A Podium at Lynford

The annual Clover Lynford Super Classic was another great event this year. Leaving home at 5:00am to make the 8:30 start I didn’t know what weather to expect however, I soon found my answer, HOT and sunny. With a quick registration it was off to do a short warm up ride. Which took us- Darryn Purtell, Justin Porteous, Brandon Venter, Hayley Smith and myself- up the 700m hill to start the race.

I didn’t take long before the legs were warm, thanks to the hill and the weather and we were ready to go. Like every other year the 45km was made up of 2 different laps allowing the spectators to witness the action at around the halfway point. With Burry Stander back in South Africa and on top form after The UCI World Championships everyone knew it was a race for second but we would try put up a fight.

Like every year the race started with the shot of a gun and we were off down a fast 100m decent shortly followed by the first hill of the day. Up the first hill a group of seven including myself were able to get away from the bunch fairly early. As the group of seven was about to crest the first hill there was an increase in pace and the group split into 3. Burry was able ride off the front followed by a group of now four, which soon became a group of 3 as Andrew Hill pulled out due to illness.

The next few kilometers Kyle Dorkin, Alan Hatherly and myself were able to work well together to open our gap away from anybody else as we closed the gap on those ahead. However all good things come to an end, and up a short steep climb my legs were unable to match that of Kyle and Alan, and they were able to ride away from me. After a few deep breaths, I got back into a comfortable rhythm and started my own personal time trail as the gap of the two ahead stayed at about 40sec for the next 20km.

The truly amazing double single track back down to the start/finish at the end of our first lap allowed for my legs to recover before the 4.5km hill awaiting on our second lap. At the bottom of the 4.5km hill my legs struggled to maintain a good cadence allowing Alan and Kyle to pull away and Matthew English to close in behind me. However, about halfway up I was able regain my strength and saw I was now catching Alan who Kyle was able to drop. With the encouragement of knowing Alan was lying 3rd overall and if I was able to pass him I could make the podium I was able to reel him in just before the top of the hill.

With a quick little sprint I was about to pull a small gap over Alan, which seemed to open quite quickly over the next 3km or so. Knowing the final 4km would be fairly flat and down hill I gave it my all to ensure I could stay 3rd overall. With 7km left to the finish my legs showed signs of strain as I could feel some cramp coming on. (Quick tip- If battling with cramp try using Eno’s and Coke while spinning your legs in a lighter gear). By spinning my legs I was able to avoid any serious cramping and enjoy the very fun last 3km.

I only felt the real effects of the 38°c heat, at the finish as I was unable to catch my breath until a 10min session of lying flat on my back in the shade unable to move except for the occasional cough because of the dust. Once I was able catch my breath and have a good swim in the pool it was time for prize giving and a moment to stand on the podium. Thanx for the support from all the South Coast riders who almost made the trip up to Lynford.

Pondo Pedal 2011

Every year a group of 18-24 riders ride from Port Edward to Port St Johns along the beach over 3 days. This year I was fortunate enough to go with on this adventure for my third time with my brother and dad also riding and my mom and sister as part of the back up crew.

Day 1

First river crossing

The first day of Pondo is always the longest day it covers 72km and takes about 10 hour to complete. With such a large group this year of 24 riders the fitness levels differed tremendously, and we all had to ride at the same speed as the slowest person. Like all Pondo’s day 1 start by riding through the Wild Coast Casino golf course and the straight down to the beach where our first river crossing awaits. (TIP1 – I wouldn’t recommend swimming in tights at 7 in the morning during winter with 10 hours still to go on the bike.) After the first river everything starts to repeat itself for most of the first day. The first 6 hours consisted of riding on the beach crossing 2 more rivers and walking over soft beach sections.

