After a successful weekend in Knysna two weeks ago we had some time to build on the good form we had and prepare for another Ultra Marathon in Ballito.
We had a good week of training after Knysna and did some proper riding. Unfortunately, last week I got a bit sick and had to take a couple of days off the bike to let the body recover, taking some medication and doing all I could to get better before the weekend. Johann was still motivated and even with the poor weather down in the Cape he kept up with his training to get ready for the race.
After arriving in Durban at mid-day on Friday afternoon, our mechanic Vian picked us up at the airport and built our bikes. We were then off for a nice afternoon pre-race ride. We checked the bikes while we rode and making sure everything was in order for the big race the next day.
We had decided to ride Continental X-King front and rear wheels again as there was some rain predicted for the weekend. Johann was also trying out a new set of full carbon wheels from South Industries that is "handgemaak" in Cape Town and a proudly South African brand!
A good night’s sleep in Tsogo Sun Garden Court Durban and we were ready for race day!
The 98km laying ahead of us would be a tough one, with quite a versatile route that was set out for the day and also a very strong field on the start line. The start was quite steady but the pace also picked up progressively as the kilometers were turned over. The front group stayed fairly big during the race, not having a lot of major climbs to thin out the pack too much. We were about twelve guys riding together for the first 60km. The group consisted of Max Knox, Nico Bell, Gert Heyns, Phillip Buys, Matthys Beukes, Lourens Luus, Andrew Hill, Willie Smit, Waylon Woolcock, Julian Jessop, Johann Rabie and myself.
After 68km Gert put the hammer down just before the second feed zone, with that it was only Max who was able to follow and join him in front. The two built up quite a good gap and just behind them we were about seven guys trying to get it going to bring them back. I was struggling quite a bit and held on for as long as I could. The last test was a short steep climb with 6km to go to the finish. Nico attacked the group and rode clear with Johann and Lourens in pursuit.
Coming into the finish Johann got pipped on the line by Lourens and finished in a credible fifth place. I rolled in just behind Waylon to finish in ninth. The route was very well marked and all rounded for every type of rider, being one of the easier routes it was nice having a fast paced intensive race for the day.
Feeling content with what we achieved, we will keep on building towards some good racing that is laying ahead for the last part of the year.Next up for us with Team Telkom will be the Burger mountain Bike race in Stellenbosch. (Photos By Zoon Cronje ZCMC)
Thanks to Team Telkom for the great support once again and for making it possible for us to race our bikes at the top level of mountain biking.
(Photos By Zoon Cronje ZCMC)
Also a big shout out to all our sponsors: Merida for the mountain bikes, Fizik shoes and saddles, Continental tyres, Look pedals and to Biogen for the supplements.
9. HB Kruger
10. Julian Jessop
Until next time, keep the rubber side down.