“The weekend went really well, and my race couldn’t have gone much better to be honest, I had a really good practice,” said Garlicki. He described the course as “awesome” and said that the conditions were the best that the riders could have asked for.

ccs-62657-0-78886200-1463040719.jpgSolid Reverse Factory Racing’s Stefan Garlicki (Sponsored by Investec) took the Elite Men and overall win, at the third round of the 2016 SA National Downhill Cup series, which took place at Cascade Manor in Paarl on Sunday 1 May. Credit: Ewald Sadie.

Having only ever ridden the track before in very dry conditions, Garlicki added that it had always been dusty and slippery. “Because there had been rain a couple of days beforehand this time around, it made the course unbelievable. It felt like a rollercoaster. You had so much grip and it really was a lot of fun to ride. I think everyone really enjoyed it. At the same time, it definitely made the racing tighter because it made it a bit easier for more people to go fast, because of how the conditions were. You had to be really precise and have a perfect run,” he said.

In terms of the competition, the 25-year-old said: “There were Theo Erlangsen and Adi van der Merwe – the two quick local guys from down here, and then from up country we had Jono and Chris Philogene. Jono won the second National Cup at Giba Gorge, so he’s in good form, and Chris beat Greg (Minnaar) in a provincial race that side earlier this year. Both of them are really quick. So I knew it would be tough. I knew that I felt good on the course, I just had to make sure I held it together.”

Feeling confident at the beginning of the day after a great practice, Garlicki felt that he might just have had what it takes. “In the seeding run, however, the guys were a lot quicker than I had anticipated. And although I still seeded first, it was by point-zero-one, or something like that. So it was really tight,” he added.

Knowing that he hadn’t pedalled hard enough in the seeding, Garlicki thought that some extra bursts of pedal power might knock a few seconds off his time. “I managed to do just that and took four seconds of my seeding run time. Many of the other riders didn’t manage to do that and ended up with very similar times to their seedings. It needed to be perfect and I think I just had a really good run. There were a few mistakes made by the others, but that was the nature of the track, and you had to push the limits to make up time.

“I will however be in Europe racing the World Cup circuit so I won’t be at the next round in Karkloof. I have only ridden there once before in 2011, and really enjoyed it back then, and I’m not too sure how much has changed since then. But there were a lot of jumps; it was fast, and a great venue. I’m sure everyone will have a blast this time as well.

Garlicki then returns to the country to take place in SA National MTB Championships in Pietermaritzburg in mid July.

ccs-62657-0-02977400-1463040719.jpgThe Elite and overall Women’s title went to Kim Westbrook at the third round of the 2016 SA National Downhill Cup series, which took place at Cascade Manor in Paarl on Sunday 1 May. Credit: Ewald Sadie.

In an otherwise not-so-fortunate turn of events, Elite Women’s winner Kim Westbrook managed to injure herself before her actual race. “On my first day practicing I twisted my ankle badly and I couldn't walk on it. The physiotherapist sent me for x-rays as he thought it was broken,” she said.

Westbrook went to explain that she was lucky enough to be a “tough cookie” and doesn’t just “snap”. After confirmation of no broken bones, her ankle was strapped, and she took to the dirt for her practice on Saturday, and then her race on Sunday.

“The track was loads of fun,” she said. “It was different from the KwaZulu-Natal tracks, as sections were steeper than I'm used to. The roots were also interesting to negotiate. The tight hairpin corners were a challenge to hold speed through them,” she added.

Although now suffering with a very swollen foot, Westbrook rests well knowing that the title is hers. “I really enjoyed the challenge of the track. It's always a privilege to ride trails in other provinces. A win is always the cherry on the top of a good weekend of trail shedding,” she concluded.

The fourth round of the 2016 SA National Downhill Cup Series will double as the KZNMTB Provincial DHI Series, and take place at Karkloof on Sunday 22 May. For more information, click here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-mtb-cup-series/ or contact Dellah Paul on 082 781 5656 for administration info.

To see the full set of results, click here.