Hessequa MTB Challenge, Riversdale, 88km, 1800m
This would be a new race for me, but with familiar hospitality from Dryland Events who have fast become one of the leading race organizers in the country. With Supersport TV coverage, helicopters, good prize money and organizers going out their way to accommodate professiona and amateur riders, it only made sense for me to go take part and represent FedGroup-ITEC in Riversdale. And the route, which would be the ‘pudding’, wouldn’t disappoint and featured some superb mountain bike trails, with a variety of jeep tracks, single tracks and gravel roads through the plantations of the Garcia Pass and surrounding Hessequa Farmlands.
The mass start saw all the various distances start together, including even the trail run. With Carel (AKA the Dutchie) as MC, the race began with a vibe, and after a short neutral zone, the race was on the go!
I mentally split the race in to two sections, the race to the King of the mountain, and then the final race to the line, reason being equal prize money for the King, and for first place overall.
After a few efforts, it was only Gert Heyns and myself left out front, and we would be boxing clever trying to save as much energy for the King, whilst still trying to test each other out.
The King was at the 70km mark, and the climb was not easy, nor was the pace that Gert set from the bottom, but both of us matched each others efforts, and it was only in the final 2km from the top that I managed to put in a big effort and get the gap I needed to take the King. From there we descended the fairly technical downhill off the mountain known as Cliffhanger, where I would have enough of a gap to ride conservatively and not take any chances. Unfortunately Gert had a slow puncture to deal with, but this afforded me the gap I needed to race to the finish without taking chances and bag the Hessequa win.
The Mayor of Riversdale, who gave us her commitment to grow the race to the best of their/her ability going forward, presented the fantastic prize money sponsored by the Spar. Together with Dryland events, I have no doubt this race will grow into one of the big classics on the calendar.
Next race, race, we go straight back to Underberg to race Sani2C with the trails still freshly engraved in our minds from the past weekend. Max and I will team up again and we are starting to gel well together, so Im really looking forward to this race.
Till then, cheers.
1st Kevin Evans (FedGroup-ITEC) 3hrs33
2nd Gert Heyns (PYG Academy) 3hrs37
3rd Vickus Boshoff (Coimbra Cycles George)