Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized/MR Price) and Jock Green (Ghost/BBT) are considered to be two of the really hard men of South African mountain biking are going to race the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek Tour (18-23 October).
They might not win the six day tour through the Southern Cape and Klein Karoo mountains but it is a given that during each stage they will mix it up with the race-leaders because they are like two “diesel engines” once they get going riding at their own steady pace.
Who knows with a little bit of luck they might just be able to pull off a podium finish during one the stages.
According to Swanepoel and Green their first goal is to secure an overall top five, but if their legs hold up they will be challenging for a top three finish.
Green is quite realistic about what awaits them.
“Anybody who has ridden the MTN Attakwas ultra-marathon over 130km will agree that it is arguably one of South Africa’s toughest one day races and now it is also the first stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek,” Green said.
About every cyclist will agree with Green. The route goes through the Klein Karoo to the finish at Little Brak River in Mossel Bay. What makes it really hard is the 30-kilometer long Attakwas jeep trail across the Outeniqua Mountain Range. It comprises of some of the most technically demanding jeep-track and trails found in South Africa.
At a rough estimate the riders will be climbing approximately 2 600 meters on the first day of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
Green makes it clear that on any given day he prefers racing through and over the natural obstacles of the Cape Fynbos.
“It is tough but doable as long as you are prepared to push yourself deep into the red.”
Green’s conversion from being one of South Africa’s top road cyclists who even captained the national road team to a full on mountain biker is remarkable.
Nowadays it is hard to get him to talk about road cycling. According to Green at the moment the only true cycling challenges in South Africa are to be found in mountain bike events.
He gets quite aggravated once he starts talking about the current state of South African road cycling, according to him nowadays youngsters are not prepared anymore to make the big sacrifices to become top international road cyclists.
“For them it is all just about easy money.”
“In mountain biking every race has its own unique challenge and if you have not put in the hours on your bike you will suffer. It is a guarantee.”
With regards to our game plan for the DCM Cape Pioneer Green said that Swanepoel and I will opt for a more conservative approach.
“As a roadie turned mountain biker I have learned the hard way that one sure way to “kill” yourself quite early on during a mountain bike tour is to go guns blazing from the moment go.
“In a tour like the DCM Cape Pioneer you can afford to lose 20 minutes on day one and say 15 minutes on day two and still have a realistic chance of getting a good result. That is if you are not intimidated by what your rivals are doing and are prepared to ride at your own pace.”
The DCM Cape Pioneer is Green’s fourth mountain bike tour. He has already competed and completed the Sabie Experience, Sani2C and Cape Epic.
Swanepoel is quite excited to be competing in a mountain bike tour in the Cape especially since he missed out on last year’s Epic because he broke his elbow in the Sani2C. This year he could not ride the Epic do to some sponsor difficulties.
“I know the DCM Cape Pioneer is going to be a tough challenge but what excites me is the fact that I am riding with Jock. It is not often that you get to do mountain bike tour with one of your best friends.”