The 1st round of the UCI World Cup Mountain bike series was held in Pietermaritzburg this last weekend, and it was the biggest race I have done so far in my life.
Just over 120 elite riders, including some of the world’s best, lined up at 2.30pm on Saturday afternoon for two hours of battle!
The course was just over 6km in length, including over 200m of ascent per lap and some highly technical rock gardens and drop offs.
The Start – Fast and Furious
The pace was hot off the line but soon slowed to a walk as the first single track congested up. It was then full gas as the course opened up again. I had practised the big rock garden on the course the previous day six times and was feeling confident about it; as I approached it, I lined up correctly, hit the right rocks but then came unstuck. A fairly big crash at the exit of the rock garden… entertaining the many spectators watching.
My confidence on the technical sections was shot. Coming down the last rock garden I made another stupid mistake and came down again. I picked myself up and got going again although rather slowly. I continued to ride the technical sections at a somewhat slower pace through the rest of my race unfortunately slipping further back in the field.
I was pulled off the course because of the 80% rule and finished down in 103rd position. Although I was very disappointed with my race and didn’t achieve what I wanted to, it was a great experience to be able to line up with some of the world’s top riders but I still need to improve a lot to be able to be more competitive in years to come.
Sean and I after the race.
A big thank you to all who supported me!
Friends who cheered and shouted and rung those cow bells! My family who came out in full force with vuvuzelas and my sponsors; the guys from Cube: Jacques, Paul and Darryl who supported me in the tech zone and Sean and Celeste who came out to watch.
Thank you all
My 2011 race machine is none other than the beautiful Cube Elite HPC SL hard tail mountain bike.
Isikhila Distributors are the South African Importers of Cube and a huge thank you must go to Paul, Darryl and Jacques. Should you wish to own this or any other Cube, click on the Cube logo on the right hand side of the screen or alternatively contact me and I can help you out.
The oversize BB enables the frame to be stiff and hence a super responsive ride, something I enjoy very much. The flex stay system is also interesting and works in a similar fashion to a full suspension bike, lending a bit of forgiveness to the rider on the rough stuff. I’ve found this works particularly well on corrugated dirt roads in terms of the riding I have done on it so far. The weight of the bike is kept down by the full carbon frame along with great wheels and components.
The Fox Terralogic fork is something I have been longing to ride again and I have to say it doesn’t disappoint. Its my first time ever riding XTR and the shifting is crisp to my surprise and braking superb! Another highlight are the EC90 race wheels, super light but at the same time nice and stiff, what else would you want from wheels?
Have a look at a couple of pictures I took of the new race machine.
Double Flex Stay System.
XTR Drive train.
Easton Hubs on carbon Easton rims.
I’ve only had the bike for a week now but am loving it and can confidently say its the best bike I’ve ever had in my arsenal.
The afternoon before the National Cup XCO this weekend was spent hurrying off to Durban to pick up my brand new toy… the beautiful Cube Elite HPC SL hard tail mountain bike.
The bike was amazing to ride but unfortunately the conditions on race day were not so great.
Many of the international participants arrived in South Africa this last week, in preparation for next week which is the first round of the UCI World Cup Mountain Biking Series in Pietermaritzburg which made the National Cup event the perfect dress rehearsal.
Waiting to start.
Sadly the weather didn’t play its part and it rained quite a bit in the days leading up to the event and a lot on the day of the race, which turned the course into a mud bath and some last minute alterations had to be made by the organisers.
About 50 riders had entered the event but only about 30 or so started, myself being 1 of 5 South Africans to do so.
The start was fast, as expected but I wasn’t quite ready for what the course threw at us. It seemed as though I ran more than I rode and after 4 crashes in one lap I decided to call it quits for the day.
This is after about 600m, the mud was that bad.
I must say a big thank you to Paul, Darryl and Jacques from Cube for getting the bike to me on time and hopefully next week things will go a bit better in the World cup. Tune in later in the week for a few more pictures and a review on my new bike. She’s a real beauty ☺
If you are in or around Pietermaritzburg this weekend come and watch the world’s best on mountain bikes. For more race and ticket information click here
After having the past 3 weekends off racing, it’s time to get going again. Although it was good to have a bit of a break the training has been tough but I’m feeling ready to go now.
This past Saturday we celebrated the marriage of good friends Erik and Ariane Kleinhans, an awesome venue, great food and good company topping off a superb day.
I have settled into a good routine with my new coach Ian Rodger, and have been using a Power Tap for the first time and really enjoying it. It’s a tough tool to train with as it leaves no room to hide but it’s good to see the real result of your training session. For those who don’t know what a power meter is, in a nutshell, it’s a device that measures your wattage output when riding and is very useful when doing intervals or tempo rides to hit the right training zones. The watts don’t lie!
On the racing side I’m off to Durban for three back to back weekends of tough racing.
First up is the National Cup XCO at Cascades this coming Saturday which will most likely be a mini world cup in itself with most of the international guys having already arrived.
Next week, on the same course, I will be racing my first ever World Cup XCO event, and with no doubt, with most likely more than 100 elite riders lining up, it’ll be a tough one! My world ranking is relatively low, just in the top 500 after the SA XCO championships result which means I will be starting near the back of the grid. If you’re in the Pietermaritzburg area next weekend be sure to come check it out, it really is an awesome event!
When the event was last held in Pietermaritzburg in 2009 just over 20 000 spectators came to watch over the race weekend, so bring your vuvuzelas, cow bells and please shout for me☺. You can get tickets here
Image Credit Rob Jones
To end the trip off will be a road race in the Tour Durban. A fairly big race in the national road calendar and one I havent done before.
I will be receiving my new race and social kit this week and will be sure to post a couple of shots of it up later in the week.