Howick – KwaZulu-Natal's mountain biking fraternity celebrated the Sappi Howick MTB Classic & Enduro's 30th anniversary in style on Saturday, 5 and Sunday, 6 March as Alan Hatherley and Frankie du Toit claimed the 40km Classic titles while Tiaan Odendaal and schoolgirl Charné Dreyer won the first ever staging of the event's Enduro race.
Hatherly (Kargo Pro Cycling) won a three way sprint to the line from Stuart Marais and Tyronne White to retain the title he won last year.
Hatherly said that competing in the KZN XCO champs the day before had taken its toll on him.
"It was pretty tough in the beginning," said Hatherly. "I definitely felt it in the legs so I decided to ride with the group for most of the day."
"Stuart (Marais) had a very good race," said Hatherly. "It was only in the last five kays or so that I was warmed up. It came down to the end sprint and luckily I managed to get home ahead of him.
"I could definitely see it was Stuart's home ground! He was fast on the descents," said Hatherly. "It was a lot of fun on the super single track in this part of the country."
He added that the conditions and updated layout had made for a faster race. "I found it a lot faster than last year. The single track was a lot more Cross Country in style. That's what we need to get used to our tyres and our bikes."
Frankie du Toit made it a double for the Kargo Pro team as she raced away to post an emphatic four minute win in the women's race over schoolgirl Chriestie-Leigh Hearder, with Andrea de Boer wrapping up the last spot on the podium.
"We had a bit of a neutral zone in the beginning so I stuck with the group," said du Toit. "The race started on the climb and that's where I went as hard as I could."
"I managed to get into the single track with quite a fast group of guys and I stuck with them. I didn't see any ladies the whole race!"
She lauded the move of the race date to earlier in the year. "The conditions are far more pleasant to ride in. I remember it being freezing on the start line last year!"
In the 20km Intermediate race, Clinton Bullard charged home ahead of Dreyer Botma and Sam Moore while Elisabeth Raymakers edged out Judy Gous and Tarryn Bray for the women's spoils.
While the more experienced participants soaked up the technically challenging nature of the 'raw and unplugged' 40km and 20km routes, families, novices and the stars of tomorrow enjoyed their morning in the saddle during the 10km Kids race.
The 2016 Sappi Howick MTB Enduro took place on Saturday the 5th of March in perfect weather conditions with an excellent turn out. 102 Enduro racers took to the hills to experience three lengthy stages, designed to suit riders of all levels and accessible on all types of mountain bikes.
In the ladies overall division it was young sub-junior Charné Dreyer who took top honours over sub-vet Kathryn Fourie in second and senior Kim Westbrook in third. Dreyer, a Howick local, has recently started posing a serious threat to the senior women, having come third overall at the last Greg Minnaar Cycles KZN MTB Provincial Enduro at St Ives.
“I’m so pleased for Charné," said Westbrook. "She’s really been putting in the time and training hard so it’s great to see that paying off”.
Unfortunately, the event date clashed with the second KZN MTB Provincial XCO, meaning riders such as sub-junior Sabine Thies and junior Sharjah Jonnson were absent from the days racing.
In the men’s overall division, Downhill senior rider Tiaan Odendaal took first place over senior Craig Paul and Downhill World Cup racer Sam Bull. Despite a more pedal orientated Enduro race, it seems the Downhillers can still hold their own against the cross-country riders when they need to.
Nigel Hicks, KZN MTB Downhill commissaire, also rode the event with a group of friends. “I thoroughly enjoyed the day out with my mates, it was hard work in the pedal sections but the trails are running well and the whole vibe of the event was relaxed and fun. We enjoyed messing about at the Sappi frame and taking some pics, it was fun all round”.
Adding to the festivities, title sponsor Sappi's social media competition saw those a little further back in the field take time out during their ride to snap a photo of themselves when they passed the Sappi photo frame at the Shafton Fire Tower and post it on the HMBC Facebook page using #HMBC and #InspiredByLife to stand a chance of winning one of several prizes, including an Apple iPod.
More information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za or www.facebook.com/howickmtb.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
2016 SAPPI HOWICK MTB CLASSIC & ENDURO
SAPPI HOWICK MTB CLASSIC
1. Alan Hatherley 1:46:48
2. Stuart Marais 1:46:49
3. Tyronne White 1:46:55
4. Jedson Tooms 1:51:12
5. Sean Merredew 1:51:16
6. Marco Joubert 1:53:13
7. Andrew Warr 1:53:52
8. Carl Calverley 1:56:27
9. Mazwi Smimango 1:57:54
10. Callan Deacon 1:58:03
1. Frankie du Toit 2:09:06
2. Chriestie-Leigh Header 2:13:07
3. Andrea de Boer 2:19:26
4. Nadine Nunes 2:28:48
5. Sarah Drew 2:31:14
1.Clinton Bullard 1:05:35
2.Dreyer Botma 1:05:53
3.Sam Moore 1:05:59
1.Sarah Ryan 1:06:00
2. Elisabeth Raymakers 1:06:53
3.Judy Gous 1:14:53
SAPPI HOWICK ENDURO
1.Tiaan Odendaal 24:17
2.Craig Paul 24:34
3.Sam Bull 24:34
1.Charné Dreyer 30:12
2.Kathryn Fourie 31:09
3.Kim Westbrook 32:50