Danny Vogel participated at the Joberg2c, a 9-day mountain bike adventure. The 36-year old sports nut, from Mainz in Germany, told us about his project in late January 2016, to participate at this big race. Hence, he was looking for high-tech bike wear.
Danny is not a professional cyclist, he just wanted to achieve his personal goal! To spice up the entire challenge he decided to compete with a single-speed bike. His objective was to show that it is possible to achieve something great, even with simple means. Considering the South African trails it was definitely a tough target.
The Joberg2c consist to 99.5% of off-road paths – on rarely used or yet even unused trails! The riders are covering 900km and 13’000m of altitude difference on their way from the start in the south of Johannesburg to the finish at the KwaZulu-Natal coast!
His idea to start at this tough mountain bike race just with a single-speed bike sounded adventurous to us and it was the perfect occasion to test our new X-BIONIC® TWYCE collection!
Day one - Karan Beef (Heidelberg) to Frankfort Sports Grounds
The first stage led from Heidelberg to the Frankfort Sports Grounds.
Danny had to accustom himself to the single-speed first. Therefore, it was challenging at the beginning. It took him 5 hours and 15 minutes for the 116km. His mantra “Do what you love and do it with a smile” helped him through the tough sections.
Facts Distance: 116km
Day two - Frankfort School to Reitz Showgrounds
It is more than 93km and about 1000m of elevation from Frankfort to Reitz through the eastern part of Freestate. Here, you’re still riding through South Africa’s granary. On these endless straight paths between enormous corn fields, you can get an idea of the country’s infinite wideness. The inhabitant’s warmth is perceptible along the way and you always feel welcome.
Unfortunately, the first two days of the Joberg2c on the single speed are rather tough for me as it is very flat and I just have to find a good rhythm pedalling quickly to ride, at least, reasonable fast. But day 3 should promise a hilly stage profile and on day 4 we’ll face the real mountains.
Facts Distance: 93km
Day three - Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam
With 122km and roughly 1100m of elevation, day three was one of the longest days. We rode from Reitz to one of South Africa’s biggest freshwater dams, the Sterkfontein Dam.
The first 100km of the day are quite easy and fast through infinite fields and magnificent stream landscapes. With the ascent to the top of Mount Paul, the stage’s difficulty only started after about 115km. After already 5 hours in the saddle, this was a real challenge for every participant, no matter whether with gearshift or without. But, on the other hand, the reward was waiting at the top: a stunning view back to the dam and towards the finish! Despite sitting more than 6 hours on the bike, this was one of the most beautiful days for me.
At day 4 the Joberg2c participants started at the big water reserve “Sterkfontein Dam”. The stage started with a steep climb at the Kerkenberg. Later on, Danny drove through real African bush land enjoying the Serengeti single-tracks.
Arriving in Emseni he enjoyed a scenic view with the Drakensberg in the background!
On day five the scenery changed significantly. So far, the temperatures have been warm and the landscape was mostly green and overgrown. Now Danny feels the mountain air. The thermometer only showed 13 degrees and rain was accompanying the riders throughout the majority of the stage. He really had to fight riding the trails on his single-speed. Children along the course gave him motivational boosts and mentally pushed him through the day.
Facts Distance: 122 km
Ascent: roughly 2241m
Descent: roughly 1757m
Day six - Clifton – Nottingham Rd to Glencairn Farm – Sani Pass Road
Day six was a very tough day!
The backcountry tracks and trails have never seen a rider before. They led through isolated regions, which are inhabited by Zulu people. These technical single-trails included as well the so-called “Gumtree climb”, which is the steepest climb at the Joberg2c. The stage contained everything: scenic landscape, breathtaking views, warm-hearted people and challenging trails. Danny recapped this remarkable day that “it is a real privilege to be able riding through this stunning landscape and experience the people in this region. Actually, it is priceless.”
Facts Distance: 98km
Day seven - Glencairn Farm – Sani Pass Road to Mackenzie Club
Yeah – rest day for the participants of Joberg2c!
Of course, not really. But nevertheless it almost felt like one after the previous stages. It was an easy ride for Danny and the other participants, as the stage was just 82km long. The trails were especially prepared for the race. The highlight of the stage was the crossing of a floating bridge. That was fun!
