Another fantastic day of riding in glorious weather through KZN. Today covered the familiar Sani2C day 1 route which included some incredible single track which was very welcomed by the riders. We woke up to a very chilly Hazeldean Farm, with a general sense of calm filtering through the race village due to the ‘short’ day ahead of us. Farmer Glenn even referred to today as a rest day! The area around Hazeldean Farm is renowned for breeding some thoroughbred polo horse’s which we were lucky enough to see in the flesh as four polo horses were our lead out ‘vehicle’ for the first 2km.
The pace was super fast over the first 22km of farm roads and the field spread out quickly. The first single track called ‘Oak Dual Track’ came at 22km, and man was it a breath of fresh air. There are two defined lines but also one one the far right for part of the way which is super fast. But, half way down there are two tree trunk covering the trail and I witnessed one of the development riders hit it at full pace, flying over the bars into a pile of dust. Stick to either the left or right option!
After this dual single track there are some more district roads and the climb called ‘View Climb’ which takes you up to the highest point of the next 3 days and the last time we will see the Southern Drakensberg. Some more single track through The Ferns lead us down to the now famous 200m curved floating bridge built by Farmer Glenn, always a highlight of the day. It cools you down nicely.
After the first water point we tackled the Big Pines climb, went down and up the other side of Chestnut Valley then into the beautiful Nxumene Forest, home of the Cape Parrot. This lead us to water point 2. After stocking up on potatoes, eggs and a bar one we made our way up Bowman’s Hill and on to Wappo’s sublime single track. I have to admit, these sections of single track are so manicured you cannot not go fast! From here it was a torturous couple kilometers on district road with some beast climbs up to Mackenzie Country Club. Another fantastic race village with superb catering! In the end my time was 3hr 18min, 3rd solo rider home, 26th overall for the stage and 27th place in GC.
At the front end of the race there was another sprint finish with David George and Kevin Evans from Team 360Life coming home in first place (2hr 54 min) ahead of Waylon Woolcock and Neil McDonald of Team RE-CM. In third was the ever consistent and talented Team Itec Vodacom of Dave Morrison and Louis Bressler Knipe. There are no times and positions available yet but i will update later.
Day 8 brings about the might Umkomaas decent, something words cannot describe. I am so excited for this 96.7km trek to Jolivet, with 1212m of climbing and 1745m descent. Giddy Up, almost there.
Click to enlarge