such a good confidence boost for them to know that it was still possible to do back to back races.

With fitness levels increasing, training sessions have gone up a notch and having my Wife Jeannie, making regular guest appearences – just keeps things honest. She rides magnificently and my old saying “Steady wins the game”, rings true with her approach to pacing herself perfectly to the finish line. Jeannie is my ‘default bar’ of where my boys fitness is at.

LONG RIDE – SHATTERED – HOT AS HELL….

Six weeks ago, Jeannie beat all but one of my RMBCAL Zulus in the 62km Wartburg Mtb Classic. Now at Giants, 3 RMBCAL Zulus managed to pip her to the finish line – you have no idea how chuffed they were. In my books, thats progress….

The logic of riding the tough Giants, showing my Zulus that the training we are doing is ‘normal’, is paying dividends. But with Joberg2c in a couple of weeks, we need to take it up yet another level…. Two teams will be riding the full 9 days….

INDIVIDUAL TIME TRIAL – MFULA STORE TO THE TOP OF NGUMENI….

With a local bike shop closing down, we managed to get important bike tools at bargain prices, enabling us to  do much of our own repairs, straightening bent deraileur hangers, removing rear cassettes, truing a wheel etc….

Danie from Squirt lubricants, generously offered to sponsor our Mtb Academy with their product - which is so lekker, as we have currently been purchasing that exact chain lube – thanks a mil.

 

Excitement looms with the prospect of their new GT Zaskar 29″ bikes arriving in 10 days and cycling kit. But as with my CAL Zulu paddlers, handouts are not part of the deal, they have to be earned and thus deserved. So not all will be receiving a new racing machine . Three criteria have to be met:

  • 1 Finish within 15min of my fastest RMBCAL Zulu on a particular 2 1/2hr ride in the Valley
  • 2 Complete a X-country lap in under 22min at Cascades Mtb World X-Country Course in Pmb
  • 3 A-Batch rider according to Roag ranking.

As it stands, 4 Zulus will be smiling….

regarding the others, some are close – just a little more BLOOD, SWEAT & GEARS….

 

 

New beginnings….RMB Change a Life Mtb Team….

EARLY DAYS – IDENTIFYING TALENT….

You have most likely heard the saying “Mountain Biking is the new corporate Golf” – that it most certainly is. Everyone is doing it, so why not the folk in the rural impoverished Valley of a Thousand Hills, where raw Talent for “anything” runs riot but is never identified due to zero opportunity & support structures. To become a decent mountain biker, requires more than just muscle braun – life skills come into play and need to be developed. Life skills such as Discipline, Hard Work, Ability to Focus & Goal Setting to name but a few.

 NO STREET LAMPS DOWN HERE….

My dream of giving youngsters an opportunity to achieve their potential/experience life as we know it, through Mountain Biking, has been made possible by RMB, and I thank them immensely for that. USN & Hi-Tec have too stepped up to the plate with their support of this rural grassroots Mountain Biking initiative very much in the embryo stage of development.

Where we currently at…. identyfying Talent
I am pleased to have located an awesome ‘Clubhouse’ (mud rondavel), which we use as a base – where potential athletes are fed & bed and a place to store the bicycles until our container arrives.

SKILLS TESTING….

It really is exciting times – recruiting and identifying Talent for this new ‘Change a Life’ initiative, which is currently underway. Generous bike donations & cycling kit have allowed the Zulus to test themselves against the “1000 Hills” playground in which they live. Just recently 8 new practice Avalanche Bikes arrived, but only 6 have been allocated due to attendance & performance criteria being matched. I don’t make training easy and am always pushing the potential athletes comfort zones – unlike my Change a Life paddlers, their affinity to water is almost zero.

GOOD TO GO OUT YOUR COMFORT ZONE….

 Last week saw the RMB CAL Mtb Team attending their first race – 62km Wartburg Mtb Classic. Seasoned CAL multi-sporter John Ntuli placed a credible 13th overall. All the other new Zulu recruits (8 guys) “survived”, except for Sabelo, who had a nasty fall when the front wheel of his donated bicycle overtook him on a steep downhill, as you can imagine, he bought himself a lovely piece of ‘real estate’. Sabelo said he had to take some time out, his right side ached like hell. After a friendly passing cyclists stopped and poured some water over his head, he got up and continued on his broken bike with his not so comfortable seat.

SABELO WITH HIS NOT SO COMFORTABLE SEAT….