Facts Distance: 82km
Day eight - MacKenzie Club (Ixopo) to Jolivet (Highflats)
Day seven was just the calm before the storm, though. Stage 8 was promising to be one of the most exhausting stages of the Joberg2c! 1,705m of altitude difference had to be climbed and the sun was blazing. After the brutal climb, the riders dropped down 35km into the scenic Umkomas Valley. This scenic downhill section was followed by another tough climb for about 65km.
This stage was very challenging for Danny and he fought through agony. But the experiences and views along the course were compensating for all the struggle.
Facts Distance: 99km
Day nine - Jolivet (Highflats) to Scottburgh
It’s time to head to the coast! Compared to the previous days, it was an easy roll out. Nevertheless, with a lot of mountain bike trails. The day started with trails through sugar cane farms and ended with an exhilarating finish at Scottburgh Main Beach at the Indian Ocean. Here, at the finish line, families and supporters were already waiting for their riders.
Facts Distance: 84km
Joberg2c – a really tough mtb race with a lot of up and downs but also a lot of fun and happiness – Congratulations, Danny!
But, How did Danny feel in our X-BIONIC® TWYCE Outfit?
Danny answers by himself:
The TWYCE series was perfect once again. Especially under this constant strain over nine days with various weather conditions. No matter, whether heat, dust, cold, mud or rain. In particular, the cushion of the pants as well as the perfect fit were highly satisfying and I never felt uncomfortable wearing the X-BIONIC® TWYCE. I was neither overheated nor cold. And I also realised that they’re odour neutral. Especially at stage races you have to wear the clothes twice as you can’t always wash them after each stage. The clothes had to endure the training in Mauritius, the extreme Cape Epic as well as nine tough days at the Joberg2c, but, nevertheless, everything still fits perfectly as before. Nothing is worn through or frayed and also, the stitching still looks like new. I’ve worn various cycling clothes in my past 15 years on the bike and the high-quality X-BIONIC® clothes are without a doubt the best and most unproblematic I’ve ever tried.
Last month we met again some fans of X-BIONIC® at the Velodrome Swiss in Grenchen for another track cycling workshop. Like in our two previous events there, experienced guides showed us how to ride on a wooden indoor cycling track. Track cycling is a great alternate sport for the indoor season here in Europe when the streets are wet or frozen. The average temperature inside the Velodrome is always above 20 degrees.
After the theoretical part, the workshop continued at the cycling track. Each participant received a test set and the prepared track bike for the ride. X-BIONIC® TWYCE, X-BIONIC® for Automobili Lamborghini and X-BIONIC® THE® TRICK bike wear were handed over for the test session.
After some laps, each participant enjoyed the fun and could increase his bike handling the more laps he rode. The most important thing about track cycling is to be attentive what happens before and behind you. On a track bike, you also need to ride a minimum speed of about 25 kph to get through the stiff turns and not to slip downwards. This is the first thing you learn when you ride a track bike.
The workshop lasted three hours at the track and everyone enjoyed it. Special thanks to our guide René and his mates, who did a great job again for a safe ride. If you want to ride on a cycling track, you need to attend the basic lessons before you can join public training sessions, you can find more information here.
We will return to the Velodrome this year, stay tuned!
At the start of September, X-BIONIC athlete Bernhard Steinberger crowned his career with the European championship title in ultracycling: he won one of the most difficult solo marathon races in the world, the Race Around Ireland (RAI). The Upper Palatinate native needed fewer than 100 hours for the 2150-kilometre race, making it a new German record at the same time.
The RAI is among the hardest races in the ultracycling scene and, this year, was held for the seventh time. Participants cycle around the island non-stop – even breaks are counted against their overall time. So the top riders try to stop as little as possible, reducing sleep to a minimum. Bernhard only slept for 93 minutes in this year’s competition, bringing him to an early victory.
The ultracycling specialist tells us his experience of the race in the interview below – have fun reading it!
How did you feel after this extremely difficult race?
Very well. My head was right back in “racing fever” mode the following day. My body took a little longer. I finished my training unit on the fifth day after crossing the finish line. Now I’m back in casual training and I’m just enjoying movement again. And of course, new sports goals are spinning around in my head again.
What was the best/worst moment during your 100 hours of racing?
