Caveman wins XTERRA Brazil- the long version

Conrad Stoltz Ilhabela Brazil

Memories from XTERRA Brazil when I first raced on the island of Ilhabela in 2008, consisted mostly of sandy beaches, warm ocean, strong sugary drinks and warm hearted people.

After 8 years, most of those memories proved accurate:

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela tourism buro VW bus

Our ride from Sao Paolo was legendary- the brand new “old” VW Kombi evoked memories of family trips to the Kalahari and school trips to rugby and cricket matches. Thanks to the Ilhabela Tourism Buro! Behind is our hotel- old buildings, palm leaf roofs and palm trees at the pool. Now you spikka my language…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Caicara Ilhabela tours

Despite the language barrier (despite my good French and bad American Spanish, we struggled with Brazilian Portugese) none the less, Fabricio from Caicara Ilhabela tours  set us up with town bikes, sailing, a Jeep trip (next time!) and importantly SIM cards- at least getting lost pre riding the coure is not what it used to be 8 years ago, and we used a Translate app to make sense of the menus…


Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela beach dingy

The beaches were just as beautiful as I had remembered…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Liezel Stoltz die Van der Merwes

But this time I had my wonderful wife AND a bunch of South African friends to share it with! Sipping cold ones with Princess Hotstuff and I is Dylan van der Merwe and his wife Jonine. Love fresh tropical fruit for breakfast- in the middle of “winter”.

liezel conrad stoltz brazil breakfast


Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela, South Africans

When I said a “bunch of South Africans” I meant a whole gaggle of them. I mean “us”. From L to R: Dylan and Jonine van der Merwe (Dylan Specialized Team mechanic who was wrenching AND racing), Caveman and Princess HS, Guy Veysey on the 1st day of his sabattical, and Dan Hugo- fresh off a win in Richmond. Not in the picture is Anelle Rabie who floated in from her office job in Santiago Chile the day before the race.






Conrad Stoltz Pizza and Malzbier



Brazilians know how to live well. Great pizza and excellent beer (Malz style) is a sure sign of a strong nation.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela fishing boats

Exploring the ocean side cafes, tranquil beaches, fishing hamlets…

Liezel Stoltz Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela old town

and the old town of Ilhabela -where the Confederation Cup soccer drew crowds outside (yes, the TV goes outside on a table) in bars and in the favellas on the hill sides.

Liezel Stoltz COnrad Stoltz XTERRA BRazil ilhabela sea shore

Its hard to take a bad picture here…

Liezel Stoltz Conrad Stoltz Hotel view  XTERRA Brazil

Our breezy room had a view of palm trees and curious black and sometimes bloody splotches against the ceiling where many a mosquito met his match with 1x fast and furious SA Netball player (retired)…

For those who dont know Netball, here, I GoogleTubed it for you: Netball game.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela family riding 2 up

Our window also showed scenes which fondly reminded me of Africa…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela motorbike transport

No trailer? No problem!

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Liezel Stoltz bike ride

Only 1 bike? No problem! Caveman style- for those who keep asking Liezel what its like to live life in the lap of luxury…

I know what you’re thinking- this trip was one big holiday, but in fact, I was in Brazil to race! But also to promote cycling,  XTERRA and an active lifestyle.

Brazil has a huge growing interest in endurance sports, and I was stoked to help Specialized Brazil, Oakley Brazil, Suunto Brazil and Squirt Brazil to spread the love.

In Brazil there is a fast growing demand for bikes and equipment. The kind of bikes and equipment to match the rigours of XTERRA racing…

Bike transport Brazil style Conrad Stoltz

You see what I mean by “growing demand for better bikes” And Clif Bars, by the look of it!

Grips- Brazil style Conrad Stoltz

Not sure if this home-made grip also serves as a holder for beer money…

We left the idillic island for Sao Paolo- the worlds 7th largest city by population…

Sao Paolo city Conrad Stoltz

A REALLY busy place

Conrad Stoltz Sao Paolo suspension bridge

A slight shock to the system after a 5 tranquil days on a tropical island…

Conrad Stoltz Sao paolo cart puller

Where traffic is so slow, you may as well pull your cargo in a wagon.

But we were there for business:

Conrad Stoltz Sylvia Hartmann Specialized Brazil

Specialized Brazil is in the very capable hands of Sylvia Hartmann – she organized a couple of bike shop appearances, a media hour and press events, and an unforgetful Churrasco (Braai)

Conrad Stoltz Oakley brazil

and a visit to her “old” job at Oakley Brazil HQ.

