Mountain bikers are undoubtedly the most unselfish sportspeople.
In other words, mountain bikers are truly passionate about everything they do. For them it is not necessarily merely about setting fast times and surviving nature’s obstacles. They also really care.
During the Nissan Diamond Rush event that took place in and around Cullinan on Saturday, 24 July, Elsa Karsten demonstrated the truth of this when she took time off during her 70km race to rescue a small puppy.
She said that she saw, after about 30 kilometers of racing, a few kids in the veld who were laughing excitedly while they were throwing about what at first looked to her like a small black object. When she came closer to them, she realized to her horror that they were not playing with a ball. It was a puppy that was being thrown around.
Without giving it another thought, Karsten got off her bike, picked up the little puppy, stuffed it into the front of her cycling shirt and started riding again.
Seconds after finishing, her face lit up in a broad smile when she opened her shirt and, to the astonishment of the onlookers, took out the puppy. Everyone immediately wanted to know what happened.
She had to repeat the story of how she rescued the puppy many times over, each time ending with the words: ‘It was the right thing to do’.
For the puppy, this story has a happy ending. Karsten is adamant to keep it and she has even decided on a name for it. She will call it Moses.
Apart from the dog rescuing exercise it is evident that, as has become the norm, most of the mountain bikers who competed in the three different races of the Nissan event, thoroughly enjoyed the race. Just about every rider who finished was excited about the enjoyable single track sections, the wooden bridges and the water crossings, as well as the beautiful areas through which they had raced.
According to Justin Arnoldi, the organizers just continue to surprise him.
“I really don’t know how they manage to keep on finding these amazing mountain biking trails in Gauteng.”
Anne Smith said that on a part of the route through which they had to race, there were unbelievable rock formations.
“For me it was like riding into a fantasy world.”
Even though Hendrik Storm from Thabazimbi finished the race with blood on his chin, he was all smiles when he crossed the finishing line.
“This is certainly one of the best races that I have ever competed in. I will definitely be back next year.”
When asked about the blood on his chin, Storm explained that, at the waterfall, he had the unfortunate privilege of a face to face meeting with a rock which refused to budge. The result was that he flew over his handlebars and hit the dirt face first.
“It was my own stupid mistake.”
When Neville Ackermann, winner of the masters category, was asked about his wildlife experiences during the race he said with a wry smile: “The only animals I saw from really close up were some red ants. That was after I took a tumble.”
Mike Rethman, who competed in the 40km race, said he had a run in with a herd of blesbok while riding through one of the game reserves.
According to him, the blesbok impulsively decided to stampede across the track right in front of him.
“I thought for a moment that I was going to be taken out by a blesbok. But being so close to the animals was an exciting experience.”
‘Fun’ was certainly not the word the riders who competed in the 40km race chose to describe their ascent to the top of the mine dump. For many a rider this was a quite undoable challenge which led to some inward cursing directed to the organizers.
Dieter Peters reckoned that if it were to be a cement track or hard dirt road he might have had a chance to ride all the way to the top.
Piet Semothoma proved to be one of the really tough guys. “I managed to ride to the top of the mine dump. It was a piece of cake.”