African Continental Champs

Hayley and myself waiting for the race to start

Exactly 6 days after arriving at King Shaka from Atlanta City I found myself boarding yet another plane this one heading to Cape Town. Was quite an experience going to my first African Continental Championship all alone, and the hardest part was not knowing how the legs would react after my long five week holiday to America. During my time in America training was sporadic as some places such as Las Vegas it was actually against the law to train in the gym if you were younger than 18 years old, I was luckier in other places such as Orlando where the resort had stationary bike which I could make use of daily.

Upon arrive to Cape Town on Thursday evening I was greeted by a familiar face as Charles Stander picked me up from the airport. Arriving two days before the big race left me with one day I which I can learn the technical 4.2km course. However, after a delicious breakfast with Charles, Nicky and Darryn I found myself standing in the kitchen of the smallest flat I have ever seen. It consisted of two rooms and a bathroom. The first was my and Darryns bedroom, the kitchen and lounge conveniently my bed was in the kitchen and my pillow would be against the side of the fridge for the next two days. The other room was the other bedroom, dinning area and office. However you could stand at the door and see the whole house. To my surprise the cupboard was the biggest part of the house and fitted my whole built up bike.

Arriving at the course on Friday morning I finally bumped into my Team Jeep team mates Brendon Davids and Ryan Ellis who had both been in Cape Town for about week. Soon it was the traditional official practice which meant registration time and finally to hit the track for the first time.

Brendon Davids and Ryan Ellis were both by now well in tune with the forever changing course as every lap would present new challenges, as the lack of rain had caused loads of soft sand and loss rocks which seem to move every lap. This helped them during Saturday (race day) as the both did brilliantly even though Brendon would have a close race he came through on the last lap after attacking on the flatter road section and maintaining and slowing building his lead to achieve a well earned first in the Juniors. Ryan also maintain a more than solid pace and drove on throughout the race to achieve a 9thin a very strong U/23 class. Team Jeep South African however, dominated the morning with the lady’s Mikaela Johnson and Hannlie Booyens winning their to races it the early morning.

With the lady’s winning, and riding with team mate Brendon Davids a good race for Team Jeep i was on the cards. The 10:30 start was good, as we finally got to sleep in on race day. With I solid starting position on the front row, does not always guarantee a good start! I found myself slipping very fast down the field with a bad start. Finally I was able to find my speed just before the first single track but was a little too late as chaos broke out I don’t think there was even a moment where you were not being hit by a bike or a falling person.

Photographer Zoon Cronje - Technical problems

After making it out the first single track alive it was time to start making my way back up the field and it worked as passed 2 or 3 people before the top of the main technical hill. The rocky down hill proved to by my undoing as one of the only non-South-African in the field fell in front of me and caused me follow him on the way down. The fall seemed to do no problems at the time but that was not the case as it happened to cause my cleat to loosen and on the 2nd lap I found myself battling just to stay clipped in. Just before the technical hill I felt my cleat not clipping in at all and soon I would find out the cleat had some how pulled out my shoe. The race seemed to go down hill from there, excuse the pun. After losing a few minutes while Nicky Smith showed his skills fixing my cleats I was unable to carry on as the end of the 3rd lap was also sadly the end of my race.

Not the way I expected the season opener to unfold after a whole season last year with hardly any technical issues. A thanks must go to Nicky Smith for feeding me and technical suuport even though he had his own daughter racing at the same time, and Darryn Purtell who stood in the 2nd feed zone half way up the mountain with all the spares and bottles to feed me in the hot sun with his race starting later in the day. Charles Stander for all the support on the weekend and driving half an hour to fetch me from the airport.

Thanx to those who helped through out the ride


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