Long walk up the Rocky Hill

The 3rd river on the day seemed to cause the most confusion, momentarily splitting the bunch up in to 4 groups. The majority of the bunch crosses the river about 500m inland from the ocean and did some hiking up a rocky path, knowing we would need to find our way back down to the beach for our breakfast stop. On top we had discovered that a small group had braved the deeper water at the mouth and where already on the beach, group 1. After a couple of mishaps and a mechanical the remaining bunch split into 3 more group with myself being stuck alone with my brother and not knowing where to go.  My brother thought with us being so close to the ocean we could make a B-line for the beach (TIP 2 – never listen to your brother). We ended up taking to a forest and fighting our way through, some how we eventually landed on the beach and slid down a sand dune to find most of the others that had regrouped.

Darryn with Marks bike

With the each for their own nature the group was taking on, I was happy to eat some breakfast while the remaining two groups made their own way either through or some how around the section of forest. Once regrouped we were able to carry on until one of the riders called it a day and luckily knew someone with a helicopter which was able to fetch him from the middle of nowhere (TIP 3 – when doing a group ride always make sure there is at least 1 person weaker than you).  However, it was a two-man helicopter, which meant his bike didn’t fit and all he could take with was his wheels. So after strapping the wheel less bike to Darryn’s back (making him look like Buzz Lighter) with wings and everything (TIP 4 – never offer to help someone carry their bag unless it really is a bag) we were on your way for the last half of the day.

With 1 river remaining the day’s stop never seemed to get closer and the already slow speed seemed to come to a stand still for about 2 hours. We had finally made it to little Goss the last river of the day and an easy 8km to the home stop before we released we had split the group into 2 groups AGAIN and had to wait for 30min for the second group (TIP 5 – Find a team next year who can stick together ) However, we took the chance to do some more eating and talking rubbish like we had done most of the day.

Possible the best part of the day is arriving to the nights stop where our 6 followers had prepare some amazing food and snacks and a bed awaited, for most (TIP 6 – When being added to a group after accommodation already booked don’t expect a bed). After a good dinner with Chicken ala King and Babotie it was off to bed/floor for some much needed rest.

Day 2

Breakfast Day 2

Claiming it like Absalon

Day two had a nice 8 O’clock start, which allowed for a nice big breakfast and a allowed it to get warmer before we hit the road although by now we had lost 2 team members. Day 2 is known for it’s walking however, it started with a fun 1km single track to begin actual ride. But in no time we were carrying over a few big rocks to start the days’ walking. (TIP 7 – Holding the bike above your head like Absalon doesn’t work when walking more than 10m.)

Walking on day 2

The first hour of the second day went relatively smoothly and didn’t have too much walking. Then came a few technical sections, which tested our skills and failed therefore resulting in more walking. The real walking then began as we first had to climb up and the down two rocky mountains to be treated to an amazing rocky single track down hill leading onto the beach. With my brother around it always turns into a competition and we tried to see who could ride the technical sections without putting a foot down. (TIP 8  - When your brother doesn’t see something, it never happened…)

The 32km day 2 finally, was near completed after 6 fun hours and some amazing views of waterfalls and some rock formation in the sea. However the day ended with a massive mountain walk/ride then one of the best down hills of the day down to the awaiting followers and delicious food.

Day 3

Highlight of Day 3

Day three was another 8 O’clock start and the hills literally started from the word go after losing yet another group member.  The first hill of the day was the first 500m straight up from the campsite where I was the only one able to make it all the way up without walking. (TIP 9 – if you fail at first try again) After the first hill was another amazing down hill with one of the most amazing views in the world. Day three had some of the steepest and hardest hills but all of them are 100% worth it, as they once on top there are the most amazing views of the ocean, rivers and mountains.

Jayson taking strain after a long walk up Goats Hill

Day 3 of Pondo is the shortest and the most relaxed as there is no rush however, there is no race I have ever ridden that has a mountain that can make a man more tired and sore than Goats Hill. The view from Goats Hill it amazing it looks almost vertical and if u jump down u will almost land in the ocean. Coming up the last hill of day three was a race between my brother and myself, which I will happy say I won, pay back for him making me walk through the forest walk on day one. Reaching the top of the last hill is the view that you have been waiting for, for three days as you over look the beach heading straight to Port St John and our final stop.