It was a tough route and the perfect eye opener for what to expect down the road.
Mthobisi Mzolo, in his Hi-Tecs and flat pedals, really impressed me. His 5th time on a bicycle, so he took part in the shorter 42km race and placed a credible 46th overall. He shows great vasbyt, never misses a training session and is a humble alround good guy.

MTHOBISI MZOLO – COMPLETE NOVICE – RAW TALENT….

This week the RMB CAL Zulus are riding to Pmb, sleeping over in the local backpackers and then we riding the 4 x laps of the World Cup X-country course the following morning. After lunch – my Zulus will ride back down into the Valley. They so excited for this outing, they having sleepless nights already….

CHANGE A LIFE UPDATE….

Change a Life Update ….

The ‘Change a Life’ Academy has now turned its focus to Paddling, especially with Dusi looming up ahead. However, those that are training for the Triple Challenge, still spend a fair amount of time on their bikes (here a major overhaul of worn drives drive chains is necessary) – I am so very grateful to Kobie for donating her old bicycle, which will go to Sizwe (hoping he will do the Cape-Epic next year) and to Michiel for purchasing a new bike for my top cyclist, John Ntuli, (45th in the 2012 Absa Cape-Epic). You have no idea how excited these 2 young lads are…. thank you.

Now having completed the annual fund raiser , ‘High Five Cycle Tour’, up in the Northern Province, I am pleased to say that 4 of my CAL Zulus (John, Mkhonzeni, Sizwe & Bethwel) played an integral part in helping behind the scenes, waking up most mornings at 2am to get the necessary done…. Great work from Usn’s Trevor & Riaan – the ice cold RecoverMax and Protein Fuel 25 after a big day in the saddle were real winners Inflatable Ball, amongst all the other Usn treats provided – thanks guys.

Expresso TV shoot

Expresso (via Usn) host Liesel van de Westhuizen visited our home to get the inside scoop re my Change a Life Academy. It was aired on the 14th Sept, here is the YouTube link to the show.

USN: At home with the Dusi Duke, Martin Dreyer (14.09.2012)
Affectionately known as the Dusi Duke, Martin Dreyer has invested a lot into the development of rural athletes in the Valley of 1000 hills. We sent Liezel to Durban for a catch-up with this amazing…
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xaWg6h5xdg

She also interviewed John Ntuli & Kwanda Mhlophe, which will be aired in a separate time slot.

A huge thanks to USN, as this was great exposure for my CAL Academy and for their continued support of my ‘Change a Life’ Academy – with the popular Muscle Fuel, fondly called the ‘Milkshake’ and CytoPower the foundation of its success.

Canoe Nite Race

Many of my CAL Zulus did a 15km Canoe Nite race in ‘Maritzburg – Paddling on the Flat water of Campsdrift, the pace was explosive – The best results were: Lucas 10th, with Kwanda a close 12th and was 3rd u/23. CAL U16 paddler, Mthobisi was the 4th Junior (which is U18). Mpilo Zondi was the 1st U/14 and got a little cash prize.

Lucas says to me after the race – “I think it was Mpilo’s first prize money ever, in that he didn’t want to show us how much was in the envelope, I even asked him to open it but he was too shy. He is so very happy”

Jock Claasens Canoe Race 

This popular Canoe Race is on a forgiving part of the Umgeni River, just below Albert Falls Dam.

The start is chaotic, as Paddlers run 50m with canoes, jostling for position to begin racing downstream for 16km.

Results: Lucas-6th, Eric-7th, Kwanda-8th, Mhlonishwa-11th, Mmeli-13th, Nhlanhla-18th, Emmanuel-38th, Bethwel-51st, Mthobisi-59th U16.

Fish River Canoe Marathon (1400 paddlers) – thanks Morne from Hi-Tec for so speedily sending my Zulus the Hi-Tec ‘Durango’ bootie – the ideal Aquatic shoe for this legendary Canoe Race which involves numerous portages around dangerous weirs. The CAL Zulus had a fantastic journey in all aspects – not only fun big water paddling, but also seeing a part of the country (Eastern Cape) which is quite desolate and poverty stricken – making the Dusi Valley look like an oasis.

This exciting venture by Hi-Tec, trying to raise added awareness and funds for the Martin Dreyer Change a Life Academy continues….

Please visit this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xaWg6h5xdg

to see how you could “Donate your Birthday”, starts at R90…. And for that you receive a customised CAL Buff.

Going forward: This coming weekend the CAL Zulus are assisting their Lembethe Canoe Club’s hosting of the Dam 2 Dam Canoe Race. A race which helps raise funds for the Club and literally finishes in their back yard – at Nagle Dam.