A fast and fun finish
Pro mountain biker Chris Wolhuter, who took second alongside Andrew Hill in the 2015 PwC Great Zuurberg Trek, shares his perspectives from the sharp end of the race.
The final stage of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek was dubbed the fun one, and the fun one it was. But really, mountain biking is fun most of the time, right?
A start loop, if you will, separated matters at the pointy end and gave Andrew and I the hole-shot down the technical trails into Hayterdale.
We knew that Kev and Pieter would be strong on the climbs so we had to take the race to them on the technical trails to try and make up the minute deficit separating us from the top step.
While we did originally manage to open that gap, they came back fighting and shut it down as we crested the first major climb of the day. We were now in the valley beneath Zuurberg Pass and much of the day’s riding would be on game trails through the thick Addo bush.
The bushveld was so dense in places that it could be disorientating as to where we were. The trails however were awesome and we had the fun dial turned up high.
We kept the pressure on to see if our counterparts would falter, but this they didn’t, so a temporary truce was reached until we began our final ascent of the pass.
Turning onto the pass, it was game on and Kev went to the front and upped the tempo. The Isostar youngsters who had managed to ride back onto us were the first casualties as the pace setting was taking over by Pieter.
Andrew then took over the reins for the final part of the climb. A last dig by Piet wasn’t enough to split the group and so it came down to a sprint finish between the two teams.
The slight downhill run into the finishing chute ended with an off-camber right-hand bend. I took the outside line and in doing so managed to carry more speed and opened the sprint to cross the line first.
The stage win would be decided by the first team across the line and, with Andrew edging out Kevin, we managed to take our second stage in as many days.
It was however not enough to displace Kevin and Pieter who rode a solid, consistent race to take the overall honours. The Isostar youngsters fended off the super ballies Andrew Mclean and Bruce Diesel to hold on to third on the stage and in the overall standings.
All in all the PWC Great Zuurberg Trek was a fantastic event, from the hospitality and excellent catering by the staff at the Zuurberg Mountain Village, to the race organisers and MC Greg Ritz.
The trails were different from anything I’ve encountered before and I really enjoyed them – this event is one to pencil into your diary for next year.