Resolution Health Zurreal – Ride the Rhino – Stage 1 and 2

Overcast, drizzly and generally quite chilly conditions greeted us for the start of the 3 day Resolution Health Zurreal Ride the Rhino. Our starting point was the Langebaan Country Estate. The first stage would see us traverse the coast line before heading inland towards Darling to our overnight stop. Day 2 presented a 90km loop starting and finishing in Darling with the final day starting in Darling and finishing off at Hillcrest in Durbanville.

 

On the racing front a relatively flat first 50km and a strong headwind, meant a large group of 30 riders stayed together. After turning inland towards the hills, the EAI team heated affairs at the front; the racing was unfortunately short lived. Some confusion with route markers had arisen, and ultimately the day would be neutralised later on. On the plus side the weather had cleared up into a sunny west coast day, with the many daisies in bloom at this time covering the countryside. I was having visions of wet, muddy camping… Not ideal having not brought my gumboots with!

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The peloton leaves the picturesque Langebaan.

Image credit: Chris Hitchcock

 

After some charming local hospitality at the Darling Country Club and the promise of better route marking we set off on the second stage of the Ride the Rhino. A tougher day was on the cards and the early highlight the, Renosterveld Singletrack. The racing split the field up here and I soon found myself on my own, dangling a tantalizingly close 30 seconds off the EAI pair of Rabie and Combrinck. 2 against 1 in the wind isn’t fun, this 30 seconds soon turned into a few minutes.

 

Respite from the wind was brought on by the Dassenberg Donder… Yes the name says it all, it was a b*tch of a climb! The lower slopes being exceptionally rough through the veld and fynbos until we hit the jeep track to take us to the tower on top. My first sighting of the cement strips brought a sense of relief, to enjoy something smoother you know, soon replaced by ah sh!t, this is going to get steep! And it did get steep, 28% steep!

 

A quick dash off the side of the mountain and we arrived at the final water point at Cloof Wine Estate, also the hosts of the Rocking the Daisy’s music festival. The EAI boys had taken a wrong turn and I was now upfront on my own. The South Easter, who I had cursed earlier, was now my friend as the tail wind pushed me back to the finish in Darling. EAI found their way again, and we rode the last 20km into the finish together.  They had won the team category and me the solo category.

 

There won’t be a dash to the finish line tomorrow, an 88km stage with some nasty looking spikes towards the end of the route profile suggests otherwise!

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Good morning Darling!

Image credit: Chris Hitchcock

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Steve being rad in his pink Speedo and Rhino Horn. I believe he has ridden both full stages like this. Maybe he needs some ASS MAGIC?

Image Credit: Chris Hitchcock



MTN Hilton Ultra Marathon

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Start grid.

Image credit: Linda Wolhuter

After a weekend off after the SA champs it was back on the program over the past weekend with the next round of the MTN Hilton National Marathon series taking place literally right on my doorstep.

 

It’s crazy to think that as a junior training in and around Pietermaritzburg and fantasizing about taking part in World Cups and travelling the globe was always a dream, and now it has become somewhat of a reality. Whilst I have been privileged to train and race in both Europe and America I would never have thought that I would race a World Championships that would literally come right through my parents farm, only metres away from the wattle forest where my school riding buddies and I crafted single track.

 

The Hilton marathon would see us ride on sections of the World Champs course allowing us to scout the terrain once again before the final showdown this coming weekend. Whilst we would not be racing through our farm this time we would be racing past our front gate twice.

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Early morning traffic.

Image credit: Zoon Cronje

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Racing through ASS MAGIC country again.

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Enjoying some of Hilton’s finest trails.

Image Credits: Zoon Cronje

I also had my team mate Hanco join down from Joburg and it would be great to race together once again. The front group of 12 riders remained intact for the first 20 or so kilometres before it split going up the first major climb to Otto’s Bluff. Hanco was in the front split whilst I was in the second. After a tough battle over relentless terrain for 5 hours Hanco finished the day in a solid 10th position and myself in 13th. A slightly better result than SA champs for me, although I felt like it was a one speed day, but some positives to draw and improvements made. There are still area’s to improve on for future reference.

 

I was fortunate to have my super back up team once again with my sister joining my Mom, Alison and Rob whilst my Dad tackled the 45km race. This in preparation for another event coming up in the near future in which we will be riding together, more on this soon!

 

With the World Championships only a few days away this is an easier week with just a few short sharp efforts. It will be important to be fresh for another brutal race on a course which I have become somewhat more familiar with. It will also mark the end of my first half of my racing season before I take a break to refresh for a busy second half.

 

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Hanco smashing it.

Image Credit: Zoon CronjeP1050378

The tech zone crew keeping up to date via Tweeta!

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All important stretch before the bottle handover.

Image credits: Rob Gee

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Refuled for the final 27km stretch!

Image credits: Rob Gee

Pop’s logging in a couple of miles.

Image credit: Jess Wolhuter