If there is one multi stage Mtb race, that should be on your bucket list, it is the FNB Wines2Whales 3 day stage race from Lourensford, Somerset-West to Hermanus. Grateful for the opportunity to ride the 2017 W2W, my Dubai partner and I decided to do it a little bit differently than everyone else. #getstokeddistribution was kind enough to supply us with DMR V12 flat pedals and #bokkiesonbikes, Knysna (Bernike, you are such an angel!!!) thankfully supplied us with the super cool FiveTen flat sole shoes to complete our footwear. After a few... OK, right.. more than a few skills clinics with Bernike #bokkiesonbikes at the Garden Route Trail park, off we went to W2W!!!!!!!!
Oh boy!!!! The first climb on Stage 1 from Lourensford to Oak Valley, Elgin was an 8km climb out of Lourensford towards Grabouw. The Cape Nature Portage is a rocky, narrow trail adjescent to Sir Lowry's pass, where only walking with your bike is allowed). This was anything but easy in the sweltering heat of 40 degrees by midday, but fitted with the right gear (our comfy flat sole shoes), up Sir Lowry's pass we climbed like goats.
Hitting the first rocky, technical singletrack on the Grabouwside, I really started to appreciate my flat pedals. It made such a difference being able to put my foot down at any given second, no matter how tricky or technical the single track or trail got. Some would say, a safer option perhaps? Yes. Wearing them because I'm scared?
No. After watching countless falls and spills in front of us on every stage due to riders not being able to unclip fast enough when the route would suddenly bottleneck up or down tricky technical switchbacks, the DMR pedals and flat shoes, have earned my utmost respect. It really is worth trying out. It is complete bull to say you need the pull up action with the normal clip-on mtb shoes all the time is a myth I dare anyone to prove. When it comes to riding more technical trails at a slower pace, it works beautifully. You ride with so much more self-confidence that halfway through the first day, you completely forget you are riding with flat pedals.
It is true when riding open gravel roads or simple flowing single track, clip-on pedals are better, but…. on a stage race like Wines2Whales, where speed and open gravel roads rarely exist and 95% of the beautiful daily route is overshadowed by very tricky, technical climbs with switchbacks, berms and A-frame bridges, the FiveTen flat sole shoes and DMR pedals, gives you the reassurance to just go with momentum and still be able to stop at any given second, should something go wrong up ahead. You don't have to ride worrying where or when your next fall is going to be. It really means the difference between a fall or a safe passage through any tight corner or technical, unfamiliar section.
To convince yourself. the next time your friends aren't looking and your ego allows you to try something different, go to the Garden Route Trail Park, join #bokkiesonbikes for a skills clinic where you really get the correct and good, solid advice on how to ride trail parks and berms correctly and do yourself a favour and try out the FiveTen shoes and DMR V12 pedals from #getstokeddistribution.
We were stoked to ride the Wines2Whales with our flats and we had so much fun being able to pass a struggling rider trying to unclip and say Yup.. should have worn your flat shoes bud. There were also numerous occasions, where we were reminded why mtbiking is such a dangerous, unpredictable sport, where accidents, really bad ones, can happen at any given moment. Whether it is on a flat, grassland, on a singletrack or technical downhill, if flats will keep me safer by as little as 10%, then they are worth trying.
We truly had an awesome time at W2W. Put the terror, the spills and falls of trail park riding behind you and try the flats for a change. It is really, really worth a try. Thank you Bernike #bokkiesonbikes, you are so kind, always so patient and dedicated to prove that anyone can learn to ride technical, trail park berms and switchbacks like Pro's and super cool David from #getstokeddistribution, thanks so much for supplying our DMR V12 pedals. You guys ROCK!!!