Each season starts long before the first race. It also does not begin in the same year but has a lifetime that is determined by the athlete. Although this is true, the build-up to a new season always proves itself within the first few race/s. That is why athletes like Matthys Beukes, Philip Buys, Phillimon Sebona and Pieter Du Toit use the festive holidays to prepare themselves for the next season of racing. Building a good base during the holidays proves itself better than you might think, especially in the first race of a season.
Phillimon Sebona warming up in the early morning hours before the 2019 Attakwas Extreme. Photographed by Milan de Beer/MEDIATIC Studios.
The "Atta" is a lot about survival, whether you are battling for the win or struggling to keep your pedals turning at 100km. We asked our athletes what advise they have regarding the race and how you can make the gruelling 121 km easier and thrive through the farm roads, mountainous climbs and rocky descents.
Young gun, Pieter Du Toit battling it out against DSV Pro Cycling mountain biker Arno Du Toit during the 2019 race. Photographed by Milan de Beer/MEDIATIC Studios.
Pieter Du Toit is the youngest cyclist within our team and has only in the past 2 years, been introduced to ultra-marathon distances. During the 2018 season, Pieter completed his first Multi-day Marathon Stage race alongside Phillimon Sebona after Philip Buys fell ill unsuspectedly.
"The race is super tough, a good thing to know from the start. Ride as hard as you can, for as long as you can. Keep hydrated and push through the tough times." ~ Pieter Du Toit
Phillimon Sebona, on the other hand, has completed every long distanced race there is, including the Munga which stretches over 1000km across South Africa. "It is essential to stay in a bunch of riders. Don't isolate yourself from the rest of the mountain bikers and you'll be just fine, especially within the first 50km."
Philip Buys, making waves after getting dropped by the leading bunch at WP2. Photographed by Milan de Beer/MEDIATIC Studios.
According to Philip, his equipment makes his job as a professional mountain biker much easier. Especially on longer races like the Attakwas. "Riding with more reliable equipment, and riding slower and a bit slower is always wise when you are facing a long race like the Atta, where you could lose up to 15 minutes if you stumble over a mechanical problem. Manage yourself well, as many riders start facing extreme levels of fatigue during the last 20km. The Attakwas is a great goal for the start of the season and keeps me motivated during the holiday season."
Matthys Beukes, the owner of the Attakwas rock and 3-time champion, also advises keeping the start to a relative pace, not burning your matches before the mountains try and break you. " The final 60km is always hard on you and your bike. Play it safe and save yourself for the last half of the race. I would advise you to keep hydrated and take in enough carbohydrates to sustain your effort.
I enjoy the Attakwas as it is one of the toughest races on the mountain biking calendar. It is also significant that it takes place around my home-town. Having my friends and family there for support is always unique and adds to the excitement of the race."
Matthys lifting his 3rd Attakwas rock, hoping to make it 4 out of 4 in 2020. Photographed by Milan de Beer/MEDIATIC Studios.
Good luck to everyone competing at the 2020 Atta. Don't just #surviveattakwas, #thriveattakwas.
We are the African MTB Team. We are Team PYGA Euro Steel.