Apart from Ireland’s incredible landscape, the best part was my 8-person support team. They motivated me, cared for my symptoms, kept me in good spirits and were at my back every second of the race, and we had a lot of fun racing. Although some of them were new, everything went just as well as if they’d been doing it for ages.
Some of my “old” support crew had work or family obligations. After all, they do this on a volunteer basis. When I threw my arms around each of my support team at the finish line, that was a very moving moment, yes, WE rocked the island of Ireland! My team is the greatest part of my success! After more than four days, I could finally enjoy a Guinness at the finish line.
The most difficult moment in the race was 80 kilometres from the finish line, when I heard that I was so far ahead that it would be impossible for the second-place rider to overtake me. After that, the kilometres got very long, and it was hard to stay with it. It’s hard to motivate yourself again and to focus when the goal is so close and you can really taste victory.
How did you prepare for this long period of strain next to your full-time job?
With long cycling units of up to 12 hours at the weekends. I also trained at the gym, especially working hard on my stomach and back musculature. I didn’t stint on stability training, either. I also integrated alternative sports like running and swimming into my training for that. I wanted to have as much fun with the training as possible. It was often borderline impossible to get through it all. Full-time job, training, organising everything for the race. And you still need time in there for rest and relaxation, too. That was unfortunately often neglected.
Stability training is athletic training and strengthens the trunk and stabilisation musculature. That makes more effective, ergonomic riding possible for cyclists, for example.
How many hours a week does one have to train in order to manage a race like this one?
I think it isn’t a question of the number of hours that allow you to finish the race in the qualifying period. There are a few core units that count and of course, you really have to have the ability to punish yourself. A long, relaxed ride just to count kilometres certainly isn’t the key to success. With just 15 hours of training a week, it should be possible to finish the race. It’s the quality, not the quantity, that makes the difference.
X-BIONIC is the best sportswear I’ve ever worn!
Did you also practice not sleeping, or sleeping very little?
Not really. I did work shifts. But you can’t really practice not sleeping. In the past, some successful athletes have tried to do just that, but they came to the conclusion that you just can’t train for “sleep withdrawal”. At most, it reduces the regeneration time you need between training units, and that just isn’t the point. During the race, everything just has to come together. You can prepare yourself mentally for the fact that there will be ups and downs. And a good team really makes a decisive difference. I only slept 93 minutes during the four days of the Race Around Ireland.
How did you eat during the race? Did you train for that in advance?
During the race, my support crew kept me well supplied with sports nutritional products like gels, bars, energy shots, iso drinks and protein drinks. But since psychology plays such an important role, I also like to eat gummi bears, pretzel sticks, pickles, potatoes, sausage and I drink soft drinks. Everything gets tested during training, but I can definitely say I’ll eat nearly anything.
How do you prepare your equipment? What do you have to pay special attention to when it comes to clothing?
My equipment was thoroughly tested during training. During the competition itself there are no experiments. Only trustworthy equipment is good enough for the race. Everything has to be comfortable, practical and of course weight is also very important. If you add it all up, if you’re carrying around too much unnecessary weight over that kind of distance, you can save energy fast with the right equipment selection. With the clothing, no seams or anything like that can be a bother; that would be disastrous in an ultracycling race. Every detail has to hug the body perfectly. It should be like a second skin. Too much clothing is restrictive, then you can’t move well at all.
How has your experience with X-BIONIC clothing been to date, especially for the long distances you regularly complete?
X-BIONIC is the best sportswear I’ve ever worn. There are lot of little components that make up success in sports. The same is true of X-BIONIC clothing. Every detail is refined and perfect. The aerodynamic characteristics and natural thermal regulation are supported. If I’m too hot, it cools me off. The nights in Ireland were quite brisk, though, at four to eight degrees Celsius. But I didn’t have to change clothing much. That saved me time and didn’t interrupt my racing rhythm. What really fascinates me is that X-BIONIC clothing lasts so long and is so functional. There are cycling pants I’ve been wearing for five years, and feel just as good on my body as the first day I wore them.
What is your favourite part of X-BIONIC? What is it you wouldn’t want to do without?
What does your planning for the future look like, do you want to defend your title next year in Ireland?
