It’s great to be racing bikes again at Zuurberg
A podium position at the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek eluded Chris Wolhuter today, but for him it was a welcome return to racing.
The mountain bike season can take its toll. With races starting in January and running right through to the end of November, it can be a long year and as a racer one needs to plan their seasons with calculated precision.
A few weeks ago, a chest infection forced me to take some unplanned rest.
I originally scheduled my busy calendar to culminate at the end of May with the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek and whilst I have fortunately fully recovered, it did mean I had to miss two other great events.
Racing got underway at 8.30am this morning atop the Zuurberg Pass and this meant we could enjoy a mellow lie in in our luxury tents and an extra cup of cappuccino before we endured a trip to the pain cave.
The level of competition has stepped up again this year, with the guys from BCX on the start line as well as Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit.
Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert also teamed up while I lined up alongside my 2016 Cape Epic partner, Craig Boyes.
The first stage is characterised by the fantastic trails down the Seven Dwarves Drop and then a steep kicker up Monty’s Python.
Whilst Craig and I were just off the first three teams at this point, Craig got his 36 tooth chain ring rolling and we pulled back into the party at the front.
The status quo remained unchanged over the next 30km with all four teams working well together.
Bar a couple of hard accelerations, which briefly split the group, we all started the final climb and ascent of the Zuurberg Pass back up to the finish at the Inn together.
BCX stamped their authority on affairs and took the stage win. In second was Gert and Arno who were able to hold off Marco and Andrew.
Craig and I were just off the podium in fourth while the Pedal and Cleat team finished as the top Eastern Cape team in fifth.
The Queen stage awaits tomorrow – a brutally tough excursion inland with a brief foray into the Karoo before coming back to the today’s familiar Addo bush.
There will be some rough terrain and big climbs, but man it’s great to be racing bikes again!
CAPTION: Chris Wolhuter leads teammate Craig Boyes up a climb on the first stage of the Great Zuurberg Trek that took place in the Addo region of the Eastern Cape today. Photo: Full Stop Communications