Conrad Stoltz Brunno de Oliveira Specialized Brazil

Road cycling in the center of Sao Paolo is tricky, but fortunately Brunno de Oliviera (Specialized Marketing) treated me to a blurry ride around a 1.5km park and night riding in the city. Stay in the bus lane and try to keep up- and be prepared to stop or swerve suddenly.

Conrad Stoltz at Pedal Power Sao paolo Danny

With Specialized dealer Danny and his crew at Pedal Power.

Conrad Stoltz Liezel Stoltz Ciclofemini Sao paolo

We heard the amazing story of Claudia and Marcello from Ciclofemini, who teaches people (mostly women and kids) to ride bikes- their story is quite inspiring and they have had more then 3000 people go through their school.

Conrad Stoltz Squirt lube Brazil

You can also get the good stuff in Brazil… Squirt LubeConrad Stoltz Specialized Pedal urbano


Specialized dealer Gustavo at Pedal Urbano. and a reporter Outside magazine.

Note the cute 26″ Specialized Epic (not to mention the white Manetas artwork kit) from 2009.

Liezel Stoltz Churroscaria conrad stoltz

Churrascaria, or Brazilian style Braai (BBQ) is an amazing experience. When what we thought was our coasters is green side up, waiters carrying long swords speared with various cuts of meat would swarm around you, slicing small pieces of delicious meat for you to catch with small tongs. To be eaten with baked banana…

Back to the race: I havent said much about the course, because words cannot quite do this course justice. Its more of an adventure then a race.

Pre riding and pre running this course (took me 4 outings to cover it all) made my quds so sore, I could barely walk for days afterwards. I never figured out if it was the steep downhill “running” or pushing my bike for looong sections… In hindsight, the trip to Sao Paolo was a much needed recovery camp.

Looking at the bike profile, it has more than 1000m (3300ft) of climbing and descending in 24km, the steepest grades being 25% uphill and 36% downhill. Obviously a muddy climb in a rainforest at 25%  is not rideable. In fact, its barely walkable…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil bike course steep

The tree behind the handlebar (and yellow tape) indicates vertical…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA brazil Ilhabela bike course view

If you had any breath left at the top of the climbs, the view took your remaining breath away. (This pic is about 3/4ths from top)

Conrad Stoltz Specialized Fast Trak 2.2 in Brazil clay

When this stuff gets wet, no tire will work. Here my 2.2 Specialized Fast Trak gripped on the grass, but the grass tore up a strip of clay.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Specialized Ground Control 2.1, Specialized BG shoe studs

I went with Specialized Ground Control 2.1 tyres for its good grip and mud clearing, and fortunately the few days leading up to the race was dry. I have’nt played rugby since primary school, and I’ve never needed rugby studs for my cycling shoes, but on this course they were a real advantage. The bottoms would clay up so badly, you gain a few inches in height when you get off.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Bike course pond

The bike course is incredibly scenic. The scenery simply wont fit into a camera. This is part of the actual course. On race day there were 2 long planks over the snotty rocks which made things easier.

Finally race day.

Dylan van der Merwe, Conrad Stoltz, Dan Hugo XTERRA BRazil 2013

Team Specialized- all from Stellenbosch. Dylan raced AG- hence the wetsuit.

Conrad Stoltz Caveman XTERRA Brazil interview

Finaly interview, with one eye on the rain on the higher slopes of the course- I just changed the rear tyre to a Fast Trak for dry conditions…

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela before swim start

Dan and I going “Its a bird! Its a plane! NO! Its Shonny Vanlandingham!!!!”

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela swim start

Run!!!! Shes chasing uuuuuuusssss!

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil swim leg

The swim featured what was a high dive (for the brave) off the pier half way through, but on race morning the tire was low, so if you survived the dive, you’d likely get stuck in the mud.

Dan led out the swim, I was 25sec back as the skies cleared and we tackled the cobbled streets windingthrough town and up hills so steep a few of us opted for smaller gears- Dan had a 28 round front ring (42 rear) and I had a 34 Rotor ring.

