Image credit: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media

Fresh off a race-ending broken rim at the UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg, the bounce of the ball has continued not to go Davids’ way recently as a frustrating double puncture forced him out of the 60km Sappi Karkloof Marathon before a stomach bug saw him run out of steam in the final lap of the third leg of the 2014 SA MTB Cup Series in Mankele this past weekend.

“The Sappi Karkloof Classic was obviously a huge bummer for me and then the UCI category 1 cross country race up at Mankele this past weekend was also very disappointing,” explained Davids.

“I’d also hoped to head over to Germany for this weekend’s World Cup in Albstadt but that unfortunately didn’t work out either.

“Fortunately the body is feeling strong again though and my coach, Jeroen Swart, has been working me really hard this past so hopefully I can go to Howick this weekend and try hone my skills a bit and look to work really hard on my speed ahead of the SA Cross-Country Champs in particular, as well as the SA Marathon Champs next weekend,” he added.

Despite the rub of the green having not gone his way of late, the Trek South Africa competitor is hoping local knowledge of the renowned Howick trails and a passion for Sunday’s event will signal a turning of the tides for the under-23 ace.

“I grew up in the area and I’ve been riding the Howick trails since I was thirteen years old so I’m really looking forward to going back to my roots this weekend!” he said eagerly.

“The race is one of the longest standing events in KwaZulu-Natal and is probably one of the most popular events with the riders because of the incredible, unique single track it offers so it will be great to go back and race there again for the first time in four years!

The Sappi plantations that surround the small, quiet town of Howick will come alive on Sunday and Davids was quick to rate the trails of the region as on a par with those of the renowned Karkloof area.

“Sappi has such great grounds, both in Howick and Karkloof, for events to be staged and the single track through Howick, just like Karkloof, is just incredible!

“The Howick course’s single track lends itself to the technically strong, cross-country type rider and the climbs are long so that is definitely another area I’ll look to take advantage of on Sunday.

“The race starts and finishes at Howick High School and this just seems to really bring the whole community together and get behind the event, so it is a pretty special race at all.

With 2013 winner Patrick Belton having called it a day on his competitive career earlier this year, the door is wide open for a new winner to be crowned however few would be brave enough to bet against Davids’ strength and determination, especially as he looks to put a disappointing period behind him as he moves towards the second half of the year.

The popular Howick event offers participants the choice of the 40km Sappi Howick MTB Classic, 20km SPAR Intermediate Ride or the 10km Fun Ride and takes place at Howick High School on Sunday 1 June.