Northern Farms is one of the foremost mountain bike destinations in and around Johannesburg. On Saturday they hosted the 4th edition of the Believe MTB Race which is an event in charity of the CHOC Foundation. In sporting circles this childhood cancer foundation is mostly known for wearing their elaborate cow costumes while competing all across SA.
Marc Bainbridge invited me to participate at the event and I didn’t need any other excuses to go and check out one of Johannesburg’s original bike parks.
It first I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a race or a social ride, but any doubts were erased when the starter’s gun sounded and we went belting out of the start gate. Through a cloud of dust and a pack of elbow wielding cyclists, I made my way to the front – now quite certain of everyone else’s aspirations. Seeing as I made an effort to get to the front, I kept it going hoping to thin down the field. This worked and going into the first singletrack I was leading a quartet of riders. The four of us made our way through the tight, freshly cut single track keeping our lead intact.
A few more accelerations and it was only Julius Cobbet and me at the head of affairs by the time we reached the halfway mark of the 55km race. Going into a rocky section I hit my back wheel on a sharp edge causing an impact puncture on the bead of my tyre. Whether it was negligent riding on my behalf or sheer bad luck didn’t matter as I was forced to stop and inflate the damaged tyre. I got going pretty quick, but the tyre kept losing air forcing me to stop again, remove the wheel and shake it to allow the Joe’s Sealant to reach the affected area. The Joe’s did it’s trick, but by this time I was well out of the top 10.
This is mountain biking and anything can happen, so I got going and put in a big effort hoping to catch back up to the leaders. The flat course and winding nature didn’t allow for a quick chase back, but it sure was a lot of fun riding the sweeping trails. The loose surface and tight corners forced me to stay concentrated and if nothing else, it was a good skills workout.
I caught back up to 4th place, but that was as good as it was going to get. Julius Cobbet just held on to his lead winning the race about 40 seconds ahead of Craig Uria and a strong riding Shaun Baloyi.
Much more than any result or good training session the race was about a cause and it felt good to be part of something so positive. Seeing all the volunteers and sponsors unite and give their time and effort really put things in perspective and made the day well worthwhile.
I look forward to being back next year and racing some ‘cows’ for another shooter filled glass trophy.
Thanks to Marc Bainbridge and everyone involved with this meaningful event.
Until next time, happy trails!