Beautiful views

A few last moments on the bike feel like seconds as we ride to the finish and the Spotted Grunter, arriving to some delicious sandwiches and a nice warm shower feels like home but better. The last night gives everyone time to reflect on the last few days and activities, which made the weekend amazing and can not wait for next year to make some new memories and enjoy new adventures. (TIP 10 – Never leave a man behind)

Dura Cycles – Knight Series #3

With 2 round of the Dura Cycles night series complete I was hoping to have a good race it the third race of this 5 part series being held at Douglas Mitcheal. The first round of the series I was able to pull off a victory and missed the second round due to a nationals in Johannesburg. This meant I was very excited to redeem my past performances and have a solid race in the third event.

After a chaotic start to the evening as my sister had to rush our puppies to the vet as they were suddenly sick, my races started earlier than expected. All the watching of the Tour de France paid off as I performed a 15km time trail in the dusk to get to the race start on time. However, with the solid warm up done and all lights on I was excitedly on the start line. With the sirens going off it was a race to the first single track, which Jono Downham managed to achieve with a more than questionable early start. With Jono carrying what look like flood lights from behind and Darryn Purtell doing the same sitting closely on my wheel, I was able to see the track like it was day time as I flowed Jono lines around the first lap.

With local pride holding the fastest lap time on the line I was able to sprint past Jono to cross the line for the first lap in first with Jono close on my heals. The second lap I realized my light was a lot less bright than I previously thought, as I no long had Jono around me lighting up the track. Knowing the course very well being my third time racing on it this year and many hours racing around it in training I was able to use that track knowledge to continue clocking fast consistent lap times.

Besides racing hard up front I was able to see the spot-lights on Jono behind me around nearly every corner. On my last lap I was able to open up the gap back to second a little more and was able to cruse the last few meters to claim the win with Jono close behind and Darryn working hard as he tried in vain to real in Jono. Altogether it was a great event and really awesome to race at night again. I cant wait for the last two races in the series and hope to see more of you there to enjoy the fun and amazing atmosphere.

Time to get running

This weekend allowed me to compete in my first of the Time Freight Multisport Series held at Albert Falls. I opted to do the Multi-x Long course, which consisted of a 5km run, 20km cycle and another 2,5km run. Having not done much running in the last few months, was wondering how my legs would feel doing a total of 7,5km of running.

Morning of the race was yet another early one, waking up at 4:15 to make sure we could leave by 5:00. With my mom joining me and competing in the multi-x short course for the first time, there was some excitement in the air and I for once was unable to sleep in the car. Upon arrival we knew it would be cold but the cars warming alarm saying it was just 2 degrees was unexpected.

After entering and doing the 32GI survey on their touch screens we started organizing our bikes and running shoes to put them in the designated area.  Before I knew it I would be at the start line standing with Murry Starr, listening to race directions.

We were off on our first 5km run (and just like mountain biking) the field quickly spread out and I had decided to run my own pace which surprisingly left me in 10th going through the half way point in the run. The early fast pace did prove to hurt the legs and I slipped back in the second half of the run to 11th.

 

Moving onto my favourite event next the,mountain bike, I knew I would be able to make up a few places. That is exactly what happened as I was able to pass 3 people in just the first 10km. The second 10km I caught up to, 2 more people, and we were able to work together to maintain a high pace all the way back to the transition zone. Having done a lot for work on the bike to make up time my legs were unwilling to start the run at a fast pace. With my two riding partners running away from me I just tried to hang on to my 7th overall.

After about 1km into the last run my legs started to feel better and I was able to increase my pace, however it didn’t last long as my left leg started to crap approaching to finish. I kept watching my back to make sure nobody was to come up behind me and pass me and I was luckily able to retain my 7th overall and 1st in the under 19 age group. I really enjoyed this event and can not wit for the next event at Shongweni Dam on the 21th August looking forward to seeing you all there.

