St. Ives Lodge and Restaurant on the Midlands Meander shared its MTB Park and Trails with the 2016 KZNMTB Provincial Downhill Series – presented by Greg Minnaar Cycles on Sunday 21 February. The most memorable moment of the day was for Junior Christopher Philogene, when he beat the time set by multiple World Champion Greg Minnaar and took the overall men’s title.
The scorching KwaZulu-Natal sun pierced through the trees and tents on the day, enough to leave a few pink patches on spectators, but the crisp mountain breeze made it much more bearable for the riders. Riders had to complete two runs down the hill side with the fastest run determining their result.
Only able to do one run before catching a flight, local and international Downhill hero, Greg Minnaar started off the day with a difficult-to-match time of 01:32.95. The first few runs after Minnaar weren’t close enough to be a worry, although the super competitive Vets Men category provided the always-expected entertainment as they battled each other for the top position.
Then the crowd went silent, but the silence soon changed to cheers of excitement when youngest Philogene brother, Christopher, beat Minnaar’s time at a whopping 01:29.45 in his first run. “Today started off very good,” said Philogene. “The weather in the morning was overcast, the track was tacky until the first run it got a bit dry,” he added.
Philogene said that he was “stoked” when he came across the finish line. “I found out that I beat Greg (Minnaar) even though I don’t know if he was trying his hardest but I was stoked,” he said.
The 17-year-old had only great things to say about the venue: “St. Ives is awesome, there’s a ‘lekker’ view of the track and a great vibe here, especially and the Greg Minnaar Cycles tent and the music playing, and the BOS energy drinks was all so nice. I’m really looking forward to the next one at Giba Gorge as well – it’s my favourite track.”
Although the Elite Men gave a solid effort for both runs, Philogene managed to hold onto the hotseat for the rest of the day, pipping Elite Men’s Tiaan Odendaal.
Sub Vets Men winner, Craig Paul said: “Yesterday, the Enduro was terrible for me – I just wasn’t fit enough so I puzzled a bit and I was destroyed by the cross-country riders.”
Today went much better for Paul. “It was great to win my category, but I still got smoked by the kids,” he said. In the same breath, he mentioned how impressed he was at the level of riding and how its been improving. “There’s a group of guys out there every weekend pushing each other, and it shows in the results now. They’re all cracking top tens and top fives, and its really good to see,” he said.
Paul was happy with the turnout over the weekend as well. “With 87 riders in the Downhill and 124 in the Enduro, its awesome to see both disciplines growing,” he said.
Kathryn Fourie, who won the Sub Vets Women category, had made a major recovery overnight as she had fallen ill and could not take part in the Enduro the day before. “It went pretty good,” she said.
“Its different hitting it at race pace because the course is short but its quite intense and you’ve got to learn the corners quite well, and it changes quite a lot as time goes on,” she added. Fourie also received her South African colours for her performance in the World Masters Downhill Championships last year.
Fourie had practiced the course the week before. “I even practiced the jump that I did my AC joint on last time – that was my big nemesis and I never finished my run last year. It went really well. At a fast pace the open corners were more difficult so that was definitely something we had to control during our race runs. In the end I got two almost identical times. I don’t think I could have gone any faster to be honest, but I’m just really happy I didn’t end up in the hospital,” she laughed.
The laughter and camaraderie among the downhill riding community echoed through the midlands forest all the way from the top of the hill to the finish line, throughout each and every age group. Nipper Boys winner Caleb Archer, said: “I love downhill racing. My favourite downhill track is Cascades. Today’s race was very nice, and fun, and cool, but mostly fast.
Round two of the 2016 KZNMTB Provincial DHI Series – presented by Greg Minnaar Cycles takes place at Giba Gorge MTB Park (near Pinetown) on Sunday 27 March.
Entries are open and close on Wednesday 23 March 2016. (http://www.roag.co.za/eventinfo.aspx?EventID=1727). For any further details, please visit www.kznmtb.co.za.
Summary of Results – KZNMTB Provincial DOWNHILL Series #1 – 21 February 2016
Full results will be available soon at www.elitetiming.co.za
1.Tiaan Odendaal 01:29.45
2.Jonathan Philogene 01:31.85
3.Samuel Bull 01:32.80
1.Kim Westbrook 02:04.80
2.Tammy Sturrock 02:16.82
3.Lauren Hoyer 02:25.70
1.Christopher Philogene 01:29.45
2.Sharjah Jonsson 01:36.99
3.Cullen McMaster 01:37.69
1.Jason Williams 01:36.95
2.Shaun Smale 01:44.16
3.Kayle Seaward 15:47
Sub Junior Men
1.Kyle Brand 02:05.92
Sub Junior Women
1.Sabine Thies 02:04.19
1.Keagan Brand 02:18.20
Sub Veteran Men
1.Craig Paul 01:39.57
2.Cyril Spence 01:40.74
3.Mark Millar 01:43.23
Sub Veteran Women
1.Kathryn Fourie 02:01.51
2.Joanne Hicks 02:11.46
3.Tamryn Taylor 02:22.93
1.Craig Seawood 01:47.09
2.Grant Dekker 01:50.41
3.Leigh Hand 01:54.59
1.Peter Hoyer 01:26.97
1.Caleb Archer 03:42.00