Jennie Stenerhag

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Nashua Grape Escape 3 day stage race + MTB Argus


It was great to come back to the race that really made me enjoy mountainbiking and the first race that I did for the second time:-). Last year I rode this with Nicola and had lots of fun but this year they had changed it to a solo race. It is a very nice race with great routes! Thank you cycle tour trust for a great event!


We also had some support from my parents who arrived from Sweden the day before the start:-)


Stage 1, Riebeek Kasteel – Wellington 78 km with 1500 meters of climbing.


It was a fast start of the race thanks to some international top riders in the mens field, I lost the bunch and the only girl still sitting there was Cathrine Wiliamsson. After a while we formed a small bunch with some guys and me, Ariane, Candice and Cherise and we rode like that until the big climbs started, there it all got splitted. I lost Candice and Ariane on the hills and also had a bad fall on one of the steep down hills. I rode on my own for a long time, hooked on to some guys on the open flat roads and we caught Candice who had had a flat. I rode together with her for a while when we both dropped from the guys. She got away by the end on the last single track tho. I finished 4th, 7 minutes behind Ariane who won and 40 seconds behind Candice.


Stage 2, Wellington – Wellington 60 km with 1550 meters of climbing


Today was the single track heaven! 35km of the 60 was on technical single tracks, it was great fun! I rode well on the single tracks but had no power on the long climbs. I lost the first 3 girls already after a few kilometres when I was behind a crash in the bunch, so I was never really in the game today. I also lost a bit of motivation from that. I still had lots of fun on the single tracks, especially since I know most of them by heart from all the tours we do with iRide Africa out this way. The organizers had also put a bit of extra excitement in the race with the Nashua advantage, a narrow bridge over a smaller river crossing, it was a bit nerve wracking but all went well! When I was almost at the top of the massive climb on Bainskloof Hanlie caught up with me. We rode together down the awesome single tracks and stayed together to the finish line, we crossed it about 14 minutes behind Ariane who won in a sprint with Candice.

Chatting to Candice at the start

Nashua advantage, we all got a bottle of wine with our personal lable at the finish:-)


Fighting the way up Bainskloof pass.

The gravel road we did up Bainskloof pass



Stage 3, Wellington – Boschendal 70 km with 1550 meters of climbing


Somehow I found my legs today, and had the best feeling of all 3 days. I got away a bit behind the other 3 girls but soon caught up with them and when we started the longest climb of the day already after 10 kilometers we were all together, I was leading us up for a long time and it all felt good. We also had lots of fun on the single tracks that took us down the mountain, all four still together. Candice got away at the bottom of the down hill and soon Ariane was also away. I rode for a while with Cathrine but lost her on the next long up hill. Could still push a bit more then the other days so got a bit upset when I missed a turn off at one point. I had just been chased by an angry dog and was a bit shaken and did not pay attention and missed the turn. When I eventually came out on a tar road without signs or people I realised I must be wrong, turned around and found the turn off, not sure how much time I lost, think somewhere between 3-4 minutes.

I passed Ariane who was fixing a puncture and I did my best to stay in 3rd place on the day and managed to do so. Later I was informed that Ariane had taken someone elses bike, since that is against the rules she got disqualified which meant that I got 3rd overall. I was of course happy with a podium spot:-)


Craig had a good stage race, he was right up there racing with some of the pros, and if there had been a vets category he would have won it:-)



Finishing the 3 day stage race!



Podium after 3 days


Day 4, MTB Argus at Boschendal, 66 km 1100 meters of climbing


The day after the stage race it was no rest! MTB Argus was at Boschendal. It felt a bit like being behind from the start when Mariska and Theresa showed up fresh from not doing the stage race, no surprise that they took first and second spot! It was a tough route with a lot of steep climbs and rocky down hills. I could stay with Cathrine for about 20 km and saw her until 32km and then I dropped too far to keep contact. She came 3rd and me 4th. It got very hot out there and the last 10 km was terrible, very technical and the last climb just seamed to go on and on. When we eventually got to the top and was hoping for a down hill it was so technical and rocky and the concentration was lacking a bit. Everyone seamed to agree after that the last part was a bit unnecessary.


Me and Cathrine after MTB Argus


So after 4 days of hard racing it is now time for some good rest, only 2 more weeks to Epic!!


Me and Craig will ride as a mixed team for “Big Tree foundation”, they have been one of 2 official charities for the Epic since the start. They collect money to buy clothes for children in rural communities. Some of them does not have clothes so that they can go to school and some only have one set! We will try to create awareness and hopefully help to get some donations in. You can donate on


Some more pictures from the Grape Escape

My parents and Craigs parents were all there at the finish of the stage race.

Mom and dad at the top of Bainskloof

Craig pushing up the hill


Chatting to Hanlie after our race together:-)


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