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  1. Western Cape Enduro MTB series. It would be a four-stage, titanic battle to find who be would become Western Province and South African Champions for the year. EWC #3 Video Highlights: The EWC management team paid the weather gods a significant amount to deliver the riders a cool and calm day, perfect for enduro. Stage one would be the Red Phoenix. A fast-flowing stage that got riders down to the bottom of the mountain with nothing but dead flies and insects on the number board and googles. Yes, it's that fast. Riders then had to liaison back to where they'd just come from to take on the much-feared and ever-deteriorating "Plumber". The Plumber, on a good day, is a bike breaker and body shaker. After a week of practice, it had not deteriorated but up-teriorated (an enduro word for a stage that gets blown out and increases in gnarliness). Each new rider attempting the descent would face a completely different set of rocks and half a foot of brown powder which would either wipe them off the face of this earth, cover them in dirt or spit them out wide-eyed and frothing. Once the riders had finished stage 2, they would commence the epic journey over to stage three. Stage three, or Armageddon, would present fitter riders with the opportunity to claw some time back. The long and winding stage had portions of the field whining to the “Stage Creator” about its opening flat sprint. Alas this was an enduro and an ounce of endurance is required. With this event being a Enduro World Series qualifier, riders would need this experience to help them overseas. Alas, this fell on deaf, tired ears. The field was exhausted by the end of stage 3 but had one more assault up to stage 4. The climb back up to the top of the mountain would be a brutal push or ride for all but this is where MTB enduro races build character. Stage 4 or “Iron Monkey” would be a 6 to 9-minute which brought on a tough rock garden and an abundance of loose, steep corners. Its real kicker was its length which would take riders right down to the parking lot and event HQ. Riders had lines of enthusiastic spectators to cheer/heckle them all the way back down to the finish line to conclude what was one hell of a day out! Thankfully, at the end of the day, Western Province's Matt Lombardi (an enduro rider) took top spot in the men and the now "EWC proclaimed" enduro rider, Zandri Strydom from Mpumalanga took first in the females. Some very close times in both categories - times here. The field had some of the top DH, XCO and marathon riders in the country competing for the title too. The entire field was filled with a mix of riders from all ages, disciplines, sexes, speeds, bike types, hair colours and provinces which had the scrap beaten out of them all day long. But the stages were worth it! Thanks to our event partners for making this happen. Quick plug time... go demo the new Giant Reign and Trance, both 29ers that rock! Also, go and buy a permit to Tygerberg mountain bike club as they offer a plethora of awesome trails. Just follow the trail rules. Also a huge thanks to MTO for making some of SA' best trails in their valley. You guys are awesome. Top Five Results MenMatt Lombardi 00:22:30.9 Theo Erlangsen 00:22:38.0 Johann Potgieter 00:22:43.0 Martin Zietsman 00:23:09.1 Sharjah Jonsson 00:23:10.8 WomenZandri Strydom 00:26:34.3 Frankie Du Toit 00:26:34.9 Beani Thies 00:28:10.7 Rika Olivier 00:28:29.2 Jessi Nixon 00:29:18.4 Full results here.
  2. Luke Moir. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie Photography Luke Moir from Cape Town is fresh off a Top 5 finish at the last round of the Western Province Enduro Series, and a second place at the EzelEnduro, however the 15-year-old national marathon champ remains on the fence about whether his fitness and skills will give him the edge over local knowledge, “I think the locals will dominate us from the Cape, but with the event taking place over two days, consistency will be key to a good finish position” Moir added, “I’m feeling relaxed because Enduro isn’t my main focus, I ride it more just for fun but I’m excited to race with mates from Durban on different trails”. Keira Duncan. Photo credit: Craig Kolesky The PYGA team are on their home-turf in Howick, with Mark Malherbe, Luke Dinkel and Keira Duncan all strav-evidently training hard. But it is Duncan who has an even closer link to the event, “I thought I couldn’t get more excited about racing on home trails, but when an opportunity to mark out and dig an event trail came up, the excitement only multiplied. I have been blessed with the opportunity to give back to the local MTB scene by dreaming up and creating new trails in my own backyard”. Duncan, who has made a full recovery from a severe arm injury at the last Enduro Champs added, “Everything on the trail is rideable, but when racing as fast as you can for the SA Enduro champion title, things are going to get rowdy”. Sam Bull. Photo credit: Retrospective Also from Pietermaritzburg, Sam Bull is the reigning SA Enduro Champ and has penned his name down to ride. Unfortunately, Bull has had ongoing knee injuries that have cost him time off the bike in 2017 and 2018. “I am just feeling stoked that I am able to take part to be honest! I had written it off with the surgery to reconstruct my ACL, and thought that for the next 18 months I wouldn't be riding a bike. So the fact that I can take part and go out and have a good time with everyone else, that is the critical thing for me, I am just so stoked to be out there riding. But I am super competitive, so I will always try to go fast, but I know that needs to be done within reason at this stage”. Tim Bentley. Photo credit: Ant Grote Photography A stealthy character that doesn’t always feel the need to enter every race, Tim Bentley will be entering the event. Probably. Maybe. “I sold my bike the other day and it doesn't look like my new bike will be here in time, not completely ideal! I am going to have to ride on a borrowed bike and I mean it's someone else's bike, so you don't want to break it. But, I am still going to go out there and just have fun. Actually, I better enter before they cap the entries!”