Once a year mountain bikers get Clarens and its surrounding trails all to themselves during the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series event which also hosted the South African Marathon National Championships this year, elevating the importance of the race substantially. Perfect autumn weather made for cool starts and warm days as riders battled each other for the coveted green and gold stripes at altitudes in excess of 1700metres above sea level.
It goes without saying that National Championships draw strong competition and this year was no exception with riders converging from all over the country to contest the titles. This made for fast racing from the start as last year’s champion Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB Team) forced the pace at the King of the Mountain prime not even 30km into the 112km event. About 15 of us survived this opening salvo and we stayed together until Max Knox attacked just after the halfway point.
Nobody could match Max and he sailed to his 2nd National Champion’s jersey with Gawie finishing 2nd after dropping Waylon Woolcock (USN Purefit) in the final singletrack. Despite working tirelessly to keep his team mate Gawie in contention Nico Bell finished 4th to take the lead in the National MTB series.
I just kept on keeping on while others didn’t, sneaking on to the podium with 10th place which was a pleasant surprise albeit one I am proud of. Persistence pays off.
1.Max Knox 04:10:00
2.Gawie Combrinck 04:11:35 Nad Pro MTB Team
3.Waylon Woolcock 04:13:29 USN Purefit
4.Nico Bell 04:15:24 Nad Pro MTB Team
5.Darren Lill 04:24:01 USN Purefit
6.Hendrik (HB) Kruger 04:25:37 Team Telkom
7.Matthew Beers 04:25:40 Cannondale Red-E
8.Timothy Hammond 04:27:31
9.Pieter Seyffert 04:28:42 Alltech Autopage
10.Ben Melt Swanepoel 04:29:20 Squirtlube
From the dizzying heights of Clarens we now head to the Lowveld for the Panorama Tour, Sabie Experience and Forest to Falls.
Until next time, happy trails!