Professional guides to show the way at De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience

Lance Stephen

The De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience will offer a one-of-a-kind intimate guided experience in the Western Cape-based nature reserve De Hoop Collection, when the three-day event starts on November 20.

A total of three small groups, which consist of slow, medium and fast riders, will tackle various distance options over the weekend and each will be accompanied by an experienced and professional guide.

There will be an optional 19km Sunset Scramble ride on the Friday, followed by a 55km Flat Out on the Rock or 32km De Mond-Melkkamer Dash tour the next day. Festivities will end with a 62km Trails to Whales ride.

Lance Stephenson, a UCI level two certified cycling coach, has 10 years’ experience in coaching others, from reaching weight loss to national level goals, and now eyes the Olympics.

The 40-year-old works with beginners all the way to pros.

He particularly enjoys developing skills and techniques, which increases efficiency, performance and enhances the amount of fun one can have.

“At the event I’ll bounce around to all the groups and plan to organically assess each one and see how they struggle in certain areas.

“Working on those weaknesses is the best way to teach in this environment.

“It helps keep the flow of the ride and get them to understand in real time what they’d use that type of technique or skill for,” said the Grabouw local, who is a former national BMX, downhill and cyclo-cross champion.

Stephenson, who works with teams such as Cannondale Factory Racing and Ghost Factory Racing, added that he generally had to fix body position on bikes.

“Most people ride leaning forward too much and this causes lots of OTB (over the bars).”

He said that he enjoyed meeting new people and learning from them what their “issues” were.

“This helps me as a coach to look at what and how I teach something.

“De Hoop riders will get to learn from years of riding and racing experience and ‘short cut’ the hard lessons by avoiding them from what I can teach.”

Stephenson felt that it was extremely important to have an event of this nature during a time like this.

“People need something to look forward to, and to work off some of the mental anxiety that builds up during this testing time for our country.

“De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience is also special and unique because of its location and the vein in which it is presented.

“I personally love the event. It’s a fun place to be and a relaxing environment. It’s not race-oriented, so it lends itself to a much calmer and friendlier time on the bike.”

Paul Gibbings, owner of White Stone Cycles in Hermanus and a qualified Cytech bicycle technician, is the second guide who will teach his tricks.

The 40-year-old has been in the industry for approximately 15 years and has worked as a technician for pro teams.

“I’ve been riding and racing since 2001 and first got into the mechanical side by looking after my own bike for races. Then I started to help friends with their bikes too.

“On one of my travels to the United Kingdom, I completed my courses with Cytech, which is the European standard for bicycle technicians.”

Gibbings added that he was certified for Cytech level one, two and three, which included advanced wheel building, brake technology and suspension technology.

“While working for a busy bicycle shop in London, I was offered a position at Aylesbury Training Facility.

“My role as a workshop trainer/training officer was to lecture and qualify technicians in Cycle Engineering maintenance at all levels.”

On returning to South Africa, he freelanced as a professional technician for local pros such as Erik Kleinhans, James Reid and Matt Beers.

“This eventually led to working with Topeak-Ergon Canyon Racing Team, which consist of Alban Lakata, Kristian Hynek, Jeremiah Bishop, Erik Kleinhans and Sally Bigham.”

Gibbings said that hopefully with his many years of riding and being in the industry, he would be able to teach De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience riders something they had not learnt themselves.

“It’s satisfying to give back what I’ve experienced and learnt.

“I hope to teach them how to take better care of their bikes and improve their riding. It’s often the small things that we overlook which make the difference.”

He added that generally he tried to teach riders to be more relaxed on the bike by using certain techniques.

Lance Stephenson, a UCI level two certified cycling coach, has 10 years’ experience in coaching others, and is one of the guides at the three-day De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience, which starts on November 20. Photo: Supplied

“One of them involves setup and tuning, which always depends on the individual.

“I’ll also help share ways on how to keep your bicycle maintained correctly and effectively.”

Gibbings felt that it was crucial to have more events such as this during the time we were facing.

“I’ve missed events like this and being able to socialise on and off the bike with like-minded people.

“We’re social beings who love to ride our bikes, so what better way to de-stress than through the De Hoop Vlei MTB experience.

Paul Gibbings, owner of White Stone Cycles in Hermanus and a qualified Cytech bicycle technician, is the second guide who will teach his tricks during the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience weekend that starts on November 20. Photo: Oakpics

“It also helps that we’ll be riding in one of the most beautiful areas in our country.”

The renowned Cape Trails team, which consist of Denzel Scheepers, Brendon Booysen and Ashwell Swartz, will serve as the third guide.

They are the trail builders and bicycle mechanics for the popular Wines2Whales and experienced mountain bikers themselves.

With them creating amazing single tracks for the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience, riders can know that they are in for some thrilling and enjoyable riding.

Do not miss out on this weekend that will be filled with great fun, exciting riding and spectacular views.

Enter here: https://dehoopvleimtb.co.za/

More info: https://dehoopvleimtb.co.za/ and http://www.dehoopcollection.com/

The renowned Cape Trails team, who are responsible for building the De Hoop Vlei MTB Experience single tracks, will serve as the third guide at the three-day event that kicks off on November 20. Photo: Oakpics
 

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