SA National XCO Cup #1 – Durbanville

The first round of the 2012 SA National XCO Cup series was held at the Slammer Track in Durbanville. A fairly short but very tough and technical track awaited us. There was one particularly long climb but for me the cumulated hit of all the short steep climbs took their toll. Technically speaking I really enjoyed the track with a good mix of rocks, berms, single track and drop offs to fully test a riders abilities.

Racing got underway at 12 mid-day on Saturday with the elites and U23’s starting together. There was a bit of debate amongst the riders and the commissure on the start line discussing matters regarding the race which in my opinion looked highly unprofessional; especially in front of what would be considered to be a fairly large crowd for a South African race. In the end the commissure put her foot down and made the decision which I thought was for the best.

I had a decent start but then struggled through the two laps following this. I was having trouble following a wheel up the climbs but making up a place or two on the descents.

Pushing through the first rock section followed by Renay G.

Image Credit: Ehlers Smit

Through laps 3 and 4, I managed to find more of a rhythm and got going. It was difficult to establish where I was lying in the elite field with u23, juniors and youths all on the course at the same time.

The cumulated hit of the power climbs started to take their toll on me towards the end and it became a race of attrition to hold on to the end. I managed to catch and pass Stuart Marais (who is making a return to mountain bike racing) in the last lap to finish 9th in the elite race albeit 1 lap down. Mr Stander showed once again why he is one of the best in the world and took a convincing win followed by Phillip Buys and Marc Bassinghtwaite.

Down the drop.

Image Credit: Damian Patterson Photography

On paper my race may not sound too bad but I feel there is still a lot I can and need to improve on especially over the next few weeks with the upcoming Momentum UCI XCO international races in KZN.

I must say a big thank you to all my friends for their incredible support on the day. Especially to my sister and Sean for their help in the feed zone and to Damian for coming out to snap a few photo’s.

Final Results Elite Men

  1. Burry Stander
  2. Phillip Buys
  3. Marc Bassinthwaite
  4. Matthys Beukes
  5. Renay Groustra
  6. Louis Bressler Knipe
  7. Oliver Munnik
  8. Andrew Warr
  9. Chris Wolhuter
  10. Stuart Marais

This pretty much sums up how I felt through the race.

Image Credit: Damian Patterson Photography

Image Credit: mirra photography

Double Race Weekend

As it was in 2011 the Francehoek Lions/Porcupine Ridge mountain bike classic was my first mountain bike of 2012. With the Herald mountain bike race almost being flooded out I was grateful that we had sunny skies on the day. A competitive field lined up including riders from Future Life, Contego/Giant, Nedbank 360 Life, Smith and Associate/ O-bike Maties to name but a few.

A rather rapid pace off the start line resembled something out of a XCO race! Not far down the road I was caught behind a crash and was unable to ride back to the front group of 6 riders following this. To be quite honest I struggled up the first loose and rocky climb and just couldn’t find a rhythm on the day. I felt something like a truck stuck in reverse with everyone zooming past in their Ferrari’s!

I managed to pull myself together a bit on the other side of the mountain and caught 1 or 2 riders along the way. I found a bit more of a rhythm up the last climb and then hung it out a bit on the technical rocky downhill to the finish and have a bit of fun. I lost a bit of air in my rear wheel after bumping it a bit hard on a rock but after bombing it the Sludge did what it does best and I was on my way again to finish just inside the top 10.

Sunny skies in Francehoek.

The following morning was another early wake up and I was now back on the tar for the Roller Coaster Aca Joe Pro Classic Series League race. As the name suggests we had a couple of climbs to contend with including Ou Kaapse Weg from both sides.

The first ascent of Ou Kaapse Weg saw a break of 6 riders move clear including current SA road champion Darren Lill(Bonitas), Stefen Infledt, David Garrett, Lance Muller. I was hanging onto the tail end of the front group with my legs feeling the effects of the mountain bike race the day before and a heavy training week.

Fortunately as the kilometres ticked over my legs got warm and ‘rode into the race’. I handled the climbs on Black Hill, Smitswinkel and Slangkop much better and felt ready for the last ascent of Ou Kaapse Weg. The front 6 had maintained their advantage hovering just over a minute in front of our group and this is how it stayed until the climb. My luck on the day came to an end about a kilometre into the climb I as ‘switched’ by a development rider and paid the tar a quick visit. I banged up my knee a bit and added a few fresh roasties to my new healed ones.

On the whole a not very successful weekend of racing but onwards and upwards, and I’m hoping for better things to come.