As mentioned in previous posts, Wines to Whales marked the last race of the season for me. It has been a long and tiresome one, with some rather difficult racing, and it is now time for a well deserved 4 week break from goal related training. This year I attempted to win my 3rd consecutive Wines to Whales with last years partner Nico Pfitzenmaier against the most stacked field in event history featuring, with reigning marathon World Champion Christoph Sauser and Konney Looser, and team Kargo’s Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker. The title defence was certainly not coming on a a silver platter.
The honest truth is that this year we really battled. With the the no.1 numberboards mounted on our bikes, a sub 10kg dual suspension suddenly felt like a 15kg race bike, and the pressure was on. Stage 1 for me was not so lekker. Going up the first climb my bike felt like it actually did weigh 15kg, and remained that way for the rest of the stage. At first I thought it was just a bad feeling that would go away, but in actual fact it just got worse, and although we fought tooth and nail and hung onto 4th place on the stage behind stage winners Christoph Sauser and Konny Looser, our GC hopes were out the window like litter out a taxi. The best we could hope to do was pull off a stage podium and possibly an overall podium.
Stage 2 brought a new day, and yesterday’s pain was a distant memory as I was back to my old self and trotted away from the rest of the field with the race leaders. The pace set by the leading two teams was solid and steady, and as a team we had to back off and settle into the chase group, where again we found ourselves scrambling for a podium spot. Unfortunately we didn’t quite have the kick needed and rolled home in 4th again, but this time only a few minutes behind the winning team, Sauser and Looser who out sprinted the young guns Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker on a course that brought smiles to so many riders’ faces.
2014 Was the first time I chose to ride a dual suspension at this race, and the fun factor on the trails increased ten fold! Thanks to the incredible hard work that the organisers have put into this event, we were greeted by world class singletrack on all 3 days. Berms, bridges, jumps, drops, rock gardens, you name it, the trails had it all. Never before has racing been so much fun, and the hoots and cheers while hitting some of the sections on my Rocky Mountain Element bore a great testimony!
Entering stage 3 we were in a dice for 4th position overall with team Altech’s Chris Wolhuter(Mr Ass Magic himself) and Hanco Kachelhoffer( the Ginga Ninja). Having made a sneaky move at the end of stage 2 and getting a 30 second gap on us, it was now our job close the gap on the last stage. Try as we might we could not shake them. They stuck to us like chewing gum to a shoe. We just could not scrape them off! Day 3 has been known as the least fun stage on Wines to Whales, but every year the organisers seem to add little bits here and there, and this year we were really treated to a quality route, which, as far as mountain bike races go is only perhaps shadowed by the stage 1 and 2 of this magnificent event. Looking back, it was a really memorable day and had me hooting with excitement at stages.
Before we knew it we were cruising over pallets at the beach in Onrus after having navigated some pretty amazing trails and climbs that surround Hermanus, and were involved in a 3 way sprint finish for 4th place. If you know me at all you will know how that ended.
Wines to Whales this year was next level. The competition improved, and the level of event improved. Without the sponsors that have committed to this event, the South African racing scene would really be poorer. So from my side a huge thanks must go out to the organisers, and the sponsors who have gotten stuck in to pull this off!
Right now marks the end of my season. It’s now time to trade the bike for a surf board, catch some rays, and if I’m lucky, some barrels. a huge thanks must go to my sponsors RSA Web for making this all happen, as well as all my other awesome supporting sponsors. You guys rock.
Until next time, surfs up bru!