For more information into the Time Freight Series check out the Max Cluer Events page at: http://www.maxcluer.com/home/time-freight-multisport-series

Or join the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MultisportSeries 

Event Pamphlet

Weekend of Racing at Home

Sardine Classic

After the previous weeks 3rd round, of the SA cup series up in Pietermaritzberg being badly supported, I was amazed to see the people down in the South Coast for the weekends events; KZN short course series #4 and Sardine Classic. For what was supposed to be an awesome weekend of racing the weather would play a large part. Throughout the week leading up to the race the weather was miserable, and the rain bucketed down until it eventually stopped Friday night.

The weekend began with a delayed start at the KZN short course #4, with the racing eventually started at 9am. Arriving early I was able to ride the track to warm up on the rather cold morning. Even though is was my home track at Duggies I had never ridden the course in the wet conditions that we ended up racing in. The first 4km of the track seemed to run relatively smoothly however towards the end on the course was more of a swamp, with streams of water at times covering the entire road for up to 20m.

The home ground advantage with the aid of a good start help me to complete the first lap in second behind Team Jeep South Africa team mate Travis Walker with James Reid on my tail. Through the second lap James found his way passed me and worked his way towards Travis as the race started to unfold. The third lap would prove to be crucial, as I took a moment to breathe I lost concentration for a second going through a patch of water and my knee smashed into my handlebars.

Being very cautious and nursing my knee Luke Roberts and Kyle Dorkin were quickly right up behind me and found the way passed in an opening in the single track. The racing from there until the end seemed to be rather quiet and lonely with the exception on Luke pulling out. I finished 5th in my batch and 2nd in the Juniors which I was very happy with in the muddy conditions.

The following day provided some more great racing through again muddy conditions. Sunday was the Sardine Classic and with an injured Justin Porteous commentating everybody would have a few laughs before the racing began. To kick off the day was the 40km mountain bike race, which would have some big names taking to the rough course, which was made tougher with the mud.

The race would consist of 2 laps the first 14km and the second another 26km allowing spectators to watch the exciting race. However, this meant more climbing for the racers and with tired legs from the previous day I struggled early on to stay with my main rivals on the hills. This continued to be the case as struggled to climb up the first 8km of hills, which we would end up doing again on the second lap. I was able to pair up with Darryn Purtell on several occasions which helped me get through some of the toughest and muddiest parts on the course on top on the main climb.

However, with the legs taking strain Darryn a long with a few others managed to pull away from me leaving me to ride to the finish alone to claim 11th on the day with my brother finishing a close 12th. Despite narrowly missing the top 10 I was able to finish 3rd Junior yet again behind Kyle Dorkin who came 2nd and Luke Roberts who won the Juniors and finished 4th over all.

World Cup in Pietermaritzburg

Photographer - Josh Reid

With a 2 hour drive to Pietermaritzburg and back on Thursday my weekend had began. This followed with a final practice of the course on Friday where Charles Stander drove up to Cascades. I was hoping to master the main rock garden before the world cup however this was not to be, as I fell twice in practice on Friday and bent my hanger. This along with 2 more falls in the same place a week before had convinced me to walk the final section on the rock garden on race day.

Saturday before the race was very relaxing I had decided to skip four hours of driving to Cascades and back to watch the elites and under 23 races, in order to relax and save my energy for my race on Sunday. This meant waking up at 5 o’clock on race day to do the two hour drive to Cascades luckily I was able to sleep almost the whole way to Cascades in the car.

I arrived to a surprisingly quiet Cascades, with people only coming later in the day to watch the downhill riders. However, the nervous started as I arrived and starting seeing where I would be racing for the next hour and a half. After sorting out water bottles and doing some last minute checks it was time to start warming up. With a nice tar hill close to Cascades I was able to do some sprints and get the legs nice and warm before heading down to the start line.

With people riding around by the start line you could feel everybody shaking with nerves. With the 13 man field made up of 11 South Africans it helped calm the nervous as I knew who I would be racing. However, never seeing the other two riders from Switzerland and France would add some excitement to the race.