Going through the first wooded section where we climbed the mud wall, Dan asked if I had a multi tool with me. His cleat was loose. Not good. Sometimes they hold and sometimes they slowly become undone… Usually I carry the kitchen sink, but the day before when I held the heavy tool in my hand and thought about the 25% grades, I decided “nah, its a holiday race- I’m not taking a multi tool”. So I said “I have everything but…”

Conrad Stoltz Oakley Radarlock Path Photochromic

Sadly I lost my Oakley RadarLock with Photochromic lenses when a branch hooked them from my helmet up by the motocross track. Whoever you are, mate, enjoy your new glasses-  a gift from Oakley Sports Marketing South Africa (aka Seth Hulley) and the Caveman…

Conrad Stoltz Specialized 29er Epic XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela 3Zone

Coming into transition I had no idea of my lead. Gloves stuffed under the Race Against Poaching rhino logo on my leg.

Being the leader usually means the photographers (and sometimes aid station workers and marshals) are either 1) not ready or 2 not there yet because they’re trying to play catch up trying to shoot the men and womens races. So there are no pics of me on this  epic “run” route. The hills were so steep, there was a lot of seemlingly running in 1 place,  and a lot of walking huffing and puffing with hands on knees. And then the down hills were literally just freefalling straight down a small path cut through the dense forest. Over and under fallen trees, there were sections with ropes to help control the freefalling and the footing was “none”. This course would be the ultimate test for my calf injury which knocked me out of 4 races and scuttled my quest for an 11th XTERRA USA Series title.   Here is a picture of one of the flatter sections…

Conrad Stoltz Caveman XTERRA BRazil Ilahabela trail run

I tried to ride some of the run course to save my legs but for obvious reasons that didnt work out. Just like the one time Liezel and I went to run the last 3km in the woods about 30min before dark. 10min per km, thats no problem, right? WRONG. It took us over and hour and needless to say we stumbled around on these trails in the dark with nothing but fire flies for lights and bull frogs for music. We got seriously lost and when we saw some lights in the distance, I broke some bamboos and laid a bunch across a swampy creek (with or without pirannahs) and with a bamboo in each hand for balance we walked across and giggled home with dry shoes.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil trail run

Cute enough run course during daylight, but at night…

Conrad Stoltz Caveman XERRA Brazil Caveman 2013 51st  XTERRA win. Finally.  After all the trials and tribulations since my last XTERRA win in January- it feels good to be injury free and get the monkey off my back. My 1st race trying out the Hoka shoes- love the way the gobble up steep downhills and rough footing.




Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Felipe Moletta

Local favoourite Felipe Moretta posted a blistering run split to overtake Dan on the “downhill” and finish 2nd.


Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Dan Hugo

In the end is was all giggles and a happy revisit to Ilhabela. (Dan and Dylan raced here the year after hearing my stories and seeing the pictures of XTERRA Brazil)

Dylan van der Merwe XTERRA Brazil Conrad Stoltz

Dylan finished in style and with a smile. Hey! Those Oakleys look familiar!

Xterra Brazil conrad Stoltz 3Zone

This race is probably the toughest of them all- my quads were so sore, I could barely walk (let alone run after airplanes for 2 days- trying to get to Italy) afterwards.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA BRazil Specialized fans

Chapeau to all the athletes who came from far and wide to join in this XTERRA festival. There were 3000 participants during the weekend- apart from the full and lite XTERRA races, there were kids races, swimming races, a night run and trail runs. (of which the longest was 80km!?)

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil Ilhabela Bernardo Fonseca

A special thanks to Bernardo Fonseca, his team and their sponsors for having us over again. The business of XTERRA in Brazil is an example for the rest of the world of what can be done. I’m honoured to be part of bringing XTERRA and its lifestyle to the masses.

Conrad Stoltz XTERRA Brazil prize giving crowd

Prize giving (this pic form the podium) and the expo was huge- Brazilians know how to have a good time! Sadly none of the South Africans made it to the after party- when we got there when the doors opened at 11pm we were all partied out. (we did give it our all though- Carpiriniahs 5 meters from the ocean.

Conrad SToltz XTERRA Brazil caveman press

I was impressed with the amount of press who came out for the event. Despite it being the same weekend as a big road triathlon in Sao Paolo. Thanks to them for promoting the sport.

Conrad Stoltz caveman Liezel Stoltz sailing hobie cat Brazil

We’re excited to visit again sometime soon. Obrigado Brasil!

Conrad Stoltz Brazil Cycling Specialized


Stefan V 12-07-2013, 16:24

Conrad. Great post, always entertaining and inspiring. Backing you for cross-tri this weekend! Go big!


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