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36ONE MTB Challenge - a riders experience

36ONE MTB Challenge - a riders experience

Read about Ian Conradie's experience doing the 36ONE MTB challenge...

My name is Ian Conradie, 46 year old male, and have been doing mountain biking for approximately 3 years.  The love for this sport was instant.  I started off with doing events like the Nissan Trail Seeker, Stellenbosch Cycle Tour, Paarl Classic and many more.  I did my first Argus when it was unfortunately only 47 km.  

When I decided to do this particular challenge, I never could have imagined the life changing experience I was about to embark on! Not only for myself, but my family committed themselves to this just as much.  The challenge is 362km, 5500m if vertical climbing with a 36.1 hour cut off time.

I did my first 36One MTB Challenge in 2016, and as I powered over the finish to meet my family ready with my H24 Rebuild Endurance, I knew that this was only the beginning of great love for endurance riding. My second year doing the Challenge was better planned over all.  My gear was better suited, but I feel I could have traveled lighter.  One can easily be over prepared, so try and keep a balance.


I did most of my training by myself and did a lot of reading on how to train for endurance races.  I started to do trail running as well as running to help increase my fitness level.  

I also got some great training advice and tips from Justin Gray, who is among other things, a qualified Ironman coach and he gave me vital  training inf o like,how to build up to the race and when to start tapering down on my training.  His input made a huge difference in how I approached my training, tweaking here and there and also the race itself.

Most of my rides were more relaxed rides during the week and longer ones over the weekends, between 120 – 160km rides. 


When I am training I use a combination of H24 products, mostly Prolong, with a serving of CR7 for the long rides and CR7 for the shorter ones as well as when I run.  Herbalife Protein bar and Herbalife Express bar are excellent snacks on the road.  The night before a big event, I will have pasta as part of my carbo loading.

For this 36One Challenge, I packed a serving of Prolong for every 50km.  Herbalife Express bars are a great meal on the go, and fits right in your pouch.  I find that this challenge is so well organized that you get all you need at the water points.  (I just prefer my H24). FYI Justin is also a great believer in Herbalife products.

The Race

The race started at 18:00 and at quite a fast pace, soon to learn I have to check my heart rate otherwise I am not going to finish the race. The first water point was after 51 km. I checked in at the first Check Point at De Rust at just over 81 kms, 4 hours 30 min and 945m of vertical climbing, the second longest climb, in the race done and dusted.  The next stage was the longest with the least amount of climbs, 1575m of vertical climbing, in relation with the distance of 102km. The 2nd Check Point was at Volmoed. The night was quite cool with temperatures as low as 11 degrees and cooler at the beginning of the climbs. Every now and then I take a sip of my water bottle filled with Herbalife Prolong and my second bottle filled with CR7 Drive. This was what carried me through the 2016 challenge and the reason I swear by this combination for such grueling endurance rides. 

I reached Volmoed the next morning at 04:30, 183km and 2520m of vertical climbing done. After I refreshed and had a sit down meal I started cycling at 05:30. The next stage is the make or break stage. What lies ahead is 98km with Rooiberg pass, 240km into the race and 1680m of vertical climbing ahead. From here one has to stay focused because mentally you have to be strong and have to prepare yourself for this massive climb. As the day progressed the temperatures started rising. Some places the temperature was above 38 degrees with no wind to cool you down. I reached Check Point 3 at 12:20. Tiredness is creeping in and I had to show some character and stay focused for the last 80km, 1050m of vertical climbing to the finish line. I reached a low at 15:00 because of sleep deprivation. Many athletes bailed out because of heat exhaustion and tiredness. I kept pushing, slowly but surely. When I saw the Lategans Vlei  turn off, it was like I a relieve. The next 20 odd kms is mostly down hill with a tar road section. Once I reached the tar road, it felt I was riding on velvet. My wife and daughter waited for me at the finish line, sending me motivational WhatsApp messages which gave me that extra bit of energy that was left. I crossed the finish line at 19:10, 25:10! 365km and 5500m of vertical climbing done and dusted!! I conquered the 2017 36ONE MTB Challenge. No wonder its called : The Ultimate Race. I did it. If Gods willing, I will definitely be there in 2018!! Thanks to my wife and kids for the continuous support and understanding!

Written by:  - 3 May, 2017  
CP1 - around 10PM and still having fun
CP3 - Calitzdorp +_ 280km
Outeniqua Mountains
Wide open country
Aloa again...
Awesome views of the Little Karoo
Serene evenings ..
The road to nowhere..
If its wet then you get dirty :-)
Always time for the little things
Mountainous backdrops
Adventure biking at its best
Early morning start to fight the heat..
Back road country
When the going gets tough the tough walk