Always good to visit our fellow mountain bikers in De Kaap, it was the first National Cup Series race of the year and the guys down here are really fired up and we had a great turnout. On arriving on Thursday we were greeted by blue skies and nice warm breeze, by Friday it had turned into a 33 deg cooker! Oom Bryan has built a fantastic but very tough XC track with nasty steep climbs and tricky downhill singe track. The whole course can be seen from the restaurant balconies! I borrowed his spare bike with the intention of giving it a couple of laps and then possibly entering Saturdays race. Oh dear, my heart was strong but my legs said howzit halfway around one lap! Each climb was as steep as the ‘sting’ at Mankele and the downs so tricky that there was nowhere to rest, add to this the heat and your heart rate just kicks to 98% and stays there! Needless to say I didn’t waste my R250 and elected to stick around as the Big Boss and make sure everything ran smoothly. Tim James was our Lowveld ‘Old Bally’ representative and revelled in the heat and dust.
So it was quite a shocker to wake up race day with it monsooning outside! It freekin rained the whole day, varying from light drizzle to full on deluge! Despite this the racing was awesome, Tim pulled a 2nd Masters with his boy Murray a 9th in Youth Men. Our local Elite Lady, Sam Sanders had a storming race until the last lap where her saddle came loose and decided to point skywards making it impossible, and painful, to sit down, poor Sam was forced to stand the whole lap which let her opponents catch up with her finishing a great 4th in Elite but disappointing considering she was in 2nd behind the Hungarian National Champion for the other 5 laps. Well done anyway Sam and there’s always a next time!
Our other new (sort of) local team, PSG/Valencia with PJ Luus in it, was out for the 1st time resplendent in the their new white and gold kit, and despite the conditions got some valuable experience in the hard world of National XCO! Although the white kit might not be so white anymore!
In the Elite mens race our main XC riders of Phillip Buys and James Reid (without a sponsor after the DG debacle) showed that they were simply too strong for the international riders and neither Florian Vogal or Ralf Naf could keep up, just shows that if our top riders get to start with the top Europeans we can easily kick butt!
The downhill race was at Stellenbosch and 95 nutters pitched up to brave the drizzle and battle it out on a steep course littered with small jumps and one massive road gap, Our own Nadia Botha and hubby Shane were there as well as DH legend Dirk Lourens, Nadia came 1st with Shane 10th Sub Vet and Dirk 8th Sub Vet (he had the fastest split time but bought a farm on the second half of the course!), Andrew Neethling took top honours.
On a somewhat eye opening (and sickening) note, Cape Town is bike mad! On Sunday, in the drizzle we passed literally hundreds of cyclists around Stellenbosh, there are trails everywhere, all marked, all used and all mapped with awesome pamphlets and facilities, we are so far behind in the slowveld, only Mankele can stand with its head up whilst the great trails at Sabie are just under utilised by the locals. Come on guys, we are lucky to have places to ride like Mankele and Sabie, in the Cape they hoike the bike on the car and head for Jonkershoek or Tokia or Delvera, where do we go? On Sunday morning Ralf Naf and his Swiss Power crew pitched up to check out the Downhill, it’s like Lionel Messi coming over for a kick about! And don’t talk about Hout Bay, it’s just a mess of roadies and runners, mind you it helps that its only dark by 8:30pm, you can go fer a ride after supper! I could live in Stellenbosch, if it wasn’t for the winter, or not having a job, or its very expensive, or farm riots, or too many foreigners, or I like Nellies too much!
In Nellies Todd and Tom Tom Tony took a handful of Gangers thru the Gorge and from the pics the river was full, so much so that they came across plenty of Hippo footprints – maybe Lewis is back in town? Anyway thanks guys and unfortunately I’m away again this weekend to interview candidates for the CSA CEO post so no more riding for me!
But fear not, after tons of peer pressure Dennis has relented to host a Sabie Classic pre ride this Saturday – 40 and 75 will be catered for but I’d suggest you get entered for the race now as it’s filling up faster than Hoss meat in an English Lasagne! Meet Saturday morning at Bambanani Hall at 7 for 7:30. NO BACKUP VEHICLE/SUPPORT. BRING YOUR OWN DRINKS ETC.
The 2013 kit is proving to be a bit of a mission but it is on the way so hopefully be here by Sabie, in the meantime here is the membership form if you need to renew in Jan or Feb.
As a Chaingang bonus, Valencia has printed 2013 race calendars that you can stick on yer fridge (over those bad Picasso’s yer rug rats did!) pick your free one up at the Valencia Chill Zone at Sabie!
Also with the recent closure of Panorama Cycles in White River, Valencia is now the BMC dealer for Mpumalanga, new stock is on it’s way so if you are the type of rider who demands the best then come over and check out the 2013 stock!
The anticipation is growing, the Mankele boys, Dennis and in particular Jaco from Induna have some awesome new trails mapped out but the big news is that you can now enter as a SOLO rider! Yip, no need for sleeping with yer smelly farty mate, you can now enjoy the whole experience on your own, just you, yer bike and the best riding the High – and Lowveld has to offer – go to www.mankele.co.za to get entered!
BTW, for all the latest MTB news and general skinny follow me on Twitter – @brettmtb, Im also using it to announce rides now as well as sms.
See ya on the dirt!