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Issue #001 - Table of Contents


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1) Poland Mountain Bike Challenge

2) Ex-Protea gears up for gruelling Cape Epic

3) Costa Rica: La Ruta - Endurance Racing



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1) Poland Mountain Bike Challenge

Have you done the TransAlps, ridden TransRockies and ticked the box next to TransWales? If you have it sounds like you need a new challenge - Poland's Mountain Bike Challenge stage race, perhaps?

2008 marks the event's fourth year, though it's slipped beneath the BM radar until now. Poland has a lot to offer MTBers, though ask any UK rider and Poland probably won't be the first destination to leave their lips. The organisers of the MTB Challenge are hoping this event will change that though.

Boasting 14,000m of climbing in the 500km distance the race covers, and adopting a similar format to the more popular stage events, the race looks like a winner. Last year over 450 riders took part from 20 countries around Europe and further afield.

The country has a lot to offer too, and the organisers are keen to exploit many of the natural attractions and top riding.Though not as high as the Alps or Rocky Mountains, the Sudety Mountains offer substantial singletrack and spectacular views.

Like other stage races around the globe, Mountain Bike Challenge can be competed by teams of two, with categories including Men, Women, Mixed, Masters and, for pair whose combined age exceeds 100, the Masters 100 class. New for 2008 however is the option to compete in the solo category.

The event takes place 26 July to 2 August.

David Arthur

2) Ex-Protea gears up for gruelling Cape Epic

Cape Town - Brian McMillan, one of South Africa's cricket legends and his son Ryan, will take up the challenge of this year's Absa Cape Epic mountainbike race from March 28 to April 5.

The event, in its fifth year, starts in the beautiful Garden Route town of Knysna and finishes 950 kilometres and nine days later at Lourensford Wine Estate.

It will lead participants from around the world up approximately 18 529m of climbing, including some of the most magnificent passes in South Africa.

"Some of Ryan's mates did the Epic last year and when he joined them at the finish at Lourensford, he decided we had to do it. I've never cycled before and immediately took up the challenge," said McMillan on Monday.

"Of course Dan Nicholl set it all up with the help of Kevin Vermaak (director and founder of the Cape Odyssey and Epic) and then bailed out," he added with a chuckle.

"We've been training for two and half months and although I can feel it, I don't think one can ever train enough for this event. Our motto will have to be 'vasbyt, aanhou, moedhou'. At the moment we're training approximately 12 hours a week, including mountainous terrain in the Cape Peninsula.

"From next month onwards we'll try to do 15 hours per week, which is well over 200kms."

Asked what would be the most important motivating factor, his response is simply: "I can't afford having Robbie Kempson finishing and not me. Also, I'm not getting any younger, so it's the perfect time to set myself a goal like this one.

"I did my MBA degree at the age of 38 and did approximately 30 hours of study a week whilst working full-time. I suppose 15 hours is manageable.

"They plan to finish the Epic and also have a lot of fun along the way.

"At the end of the day, this is supposed to be an experience of a lifetime."

His advice to other participants: "Don't be in my way when I go up or come down the mountain. I'm a loose cannon on the mountain!"

With regards to the Big Tree Foundation, the official charity of the Epic and Odyssey, McMillan reckons it would be absurd not to use this opportunity to raise funds.

"As a sportsman, it's always a great privilege to give something back to the community. It's fantastic that there's a spin-off for others. I'm being sponsored by Toyota and Cycle Lab.

"Toyota is giving me R100 for every kilometer I complete and all the funds raised will go to Big Tree."

His comment on Kempson's aim to climb Kilimanjaro after the Absa Cape Epic if everything goes well was simply: "Rugby players are soft compared to cricketers. The Absa Cape Epic will be Kempson's Kilimanjaro!" - Sapa February 04 2008 at 03:27PM

3) Costa Rica: La Ruta - Endurance Racing

Chirripo National Park in Costa Rica boasts the country’s highest point above sea level. Cerro Chirripo stands well above the surrounding rain forests at 12,532 ft. For peak-baggers, it’s a relatively easy hike to the summit. Most travel guides and websites suggest a two day approach. The first day you would hike for 6 or 7 hours to reach Crestones Base Lodge at 11,063 ft. The second day you would make the summit, snap a photo to prove you were there, and then head all the way back down.

While I didn’t leave myself enough time for realistic summit attempt I couldn’t resist the “because it is there” lure of hiking part way up. On my way up the trail I was passed by runners heading back down the mountain. Had I not previously read about an annual running race up this mountain I would have been a bit confused. Even so, it was awe-inspiring to see these athletes train on a mountain trail that doesn’t even give the casual hiker’s lungs a break. The multiday, 21-mile, 6000 ft elevation gain, round-trip trek gets burned up in less than four hours on race day. The host at my hotel in San Gerardo de Rivas explained to me that the record time in this race is three hours and 17 minutes. Amazing! This year’s race takes place on February 17.

The mountain bike racing scene in Costa Rica is not lacking. The mother of all mountain bike races in CR is the La Ruta de los Conquistadores – a four-day cross country (literally) mountain bike race. This race traverses the country from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The course takes riders up Irazu Volcano at an elevation of 11,259 ft. La Ruta de los ConquistadoresThe official website describes the race with the following eloquent summary, “after four hard days of mountain biking, participants will have accumulated 12000 meters (40000 ft) of climbing, will have experienced 8 different microclimates with distinct flora and fauna and will have faced many obstacles like river crossings, cold mountain passes, hot tropical jungle trails in this 360km (225 mile) adventure.” This year’s race is November 12-15 and registration is still open!

Another Pacific-to-Gulf race is the Coast-to-Coast Challenge. This event is a six-day adventure race involving cycling, paddling, climbing, and, of course, navigation. The organizers of this race also offer a host of other adventures races in Costa Rica. For those interested in international marathons, Costa Rica offers the Jungleman. This race is a 26-mile off-road event held annually in Puerto Viejo. The course traverses deserted Caribbean beaches as well as shaded trails. Unfortunately, just this week the organizers, Exploraciones Verde y Azul S.A., have canceled the February 2008 race citing lack of support from sponsors and the government.

Don’t let that hold you back. Costa Rica is full of exciting adventures whether they are organized races or not. The country is very accessible and tourist-friendly. Continental Airlines is a popular carrier for Americans. Iberico Airlines through Madrid is an accessible airline for Europeans. Buy yourself a ticket to San Jose, pack up your bike and running shoes, and head to Central America! January 29th, 2008


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