Sunday, January 17, 2010

MTN #1, Attakwas Extreme MTB Challenge

MTN Attakwas Extreme MTB Challenge

The first leg of the MTN Ultra Marathon series took place on the weekend in Oudtshoorn, and the Attakwas, going into its forth year, was no doubt a suitable event for this ultra series!
The race is extreme in every sense of the word, extreme distance, 137km, extremely technical, and extremely hard! I reckon this will be rated as the toughest single day race in the country. Usually the route makes the race hard enough, but being part of the series this year, with the caliber of riders that came to take part, made it even tougher and faster than ever before.
Conditions on the morning were perfect, and a record number of entries saw batches leaving from the Chandelier Game farm, to start the first part of the race in the reserve. As usual there were a couple of guys eager to turn the pace up from the beginning and one had to follow all the moves just incase someone slipped away. But you always had to keep the distance in the back of your mind, and I think I had the biggest advantage over everyone as I had done all previous Attakwas races. I knew the route well and also the conditions of the terrain, so right down to tire choice, I was confident, but not sure where the form was compared to the rest of the guys.
The race consists of three sections for me, the first 45km, rolling through tough jeep track, then the “Attakwas” trail, a 35km hard jeep trail through the Outeniqua mountain range, and finally the last 60km of gravel roads to the finish in GrootBrak. The race only split up into pieces once we hit the start of the Attakwas trail, and it was only Burry Stander (Specialised/Mr Price), David George (Fullimput) and myself, riding a new bike for the first time in four years, a Volcan FS1. As we hit the hardest climb through the trail, Burry and myself opened a gap up on David, and then further extended this as we hit the technical descend down the other side. Things were looking good, and I was sure that Burry and I could work together once on the open roads. Unfortunately for him, he had a puncture only about 500meters from the end of the roughest part of the trail. This however left me out on my own, with a slight headwind, 60km of rolling roads, a chasing bunch behind me and no body to talk to!

I had timed the gaps to David George who was chasing by himself behind me, and he was clearly putting in a big effort to catch me as quickly as he could. I knew what still lay ahead and managed the time gaps with care, not to let myself get caught in the cat and mouse tactics, simply to conserve as much energy as possible for the tough final 15km. Dave was bridging a gap of about 4minutes, and just before the last two hard climbs, had me down to just 40seconds! This was where I used all the last of my saved energy and really powered up the climb to see if he had any thing left. It was as much as I could do, and if it was not enough, too bad. However, it was more than enough, his hard effort to catch me taking its toll, as I managed to ride close on 5minutes into him over the final 10km!
A close fought battle in the end, but a great way for me to start the season in pursuit of title number 6! Many other top riders suffered multiple punctures and mechanicals, but the Karoo terrain is relentless and I’m sure valuable lesson were learned out there! Also special mention to team mates Adrien, 5th after traveling back from Rwanda only 3days ago, and new team rider, Yolande Speedy, for winning the ladies by sheer dominance. (Over 35minutes and incredible 19th overall!)
Next race, Barberton at the end of the month, till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 5hrs43min
2nd David George (Fullimput) 5hrs48min
3rd Max Knox (DCM)
4th Ben Melt Swanepoel (MrPrice/Specialised)
5th Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Energade)


THE VIKING said...

Well done buddy 1 in the bag.

warren mckay said...

well done brother good start to the year,love the new bike and great reward for all the hard training during the break.keep those wheels rolling

Geotrailing said...

Congratulations - I am very interested to know what your tyre choice was

Shaun said...

I am going to ask the same question.. what was your tyre choice?

Brad Jackson said...

Thanks for a really great, well written race report.
I enjoy reading these.

All the best for 2010!