. Bentley added, “The thing that excites me the most is getting to ride the Karkloof trails, I have heard Hylton (Turvey) has built some new stuff, which I really keen to check out. It's always such a treat to ride in Karkloof, the trails are top class. Next most exciting thing is seeing friends from all over the country and getting to spend the day on the bike with them”. We have it on good authority that Tim did, in fact, enter online late last night. Theo Erlangsen. Photo credit: Ewald Sadie Photography Theo Erlangsen, the South African National Downhill Champ, from Cape Town has also entered the race, having recently returned from a trip to ride in Europe for several months. Some may have seen a clip of Theo being interviewed by Ben Cathro of the popular Cathrovision web series, at the La Bresse DH World Cup 2018. When asked how he feels going into the event, the honest Erlangsen responded, “Absolutely terrible! I have been in Europe for three months taking ski lifts to the top of mountains, so I have absolutely no fitness. All of the pedalling uphill at the Enduro will be taken at a very, very leisurely pace. Other than that, I also butchered my shoulder, so I can't really ride to well, but ag, it'll be enough. Otherwise, it's riding bikes, can't be that hard right? Ha! I feel alright going into it”. Erlangsen added, “The week preceding the event, I am going to go and spend with Sharjah, and I am keen to go ride all the trails around Pietermaritzburg and get drunk with Sharjah. That's probably what I am most looking forward to”. Sharjah Jonsson. Photo credit: Tanja Schmitz Speaking of Sharjah Jonsson, he has the most Enduro World Series (EWS) experience in South Africa, having travelled to several countries in Europe and South America to compete in various legs of the series in 2018. “It is the end of the season, it's been quite a long season racing EWS so I am a little bit tired, but it's the last small push through. But feeling good on the bike and it should be great!”. About the event Jonsson added “It will be really cool to have the second Enduro Championships in KZN, not too far from where I grew up. It'll be great to see everyone riding together, there are only a couple of events in the year where you get to see people from around South Africa riding together, especially in the gravity scene”. What will be the key to doing well in Karkloof, and possibly taking a podium position? It seems the over-arching consensus is consistency – which may seem an obvious answer but keeping that in mind per racing stage will be a different challenge. Bentley’s advice, “You have to be fit, and keep good flow. There is nothing too tech, except for the Howick side. So keeping up speed, pedaling where you can, and keeping it fast in the corners. Conserve energy during the day, and make sure you have enough left in the tank for day two”. Jonsonn’s two cents, “Linking up sections is going to be key, so maybe not the fastest through the section, but linking the sections together the fastest. Other than knowing the tracks of course. There are some guys that definitely know the tracks a lot better because they have been practising flat out, but I guess that's up to you. It's your own choice if you feel it's necessary to pre-ride everything, you can do it here, but you can't do that overseas". Then there is Erlangsen’s slightly less strategic approach, “I don't really know what the key will be, I have never really ridden Karkloof. But I am assuming if I just rail all the stages, and don't have a mechanical or crash, that'll give me a good chance at success. Unfortunately, many of Gauteng’s top men such as Frank Meyer are not able to make the event, although Martin Zietsman has been spied on the list. Well-known riders like Dustin Rudman of the Dustin Rudman Invitational Series, and Chris Pearton who excels in the Sub-Vets category have entered, with both riders pleased about the two-day format. As Rudman states, “I'm most excited about it being a two day Enduro SA Champs incorporating some of the best trails built in SA. Also the fact that I haven't ridden the trails, so it's kind of an on the edge feel, which is why I ride”. Pearton said his motivation is pretty simple, “The amount of awesome trails we are going to be riding, two full days of the best trails SA has to offer, what’s not to like?” The resounding theme though, is the pure magic of two full days of some of the best riding in the country, with good friends that don’t get to see each other all that often. Whether the strategy is consistency or ‘go fast and take chances’, the second SA Enduro Champs is sure to be a weekend to remember. Take a look at the top women riders taking part in the SA Enduro Championships here.
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