Sunday, September 20, 2009

Karoo to Coast

Karoo to Coast Mountainbike Challenge

The 11th edition of the classic mountainbike race, The Karoo to Coast took place on Sunday in near perfect conditions for the event. This year would also see a record number of entrants, in excess of two and half thousand riders! And there is only one distance in this event, the grueling 100km, from Uniondale in the Karoo, over the Prince Alfreds pass all the way down to Knysna. The event featured on the Drifter series for a few years, and though it’s not part of a series anymore, it’s great to see a continuous growth in this event. As usual the organization was really good, and everything went like clock work at registration and on the day.
The race is fairly straight forward, apart from the first 15km which goes over the “Ou Wapad” or wagon trail, the rest of the race is on good gravel roads, but with plenty of climbing and fast speeds. I was content to sit back as the race started and see who would make the racing. It was Team GT’s Arno Viljoen who set the tempo up the first climb, followed by team mate and SA XC Elite champion Erik Kleinhans. I decided to ride cautiously down the other side to try and avoid my regular flat wheel in this section. Soon afterwards, the three of us were caught by 2 other riders, C Muller (Maties Cycling) and Dominique Calitz also from the Cape.
After the long descend down the Alfreds Pass, I took over setting the pace on the next climb and soon it was just myself and the GT boys for company. I kept working with them, slowly putting in bigger efforts to begin wearing the guys down. As we traversed from the Karoo into the indigenous forests of Knysna, I managed to ride Arno off as he was tiring from his first hard efforts of the day. Now I was left with Erik who was still looking good. When I won the race in 2005, I did it on the final climb up Gouna, a steep 3km pull before dropping down the last 5km into Knysna and the finish. I threw everything I had left into the last climb, and made a big effort as we started it to get a gap. As soon as I had a gap, I pushed on to extend it as much I could to the top. It was all down from there into Knysna where I had amazing support from all my local supporters who’d come to watch.
It was probably my tenth time in the race, and having only won it once before, it felt really special and ended off a good hard week of training. So I should be ready for my final month of racing coming up, hope to hold the form till then!
Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)
2nd Erik Kleinhans (GT)
3rd Dominique Calitz