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Hill, Bird dominate inaugural Dusi2c MTB race
- Updated: June 23, 2013
TIB Insurance team riders Andrew Hill and Tyron Bird emerged with top honours at the end of stage one of the inaugural Dusi2c mountain bike race, from the start of the famous canoe marathon at Camps Drift, to Mfula Store.
Hill and Bird used two GPS systems, one set to 50 metres ahead and the other to 150 metres, which gave them both a near and longer distance view and it worked a treat as they roared through the up-and-down course and on to stage victory in 2hr 32min 47sec.
“It’s unbelievable riding! It’s like it’s always been there. I think the Green Corridor helps a lot. The concept of riding down through the Valley is really special. It’s even better on a bike [than doing it in a boat],” said Hill.
“I’ve never ridden stuff like that in my life before. It was fantastic,” Bird chimed in.
“In some places I couldn’t believe the guys had cut a track because the bush is so thick and then there is this amazing, groomed track. It’s like it has been there forever. It was unreal.”
Finishing second on the day was the Coffeeberry Momsen team of Trevor Rowe and Mark Malherbe in a time of 2:45:19, well behind Hill and Bird. Their team-mates, Con Malherbe and Kim Phillips, came home in sixth.
It was very different, said Rowe of the challenge of competing with a GPS unit. “You’ve got to keep your eye on your Garmin a lot. Concentration levels have to be right up there. It was hard to get into a rhythm, but the conditions were amazing: awesome single track, loose rocks, sharp climbs and twisty trails ÔÇô phenomenal riding.
“It’s the way to go. It’s the way we’re trying to move with our races,” said race organiser Glenn Haw of the use of GPS. One of South Africa’s leading MTB racers, Brandon Stewart, who claimed first in the mixed category and 12th overall with his wife Bridgette, remarked: “It was a fantastic course, so many nice trails, and such a nice balance of everything. I think, in the future, the only thing Glenn is going to have to worry about is this race overtaking Sani2c!”
The use of GPS by the two-person teams made for an innovative, new challenge for the competitors and although it got the better of some people at times, it was something that when used well enabled the top riders to maintain a high speed.
The leading ladies’ team, VeloLife, crossed the line in 14th place overall. Like the rest of the teams, they were blown away by the tracks they had traversed. “It was stunning, amazing,” said Hungarian Eszter Erdelyi, who now calls South Africa home. “Between the two of us, we probably got lost twice, but it was good,” smiled her partner Lise Olivier, the 2011All Africa Games time trial champion.
Brandon and Bridgette Stewart were a class apart in the mixed category and that was despite what Brandon termed “a user error in the beginning” with the GPS unit, which led to them losing 15 minutes after they missed a turn onto the single track.
“For pure hearted mountain bikers, this event is going to get crazy,” he predicted. “It’s a good race to hone your skill, for sure,” added Bridgette, “not much district roads. From a partnership point of view, you can’t help each other that much, but the trails are cool.”
The RMB Change a Life Academy, usually associated with the Dusi Canoe Marathon, showed they know a thing or two about cycling too, placing four teams inside the top 10, with fourth-placed John Ntuli and Bongumusa Zikhali leading the way.
“It was hard to get warm early on, said Ntuli, but once they hit the Valley they did well, even without the use of a GPS unit. “It helped a lot,” Ntuli reckoned, “because three days ago we rode from Mission Rapid to Mfula Store. We know each and every corner. It’s our Valley and we know the routes.”
Dusi canoe champion Lance Kime exchanged his paddle for a mountain bike and was glad he did so. “It was so pleasant today,” he said. “If we could race Dusi in these conditions, it would be absolutely ideal. It was chilly in the morning, but after 10 minutes into the ride it was a perfect temperature.”
Being a Dusi paddler was an advantage when it came to navigation, he reckoned. Kime was also surprised to find the path cleared in some areas that he expected to find bush.
“The one that stood out was just before Marianne Foley Causeway. That was an amazing section of bush, where there are no houses or anything, and they’ve cut what must be a three or four kilometre downhill stretch. An absolutely amazing track!
“I’ve ridden mountain biking courses all around the country and that has got to be one of the best tracks I have ever ridden, just endless downhill, swerving corners and drop-offs. Very, very cool!”
The event came about after the Natal Canoe Club, the organisers of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, approached Farmer Glenn, who is well known as the man behind the Sani2c, about the possibility of staging a mountain bike race along the route of the famous canoe marathon.
It wasn’t easy getting it together, but Haw, a Dusi Rat, used his organisational experience to ensure the people of the Valley were included and would benefit from the event. It helped that the Dusi Canoe Marathon had established close ties with the chiefs and their people, he explained.
“The Dusi Canoe Marathon gives us some jobs. This mountain bike race gives us a little bit more because the people in the area are helping to run the race,” said Inkhosi Robert Zamani Shangase.
“It’s policy, we employ locals and even if it’s going to cost us a bit more, that’s what we’re going to do,” said Haw. “So we’ve done that and the guys have been great.”
Haw said the actual racing aspect of the Dusi2c was a secondary consideration. “The bigger picture is that we’re working with Durban Green Corridor and we’re promoting this whole area for tourism.
“It’s not just about mountain biking. Really, this event is to try and expose the area. We’ve got TV and the media around it, and we’re trying to use that, and we also want to show that the area is safe.”
The race was widely hailed by the competitors as an exceptional day’s cycling, with the riders speaking as one at the finish, praising the course devised by “Farmer” Glen Haw and his team.
DAY ONE RESULTS
1 Team TIB Unsurance Brokers (Andrew Hill, Tyron Bird) 2:32:47
1 Team TIB Unsurance Brokers (Andrew Hill, Tyron Bird) 2:32:47
2 Coffeeberry Momsen (Trevor Rowe, Mark Malherbe) 2:45:18
3 PeptoPro Racing (Jarrad van Zuydam, Stu Rawlinson) 2:47:43
4 RMB Change a Life (John Ntuli, Bongumusa Zikhali) 2:48:35
5 RMB Change a Life 1 (Sizwe Mkhasibe, Mboneni Ngcobo) 2:52:20
6 Coffeeberry Momsen (Con Malherbe, Kim Phillips) 2:52:26
7 Midlands Masters (Collin Stroberg, Paul Lancaster) 2:54:59
8 RMB (Kwanda Mhlope, Nhlanhla Cele) 2:56:31
9 RMB Change a Life 2 (Thembani Zwane, Sabelo Mncwuabe) 2:57:30
10 X10Siv (Nick Floros, David Cooke) 2:57:48
First Mixed: (12th overall) FedGroup Itec (Brandon Stewart, Bridgette Stewart) 3:07:26
First Ladies: (14th overall) VeloLife (Eszter Erdelyi, Lise Olivier) 3:12:44
The final stage of the dusi2c mountain bike race takes place from Mfula Store to Blue Lagoon in Durban on Sunday.