I had more reason to be excited for this last weekend’s racing and that came in the form of a shiny new bike. My new baby: the Black Spade Hard Tail 29er. It was to be my first time on the big wheels and wow was I impressed! I’ll be blogging on this awesome bike soon I promise!
Let’s take things back a notch. I was invited to stay the weekend with the Smit Family in the Knysna Quays. We stayed in an awesome house which was centrally located and I must extend a big thank you to them for their wonderful hospitality. It is great being able to walk to most of the places we needed to be and rolling two minutes down the road to the start line. I wasn’t the only one racing with Shaughn taking part in both the mountain bike marathon and road race and Ash doing the shorter mountain bike race on Saturday. Both did well in their respective races and I suspect they may ramp up their training a bit for the Stellenbosch marathon later on this month.
I wasn’t flying the Asrin flag solo this weekend and Nizaam would be competing in both the mountain bike marathon and the road race. Unfortunately he had quite a hard crash in the mountain bike race but made up for it with a solid result in the road race the following day.
Nizaam lining up for his mountain bike start.
On the grid on Saturday morning a class field had lined up to take on some 80km in the Knysna forests. Fortunately the forecasted rain had held off and I wouldn’t have to subject the new weapon in my arsenal to too much treacherous mud! Nedbank 360 Life put a full team on the line as did RECM with their roadie cousin Lill (Bonitas). Also there was the Blend Properties team, Groustra (RSA Web/Rocky Mountain), Munnik (Go Pro/GT) and Craig Boys (Daiken).
The start is a tough one with the ascent up Simola coming in the opening kilometres followed by a short downhill and another stiff climb which levels out near the top but carries on for what feels like ages. It was at the top of this climb I found myself in a group consisting Ollie Munnik, Craig Boyes, John Wakefield and two other chaps whose names I didn’t quite catch.
The group worked well together through the flatter sections of the course as we chased the group a few minutes up the road consisting of Evans, Groustra, Bressler Knipe and Morrison. Ultimately we didn’t catch them but did manage to finish just a few minutes shy of them
As the race wore on we shed two riders and approached the fast downhill into town with a group of just four now. It was to come down to a sprint for the remaining top 10 positions. I was really excited as I had some new tricks I wanted to employ after watching Griepel and the boys duelling it out at the Tour last week(No, this does not include lying on the tarmac!). It was unfortunately a bit dangerous as we had to contest this with the shorter route riders on the same track with us having to weave in and around them and try not freak them out at the same time. This you can see in the video clip I’ve uploaded below and I think I managed to just edge out Craig in the dash for the line.
Mountain Bike Marathon Sprint.
(enjoy the commentry: “speeding, speeding, speeding)
“You see it works like this…”
After a massage, eating over half of the food in Knysna (No Oysters mind you) and a good night’s sleep I was on my skinny wheels ready to race early the next morning.
Unfortunately the racing became a bit negative with a full Bonitas team on the line on the day. I’m not going to go into the dynamics of how this affects the race but I will say I was quite pleased with how I was climbing and found myself in the main chase group after the steep ascent up Hoekwil. We numbered about 15 riders and I found my company to be mainly mountain bikers who had also ripped it up the previous day which was pretty cool.
At the end of the day Bonitas managed to fill most of the positions in the top 10 and I rolled over the line in 12th. I think the race could have been more interesting if there was another team or two to mix it up which in turn would give the individual guys like myself more of a chance to be more competitive.
Hunting down Renay G in our ‘fun’ sprint at the end of the road race.
(I got him on the line 😉 )
All in all I had a great weekend on and off the bike and come Sunday evening it was time to treat myself with an awesome pizza and a beer which went down particularly well! There were also perhaps a few awesome farm store pies consumed on the trip home but you can’t count those calories all day long!