Where the European Championship in ultracycling will take place next year isn’t certain yet. A return to the Emerald Isle is certainly not out of the question. Ireland is the prettiest island I have ever seen. Just the landscape made me really love the race. The Race Around Ireland (RAI) is the ultimate test for both material and body from the point of view of weather and road conditions. In the future, I will naturally continue to pursue ambitious goals. They really motivate me to do my best.
Is the RAAM (Race Across America) something you can see in your future?
Of course. It’s the reason for all of this. A dream. The only true goal. But it’s especially a financial question, since the RAAM costs 30,000 to 50,000 Euros. And if I go to the RAAM, then I don’t just want to “roll along”.
Race Across America (RAAM)
The Race Across America (RAAM) is an ultra-long distance cycling race held once a year that runs from the West Coast of the United States to the East Coast. The goal is to finish the roughly 4,800 km with an overall height difference of about 52,000 m, within a fixed time limit. www.raceacrossamerica.org
What tips can you give to new enthusiasts who might also want to do this kind of marathon distances?
You should have a lot of fun in almost every training session! Patience and setting small goals are particularly important, both in training and in the race itself. Small injuries should be allowed to heal correctly and thoroughly. Daily stretching is very important, and you should especially never neglect the regeneration time. It’s only in the breaks that your body can recover and become faster and stronger. In training, you should consider: Less is often more! And never try pushing yourself to the breaking point, because sooner or later your body will get its revenge.
Facts and figures for the 2015 RAI
Distance: 2,143.7 kilometres
Altitude difference in metres: 22,655
Categories in which you can start:
*Solo (men and women) *Open bike class (men and women) [elliptical bikes, reclining bikes, etc.] *Tandem (men, women, mixed) *Team of two (men, women, mixed) *Team of four (men, women, mixed) *Team of eight (men, women, mixed)
Victory time for Bernhard Steinberger: 98 hours 22 minutes 16 seconds
That is the new German record and the second-fastest time the RAI has ever been run -> Race Around Ireland, the hardest bicycling race in Europe!
Ultracycling UMCA European Champion / European Champion in 2015 “Long Distance Cycling”
Bernhard’s total sleep time during this race was just 93 minutes. He also won the special “Armada Award” for the fastest time between timing stations 3 and 4, because he also went his fastest during that period.
Last Saturday we organised another exclusive X-PerienceDay at our headquarter here in Wollerau. The sun was shining and the weather remained perfect during the whole event. Some of our fans traveled very long distances to participate, for example from Hamburg or Frankfurt/M. in Germany.
After a short meet and greet in the morning, we introduced the company and our team provided insights into our product development department. During the running and cycling part, our guests tested X-BIONIC® for Automobili Lamborghini Bike wear and THE TRICK® run and bike wear.
The running team explored the closer area next to our office location. The landscape around our company is quite hilly but very cool for such a running event. The cycling team covered about 55 kilometers over a few mountains and had a lot of fun. Our video team filmed during the whole ride and used a drone for some cool footage.
The lunch after the sporty part was very delightful and we enjoyed our meal outside, it was very warm and sunny. The X-PerienceDay was very successful with nice people and we are looking forward to our next event in October.
The biggest cycling show in Europe opened the gates this week and started with the Demo Day. X-BIONIC® was there as usual to present the latest products and to offer test sets featuring the YUT:AS secret. We invited 40 exclusive selected participants among all applications we received for this great event. Everyone was excited about the upcoming tests and the weather looked promising too.
After a short briefing and the handover of the test sets, we separated in two groups and went for a short pre-lunch ride. The road bike team was really motivated and went about 30 kilometers in just 55 minutes. You can check out the STRAVA track of the first ride here: www.strava.com/activities/377236070.
The mountain bike team rode at the test track area next to the event area with our special off-road tour guide David from the Focus X-BIONIC® Team.
After the lunch break, the road bike team started a longer tour with 60 kilometers across the beautiful Bodensee area next to Friedrichshafen. Everyone liked the perfect cycling conditions and was happy with the test set of our brand new Twyce gear and the YUT:AS project. Check out the second road bike tour here: www.strava.com/activities/377236499.
The mountain bikers had fun as well and returned happy from the second test ride. The final thermo scan with a unique scan for each participant was a nice feature and visualised the temperature distribution. You can see it in our Facebook gallery.
Eurobike impressionsThe new X-BIONIC® Twyce VideoNew X-BIONIC® Bike Wear Catalogue