The race started along the flat start straight but this did not help me as I still had a terrible start and was stone last after just 100 meters. I quickly composed myself and started to catch the pack of riders again. I entered the first, up hill, single track 2nd last and after the long straight towards the 2nd single track on the course I was able no move my way up to 9th. I was only able to catch one more rider on the last hill just before the second tech/feed zone. With the two of us together we had a battle for 8th for most on the first lap however, I was able to pull a small gap just before the end of the lap.

The gap seemed to stay the same then slowly started to open up for the next two laps. With marshals blowing whistles’ every time a rider went past them I was able to hear the gap between myself and closes riders opening up as the whistles’ started becoming softer. I had found myself sandwiched between two groups of two riders for most on the race where I was riding solo and was able to ride my own race, pacing myself up the hills.

The final lap I knew if I could maintain my pace I would finish an 8th as the gaps had opened up some more. With the junior women on course with us I would slowly make my way through their field as the final lap coming to its end. I would eventually see the finish line and with a few more peddle strokes I finished in 8th. I was very happy with my result as I had qualified in 12th leading up to the race.

Camping with my Boet

Karkloof 2011 was always going to be an interesting one, but camping just adds more fun to the whole ordeal. My brother and myself left home on Friday to drive up to my sister in Westville and stay over on Friday night. After a little bit of shopping for a skotel braai and gas we were all set to make the trip to Karkloof early Saturday morning with the Juniors XC race being the first on the day starting at 7a.m.

We arrived early Saturday morning and even had time for setting up most of our camp site before I had to head out for some sprints to warm up on a very chilly morning. Without having the opportunity of riding the track before hand I was forced to ask around and find out from everybody else how the track was running. I happened to find out from others that the track was super slippery but still fun.

With a very small but elite bunch of riders, this was to be a fast and tight race. Entering the first lap we hit the single track for the first, of what was supposed to be 5 laps. However this was later changed to only 4 laps for our race. I entered the first single track in 4th but, with the sun still low between the trees making visibility difficult and with the slippery conditions gaps opened between all the riders. This combined with not having ridden the course before made me very cautious for my first 2 laps with the technical single track.

After slipping back to 5th later on in the 1st lap I tried to enjoy the course and learn the technical sections before the last 2 laps. With gaps forming right in the beginning it opened up the whole race and racing was a less tight than expected. This meant the last 2 I could almost relax. I continued to race hard and enjoy all the down hills however nobody would be seen until the finish line. I held on to my 5th on what was a super fun course would love to race it when its dry.

Camping seems to be just as interesting as the racing. Having little camping experience and not having thought the whole thing through we were left without most necessities such as tables, lights and water but we made the most of what we had to enjoy our stay. With the brother being the more practical to say the least it easy for me to let him do all the work in and around the camping site. But probably the best part is having every meal made for you thanks boet! =]

Our idea of camping resulted in the two of us sleeping in the car with our bags and food in the tent. Sunday morning was the start of the Karkloof classic with an 8a.m. start to the 60km marathon it was yet another early morning. The race started with 50 people in the A batch with included all the favorites’ in this strong field and myself. After a good paced start a big bunch of riders of about 10 were able to get a lead after one of the first single tracks.

I found myself in the second bunch on the road feeling quite a strong along with Carl Calverly, Andrew Mclean, Benmelt Swanapoel, and Matt Gouch. We were cruising quite nicely and were soon the front bunch on the road as all the leaders unfortunately took a wrong turn at about 7km. However, luck was also not on my side as I had a technical problem with my cassette, which lead to myself pulling out at the 13.3km mark.

I was able to get a lift back to the start where I had about 2 hours to relax and shower before the elite man in the 60km marathon would come in. Which I used to pack up our camp site.

Had an awesome weekend up at Karkloof which is an awesome event and really well organized with amazing riding for people of all skill levels with there being a 60km, 40km, 20km and a 10km race. Sad to end the weekend with a technical however, it is back on the bike for some last minute training for the first leg of the SA XCO series on Saturday at Cascades.

