GZT gives Hill a vivid reminder

GZT gives Hill a vivid reminder

Although they have experienced it before, the opening stage of the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek gave TIB Insurance-Momsen Bikes pair Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert a vivid reminder of what riding in the Addo region is all about. Hill has loads of memories from the first day:

Oranges and uphills seem to punctuate the proceedings on the opening stage of the Great Zuurberg Trek.

The Sundays River Valley is a world-renowned citrus-growing region and we certainly got the premium tour of the valley, traversing the orchards and, at times, inadvertently testing first-hand the low hanging fruit as we slalomed through the zesty trees.

The morning started at the Addo National Elephant Park rest camp with an early alarm clock cry from the resident jackal just outside the base.

The tweets of the fiery necked nightjar and the call of the black-backed jackal unmistakably sum up the sound of the African bush for me.

It was a positive start as we headed out for our day in our “African office”.

There had been a touch of rain early in the morning and we hoped the moisture would help to settle the very dry and dusty trails on the route.

Staying at the Basecamp race village meant we had a short drive uphill to the Zuurberg Mountain Village for the race briefing at 8.15, with proceedings kicking off at 8.30.

The drive proved to be a great preview of the climb we’d be heading up later under pedal power – we both quietly knew this was where the race could be decided.

The stage one route was similar to previous editions and that helped us mentally as we were up against some of the strongest riders in South Africa.

We knew we’d have to use a bucket-load of local knowledge and sheer grunt to beat the other teams to the finish line, but we were definitely up for the challenge.

As we predicted, the race split heading up the Zuurberg Pass climb in the last 10km, with the BCX team of Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger making the initial move.

I responded and followed HB, hoping Marco would ride across, with Waylon 10 seconds behind.

Unfortunately the plan didn’t work this time and we settled into a tempo pace for the last 5km of the climb to the finish line for a handy top three podium finish.

Tomorrow holds the queen stage and we’ll be ready to tackle some really epic riding as we target another podium spot.

CAPTION: Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert enjoyed renewing their acquaintance with the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek on the opening day at the Zuurberg Mountain Village today. Photo: Full Stop Communications

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