What a weekend. I decided to wait a couple days before writing this post to allow the vague memories to slowly filter back. I will try piece them together to hopefully give you an idea of went down. To put things into perspective, whilst driving from King Shaka airport to Winterton I received a shopping list from mates who had already arrived. There was no food, soft drinks or bike parts, only Cane and Brandy. Good start.
We arrived in Winterton after a beautiful 3 hr drive through KZN countryside to feel slightly left out for not having a beer in our hands. First stop bar, second stop registration, third stop tents. Feeling settled, we headed through to the main tent where the festivities were about to begin. The first round of activities to decide the 2013 host nation were hilarious and kept us all highly entertained, with Italy, Netherlands, USA and Zimbabwe being the main players. After far too many drinks (and daisy juice) I made my way to my tent which had been completely flattened by some lovely tent diving mates. I tried to fix it, but in my state i decided it was just easier to pass out. A while later, my tent was dived on again, this time with me in it, not ideal. It had also started raining by now, and my ailing tent provided no protection from the downpour. All my stuff was drenched, bleak.
Friday saw some big storms roll through Winterton forcing the organisers to close the route for practice. We did however managed a little spin through town to loosed the legs before another Big Party. The Red Bull crew arrived with their gig rig and after more host nation selection shenanigans, they busted out some great tunes early into Saturday morning.
Race day dawned with great weather and my tent was in one piece. I had a good feeling about the day ahead. The race village was a sight, with all the riders donning their crazy outfits. I was really impressed with the effort that everyone went through.
A 11am start meant that there was plenty of time to get rid of the hangover and get to the start 25km away at the beautify Emseni camp. The start procedure was mad, we had to run to our bikes, try find them because they had all been moved around, before getting ushered into a holding area where we rode loops around a field until a gate randomly opened to start the race. I got a good start, but the taste of cane and creamsoda was ever present, and then my chain came off, and then again, race over. I cruised along having a blast at the three beer stops along the way, having two beers instead of one. I needed to keep things fair for the riders around me, my down down skills are top notch.
There was some super tight racing upfront with South Africa’s Burry Stander winning by a ball hair from an American racing snake, his name eludes me. It was a South African clean sweep with Amy Mac winning the ladies race, coming home in the top 15 overall. Both proudly claimed their winning tattoo’s.
The route was sublime with sweeping singletrack covering 85% of the two loops. I had an idea of the trails after riding Joberg2C earlier this year but it blew my mind again. It really was some of the best riding I have done.
The afterparty is still too blurry to report on, it was massive, really good fun and something I cannot put my body through again for a while. Oh, and Italy won the rights to host next year by winning a tug-o-rope, awesome.
Big up to the organisers, what a weekend. Looking forward to Italy..
PLEASE FORGIVE ME IF NOTHING MAKES SENSE, I AM STILL REELING.
Here are some tattoo shots:
Some random cool shots:
Images Courtesy Dale Hunt and James Walsh