Mudman take 2 – Cordwalles

After my first Mudman and multi-sport event a few weeks ago, which I really enjoyed I was eager to take on the challenge once again. However, its been way to busy with juggling school work and training on the bike, to have time to get in the pool for some training. This was perfect as on Wednesday leading up to the race I was contacted by Team Jeep Multi-sport athlete Ryan Redman as he had suffered with a knee injury and would not be able to run or ride.

He asked my brother (Elmo van der Spuy) and myself to join him in the team event. Ryan was able to swim as it was his best discipline and not damaging to the knee, Elmo also suffering with knee injuries wouldn’t be able to run which meant he would be riding. This worked out perfectly as this would also be his strongest event. I would be left to finish our race in the run it was not my favourite event, however running has always probably been my most natural event of the three.

Left home the day before with Justin Porteous, Darryn Purtell and my brother to stay in Team Jeeps athletes house in PMB. We picked up my sister on the way, with it being 4 guys we needed someone to organise us and act as our mother. A early dinner to miss Earth Hour meant a early nights sleep.
6:30 wake up call and with a short drive we were quickly helping Justin help put up all the Future Life banners and stands which barely fitted in the car. Being in the team event meant we needed to warm up well as each person would need to sprint their disciplines. A quick jog and stretching was different to the sprints in used to on the bike however, it would be the warm up routine for the day.

Ryan did a brilliant swim even with a injured knee as he exited the water in three overall and limped his was to the transition where Elmo nervously was waiting. I was now left in the transition as I waited for him to return. After his first lap I got an update and found my brother was in second overall. He road very well to maintain a high pace to hold Tyron Whites well to the transition. Not needing to change I was able to exit the transition area before everybody else.

The 5km run turned into a sprint as I was in first overall and didn’t want to lose that. I started a bit to fast and soon found out as I had lost my breath in like 2 minutes and struggled from there. I had some motivation to keep going as I could see Tyron behind me on every straight and up the hills would try put down a hard pace. The effects of not training for a running race came through towards the end however, was very happy with my performance. The team (Team Jeep) won overall which a team has not done for quite a while in a Mudman.

Was so fun to be able to race with my brother in a team event for the second time ever. Thanks to Ryan Redman for the awesome opportunity was definitely a great race and loads of fun. Well done to Justin Porteous for a good second and Darryn Purtell for a brilliant finish in the top ten in his first attempt in a multi-sport event.

The Team Trophy

30 Minutes to Go – Marathon Champs

Cycling South Africa really knows how to kick-start a year with back-to-back SA championships in two weeks. First with SA XOC Champs followed 7 days later by SA Marathon Champs. This meant a good lead up to SA Marathon Champs as training would be already done two weeks in advance so it was time to maintain a good level of fitness between events.

I was able to drive up and stay in my sister’s flat the day before the big race with good mates; Darryn Purtell, Nick Porteous and of course my brother and sister. Lets just say even though it was a early night it was not boring to any extent and was filled with some true laughs and a few nervous ones (nerves were starting for then race to reseed the following day). This continued on the morning of race day. Nick doing work like always, was responsible for bringing three enormous bean-bags for sponsors Bryton’s stand at the starts/finish. A lack of space ended up with only 2 making it to the race and the final 1 somewhere along the highway in Westville. Sorry to anybody driving behind us our stretchy broke so technically it was not our fault.

The drama was not yet finished and with 30 minutes to go I was on my way down to the start-line to give some support to Darryn Purtell, Craig Paul (Team Jeep South Africa team mate), Justin Porteous and Jono Downham. However, never got there as on my way down the tar road which I was warming up along my small chain ring (27 thooth) seemed to simply fall off much to my shock and horror.

Who would of thought that the giant multi-tools handed out at race entry would come to use as I was able to remove my crank and my small chain ring as I did not have screws to re-attach it. With a short little warm up to check if the gears were still working I found myself on the start-line with only my big (40 tooth) chain ring and a few steep hills needing to be climbed.

