Despite the demands of Sunday’s challenging 60km race, Rossouw believes also tackling Friday evening’s night 20km outing is well within reach for most riders and a challenge he urges more to attempt.
“The 60km race on the Sunday is one I will never miss and this year’s race is one I’m really looking forward to however the Friday evening night race is just such incredible fun and one I can’t miss either!” says an enthusiastic Rossouw.
“I did both races last year and really enjoyed them and it is a challenge I’m looking forward to again this weekend.
“It’s definitely possible to be competitive in both, especially if you’ve been training a bit. My build-up has gone really well for me and I will be looking to give it my all at Friday’s night race before seeing how things go on Sunday!” he adds.
Starting and finishing at the Karkloof Country Club, Friday evening’s night race see riders head out on a relatively flat 20km loop that affords participants a rare opportunity to take on the challenge of riding the region’s renowned trails in the dark.
“The Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival never disappoints and is a really great opportunity to ride some of the best trails in the country!
“Riding at night obviously changes things quite a bit compared to what most are used to but the Karkloof Night Race takes place in a very safe environment and is something different, which I really enjoy.”
While an established mountain biker in the daylight himself, Rossouw warns that a cycling adventure in the dark offers a dramatically different challenge.
“One can’t underestimate how different riding at night is!
“Not being able to see where you’re going or predict what’s coming up next is a real challenge of night riding and so knowing the course really does help.
“You also need to make sure your equipment is in tip-top shape because your lighting is just so crucial when you’re out on the trails in the dark.
“Having two or even three lights is really useful as sometimes you’ll be going in one direction and need to see what’s directly in front of your bike but are also needing to start looking a little further down the trail to see what’s coming next.”
Rossouw also enjoys the added advantage of knowing the trails of the region better than most as the Sappi employ spends much of his working day on them.
“Working for Sappi, one of the best parts of my job is getting to explore all of our forests!” explains Rossouw.
“We get to maintain the forest roads that the event’s riders and I now get to use and enjoy in a racing environment this weekend, which is really exciting.”
Seeing his employer back one of his recreational passions is another hugely pleasing element of this weekend’s Sappi Karkloof MTB Festival for Rossouw.
“The Karkloof festival is one of the top mountain biking events in the country and having your own company support an event of that stature really is quite something!”
“At Sappi we’re ‘Inspired by life’ and a major part of that life is family life, which is something the Karkloof festival is big on as well, so the fit is just perfect!”
Despite having won the race before, Rossouw is under no illusions as to the size of the challenge ahead of him this time around is he is to claim victory in Friday’s night race once more.
Rossouw will need to overcome the likes of Darren Lill, Jedson Tooms, Gareth Cook and Klaas Meintjies while women’s defending champ Kim Westbrook will be hoping she too can get the better of the sizeable women’s field.
“Irrespective of who is there on Friday night though, it should be another really fun evening on the bike in the dark!” says Rossouw aptly.
Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB) while more information can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za and entries can be submitted via www.roag.co.za.