PHOTO STORY & BIKE CHECK: Benky’s rigs from the Guiness World Record setting ride

A few weeks back a group of riders including LSD aficionado Kevin Benkenstein went huge! The crew rode across the country drawing or GPS mapping out an image of a heart on Strava in what was the Philips #BackToRhythm ride. The goal was to raise awareness about heart health, specifically the danger of sudden cardiac arrest. 6 days, 1 900km, 11 000m elevation gain, 47 000 calories and 70 hours of bike time later – history was made. We just had to do a bike check on the rigs used.

PHOTO STORY on the ride

Pieter and Dion head towards the Ceres Mountains after descending Bainskloof Pass on day one.
The endless straight gravel roads of the Karoo were ever present for the first three days.

…… no turns here bro …..
The Karoo sunrise is always spectacular and taking it all in whilst on a bicycle amplifies the experience many times over.
A pitstop at JJ’s Kafee in Fraserburg is a must-do when visting the forgotten Karoo town.
Sunrise between Sutherland and Fraserburg in the Karoo,
Mapping out a record size heart on the GPS was the concept behind the ride. Or perhaps it was more the excuse to get out there and do rad rides?
Kevin Benkenstein with Pieter and Dion after completing their ride.

Who is Benky? Where does he live? What does he do for a living?

I am just a guy who really likes bikes. I love where they take you both physically and emotionally and how they can be used as a tool to discover new places, people, experiences and appreciation for the world around us and where we live. I live in KZN but am spending a few months in Cape Town right now following the birth of our baby.

For a living….I sell bikes and take people riding with Benky Rides, the goal of which is to take people beyond their norm to discover the world that is on our doorstep but so rarely visited. I am in the process of working out how to introduce true self-supported racing to South Africa too. It saddens me that this is something that we have all of the terrain and landscape for but just doesn’t exist yet, hopefully I have it ready soon.

The numbers from the trip?

  • 6 Days
  • 1,900km
  • 11,000m elevation gain
  • 70hrs of bike time
  • 47 000 calories roasted

What was the thinking and motivation behind the ride?

The goal of the ride was to raise awareness about Heart Health, specifically the danger of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, by both riding across the country and drawing a relevant image using the GPS tracking of our ride. The image ended up being a heart.

How long did you prepare physically for it?

I spent about four weeks focusing on being prepared for the long days on the bike by doing specific training but as you know there are quite a few more weeks of riding long hours that I did in the last few months which luckily gave me a good base to work from.

Anything you learned about your equipment, your body, your mind that you can share?

I learned that it has taken me four years of riding long to finally work out the best bike setup for riding fast on rough gravel roads. My bikes were both spot on and especially my race bike, the Curve GMX, blew me away on the dirt roads with its speed and comfort.

I think the body and mind stuff was more implementation than learning for me though. I made some pretty big errors in preparing for certain big rides last year and having realized what I did wrong and implementing the changes, namely timing my pre-ride rest better, was the main learning for me. I had good legs throughout which was great and really helped a lot.

Talk to a few of the component choices that you felt were key, and explain why they were please.

On the gravel/MTB: Rigid setup and aerobars were fantastic changes for me. I have never been able to ride aerobars due to the size of bike I ride and it being too long but now with Curve and a shorter reach I am super comfy on the aerobars. I also found that the rigid setup over corrugations was actually way smoother and thus faster. Suspension just can’t react fast enough to corrugations and so it becomes something that actually slows you down in the end, counter-intuitively. 

On the road bike 32mm tyres made me very happy, the roads were rough and we had a lot of rain so that extra contact patch made a huge difference to grip, comfort and ultimately speed too.

What’s next on the horizon?

I’ll work that out, I am trying to find something that frightens me. Hopefully it will be a long self-supported race. I haven’t done one since Race to the Rock in 2017 and I feel that I am getting closer to being ready to try my luck again.

Bike Check: Benky’s Curve Belgie Disc Road

  • Frame: Disc Titanium Frame — Flat mount and thru-axle
  • Curve Carbon Road fork
  • Curve G4T Wheels 
  • Shimano Ultegra Di2 running a 52/36 and 11-32
  • Stages Power Meter
  • Easton Handlebar, Stem and Seatpost
  • Retail: R85 000k

Bike Check: Benky’s Curve GMX Adventure Bike

  • Frame: Curve GMX Titanium
  • Curve 29er BP Fork (Adventure ready with 3 eyelets on each side)
  • Curve Carbon 30×30 Wheelset (DT350 Hubs)
  • SRAM Force 1 Groupset
  • SRAM XX1 Crank with Stages Power Meter
  • Easton EA70 AX 46cm Handlebars
  • Easton EA90 Stem
  • Easton EC70 Seatpost
  • Maxxis Aspen 2.25 Tyres
  • Retail: R85 000

Chapeau Benky! @kevinbenky

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