With a good road section to start the race I was well positioned as we hit the dirt for the first time. I quickly found out the differences between XCO and Marathons as the group stayed together for a while before Brendon Davids put down the hammer up the first steep hill. Every body scrambled for wheels as the group finally split as 5 riders got up the road and I found myself with two other riders chasing for the next hour and was able to move our way up to the 4th rider on the road. The group of three of us however, could not be broken as up every hill there would be a sprint and nobody would give up the fight.

With 2km to go there would be no more opportunities to get up the road and ride solo to the finish, and a sprint finish was on the cards. I was able to come down the last single track behind 1 of the other riders’ right where I wanted to be. He kept the pressure on and coming closer to the line I realized I would need to attack up the inside as two slower rides happened to get in the way. With a last gasp effort I took my opportunity to try to pass on the short straight to the finish. Coming round on the inside, I ran out of road to the finish line and felt as if we finished “perfectly” in-line with each other and would have to wait for the results to see who would take 4th. The results where eventually displayed and found myself in 5th and losing what was a very close sprint.

With only 1 chain ring and a few hard hills I couldn’t complain and was chuffed to just be able to race at such a high level. Could not have done it with out being fueled by 32GI, it really got me up the hills with all the energy needed.

Big thanks to Max Cluer, Ryan Redman (who didn’t race but was the in support of his father) and the rest on the Team Jeep SA for all the support always good to feel welcomed to a race. However, lets not for get the locals all over the course, awesome to see you all out there in support makes a race so much better.

SA XCO Champs – Cape Town

Mark Austin Photography - SA XCO Champs

The weekend of SA XCO champs is normally very well organized in advance so I can relax with the build up to the race. Well nobody can be organized when your flight is delayed by 9 hours, but been over the weekend of the Argus this only get worse when the airports lose your bikes and make you walk everywhere to try find them. Almost two hour of searching for bikes we finally got them but was too late to head down to the race course as it was already getting dark.

Good thing the track was not technical at all because with the loss of a day in airports we only had one day to test the track out. While riding the track for the first time, was really not feeling good and didn’t know how the legs would feel the following day. A few more laps and was a bit more confident to race a round this course with the steep hills around every corner for the first 3km of the 5.7km track.

After the practice laps and a chat with the boys around the lack of single track and was time for the carbo-loading and relaxing to finally begin, while we watched the Sharks win there forth straight game in the Super 15. Unlike most SA races I was feeling really relaxed knowing the pressure wouldn’t be on as I wasn’t a favorite as I was still trying to make up for the month holiday in January.

An early nights sleep and a late wake up call as I was only racing after 12 meant I was well rested by the time us and the bikes were in the car heading to the course at 11. Got to say after a tough African Champs I was felling very intimidated as I road along the road during the warm up and watched others fly past during some sprints.

With a second row seed I knew the start would be important to a good race and this proved as standing behind Luke Roberts as he missed his pedal at the start cause a few guys further back to go down in the start straight. The first hill also had its technicalities as people were littered everywhere and made passing and riding the smoother lines impossible forcing myself to go up on the harder side of the hill in order to pass a few riders. This however worked as by the top I was in a good position to have a good race.

By end of he first lap I found myself chasing down a few more riders and had two riders on my wheel trying to hold on. This continued as we made our way up the last climb up to the second tech zone on lap 3 where Charles Stander miss counted and said I was in 5th when I would later find out it was 7th. I pushed on the 4th lap to hold on to my “5th” and eventually dropped the two riders on my back wheel up to the second tech zone on the second last lap. The way back to the start/finish I tried to maintain a good speed to hold this gap while saving the legs for the last lap. This paid off as the last lap I was able to extend the gap as I went around the track for the last time. This secured a good race in which I was able to pull of a 7th while being a little under trained. Congrates to Luke Roberts for the brilliant race to become SA XCO champion and team mate Brendon Davids who pulled off a good 3rd for Team Jeep SA.