Fears are educated into us and can, if we wish, be educated out. – Karl Augustus Menninger
This past Saturday we cycled in the Nissan Trailseeker #4 Van Gaalen. It was tough but we did well in our first Half Marathon (40km cycle)!
The week before we did a 40km cycle in three hours at Northern Farm and we felt strong and ready; bearing in mind we now know this route well. I have been experiencing terrible tummy cramps during cycles so have been doing research on what to eat before and during exercise – but this is content enough for an entirely new post so will expand on that at a later date.
Mentally I have this fear when I have to ride the technical stuff. I hesitate at dropoffs, struggle to jump obstacles and go into a complete panic at mountain bike bridges which have been built into the trails. I get off my bike and push it across. This is really bothering me, I hate not being proficient in something – especially in something that I would love to be doing well in. I love the adrenaline rush and love the feeling of overcoming something I have struggled with even more but once I have a mind block it can take me forever to get past it. I breathe, prepare to drop down a steep rocky hill or cross a bridge or jump a massive log in the path but then as soon as I get there I hesitate and pull on my breaks and as every mountain biker knows; “Hesitation equals devastation”.
The race is described on the Advendurance website as follows:
The NISSAN TrailSeeker Van Gaalens starts on the Van Gaalen Cheese Farm, an active cheese factory in the Skeerpoort area. An abundance of river bank single track, extreme climbs and technical descents ensure 1st hand experience of the Magalies mountains.
This is an extreme challenge, especially when the area is blessed with rain. We offer 10 km, 20km, 40km and 70km routes of extreme mountain bike exhilaration that is not to be underestimated by even the most extreme mountain bikers.
This family outing offers day-long excitement for everyone in the family. The NISSAN chill zone again offers a relaxing area and the restaurant on the farm ensures that you have no excuses to leave the farm hungry or thirsty! Great meals and snacks are on offer, as well as a beer garden to quench your thirst while sharing war stories with your mountain bike buddies.
Van Gaalens has a reputation for extreme weather conditions… from blistering heat, to pouring rain. Riders must ensure that they are prepared for any eventuality.
The 2012 NISSAN Van Gaalens route is very similar to 2011, yet slightly refined and totally diverse, sporting riverside single track, grasslands, jeep track, water crossings, wicked downhills, fast, flat open sections and steep-as-can-be uphills. Accept it, we’ve definitely pulled the rabbit out of the hat with this one, and thrown everything at you to show you what mountain biking is all about!
The route building crew has been hard at work to reduce congestion on route. New single tracks have been built, essentially turning some tight and technical sections into exhilarating “Dual Track”.
Bring your family along and make them all experience the excitement of mountain biking!
About 80% of the route was single track with intense technical obstacles – the rest was very steep rocky uphills followed by exhilarating downhills.
I was quite impressed with my downhill cycling during the race but the crossing bridges and jumping obstacles part of my ride needs a lot of work. I walked up the uphills and got off my bike every time there were bridges or where I need to learn how to jump. I need to do something about my balance (yoga should help here) and I need to take full control and command of my bike.
Unfortunately I couldn’t take any pictures of the beautiful single track sections (need a Go Pro) but it really was such an incredible route!
I explained my anxieties to Wes after the race and he paid a visit to Builders Warehouse first thing on Sunday morning. He bought some wood and built ramps for me to practise on. We spent about two hours on Sunday placing the ramps all over the gardens of the golf course where I live. I practised jumping onto the pavements and crossing imaginary rivers using the plank Even though there is just grass on either side and I could probably cycle these hills and dips without the plank in place – I would hesitate and fall, countless times. There were tears; my chest constricted, my heart was pounding, I was sweaty and most of all felt so stupid and useless. Wes was unbelievably patient with me, rubbing my back and tenderly kissing my forehead telling me not to worry just because I am scared now doesn’t mean I will never be able to do these things with ease. He waited until the lump in my throat ceased and my breathing returned to normal (I have asthma so once my breathing shortens it takes me a while to recover) all the time trying to keep my focus on what I could do and eventually I did cross the plank and got up the little hill on the other side without landing on my back with my bike on top of me.
It is also good to know I am not alone.
- For example there are even specific camps for mountain bikers to learn techniques such as this one in France. A little excerpt from their website:
“Because so many of the techniques needed to excel in mountain biking are counter-intuitive, it takes time and practice for riders to learn or for that matter un-learn what nature has taught them. Even the most basic skills. Braking, position, shifting, weight transfer etc. are not things that everybody does well and especially not at their first steps. It’s our job to create lessons and activities to gradually teach this with fear in mind.
Hesitation is the other nemesis of mountain biking. It undermines every rider at one point or another. So very often a rider would succeed a trail, drop, jump or corner if he could avoid hesitation. Hesitation on it’s on own is the manifestation of self doubt, fear of consequences and disbelief that something is possible. It’s the quintessential killer of fluidity, speed and indirectly, precision. Understanding that as instructors permits us to think like a student and see through his or her eyes”
- The #1 way to get over downhill mountain biking fears
- Overcoming Fear While Mountain Biking
- No Hesitation
- Fear of Falling
- 5 Life Lessons on Success from the Mountain Bike Trail
- Mountain Bikers! How to Overcome Fear on the Trail
I suppose “it’s all relative” when it comes to people’s fears and abilities. I will overcome and improve respectively. I have a great coach after all 😉
Our official results…
|Category||Finishing Time||Winning Time||Position Overall||Discipline|
|Me:||Nissan Trailseeker #4 van Gaalen 2012 40km||Senior Women||3:30:34||1:27:49||743||MTB|
|Wes:||Nissan Trailseeker #4 van Gaalen 2012 40km||Senior Men||3:00:00||1:27:49||654||MTB|
So proud of Wes finishing in three hours, amazing!
View some pics on facebook here, it is just a pity they don’t take more photos of the actual route terrain.
The setting of Van Gaalen Kaasmakerij is gorgeous and quite frankly what more do you need than a beautiful view. There is also a great deli with a vast variety of cheese for sale and all sorts of gourmet goods. I bought a massive slice of black peppercorn cheese and it was delicious!
The Food and Drink
In my post about the last Nissan race I mentioned that the choice of food at the end is lacking (Going down and dirty) but this time Spur had a stall and there were chicken & beef pregos on sale in addition to the usual burgers. We chose to eat at the Van Gaalen Cheese Farm Restaurant and both enjoyed a delicious Caesar salad.
Everything on the menu is of course cheese based, note the Cheese Schnitzel – after asking whether it was a beef or chicken schnitzel the waiter explained to us that no, it is just cheese.
We LOVED doing the Half Marathon as it is far more exhilarating than the 20km route options and we will definitely be opting for this longer challenge in the future. As always, Nissan organised the race very well and we had no complaints. I would also recommend a relaxed lunch out at Van Gaalen and definitely budget for some cheese purchases!
This weekend we are off to Lion Sands for a wedding and so for the first time since buying our bikes on the 2nd of June we will not be cycling. A bit of a break in this luxurious and gorgeous setting is welcome and I cannot wait to celebrate a beautiful friend’s special day.Click on images to view larger versions.