The coolest days of winter

Knysna 80km MTB – Saturday the 2nd of July.

There was stormy weather and plenty rain on
the drive up to Knysna on Friday afternoon which continued through the night,
but as the cold front passed, it cleared up nicely for the start on Saturday
morning. With around 3 degrees Celsius, it made for a chilly few minutes waiting
on the start line. Four Savages lined up for the 80km MTB race – Donovan,
Kevin, Aaron and after a lot of skilled persuasion, we managed to get Brendon
to ditch the tar temporarily and replace it with some dirt for a change.

Leaving Knysna on a short section of the N2
before turning right onto the 3km Simola hill climb, things heated up pretty
quickly. This climb split the pack up nicely as the stronger climbers surged
ahead. A quick descent down the other side and back up a rather long climb
which tested the legs early on and those that went too hard into the pain cave
in the first 20km would pay for it later in the day.
The heavy rains from the previous day
ensured that there were lots of puddles and mud around, which made for some
tricky bunch riding and some dodgy fast cornering through the Knysna forest.  Nonetheless, this is always a beautiful area
to be cruising through on your mountain bike and with a few sections of flowing
single track thrown into the mix, the middle part of this race is always super
fun. As we joined the shorter route riders for the last few kilometers of
district road and jeep track, there was always enough space to pass by quickly
and safely, which is not always the case in some other races. Well done to the
organizers for that.
The 80km route was separated from the
shorter routes again for last piece of brush cut single track back down into
Knysna which tested the concentration levels as fatigue set in. It was a tough,
but thoroughly enjoyable route which left us very wet and dirty, but with many
fun stories to share afterwards in the Momentum VIP tent. Thanks to Momentum
for the awesome hospitality, eats and drinks.

In summary, Don and Kevin were fast out the
blocks, Don running top 10 for quite some time, but both popped fairly hard in
the second half. Aaron and Brendon rode a much more evenly paced race and
finished strongly. Brendon lost his rear brake early in the day which made things
a lot tougher for him (full time roadie/newbie mountain biker). Kudos to him
for making it through with minimal blood loss and a very decent finishing time
in his first proper MTB race.

Donovan – 3:32
Kevin – 3:34
Aaron – 3:43

Brendon – 3:54

Knysna 115km Road Race – Sunday 3rd of July

After a big day in the office in the mountain bike event the
day before the boys were greeted the next morning by the realisation that no
matter what they had on, they were under dressed. On our “warm up” before the
start the Garmin’s were reminding us that the temperature in South African can
very easily dip below zero.
The race started as it does every year as a mad rush to get
into a decent position in the bunch before the start of the climb out of
Knysna. On the climb the majority of the team stayed safe in the lead group
while some of the guys who had ridden the day before were just off the back at
the top of the climb.
Before we reached Sedgefield it was all back together as
everyone was shredding layers and making small talk about how cold it was on
the road. The ramps towards the Wilderness were dealt with ease while the tempo
increased stringing out the bunch. At the turn around point the race bunched
back together en route back to Sedgefield.
After negotiating some of the short distance riders at the
Groenvlei turn off the bunch still all together cruised to the Akerlaan climb.
This is where it started to get a little messy for some. On approaching the
500m to go until the KOM sign, hope was reignited by those hanging onto the group. Unfortunately that hope was crushed in 500m time by the fact that the KOM was 1km away
from the crest of the climb!
Donovan and Rob managed to go with the leading bunch over
the top of the climb while Kevin, Delano and Brendon came over the climb a
minute later. The out and back setup of the race allows you to see just how
large the gaps are between yourself and the leaders/chasers. 
On the final climb back to Knysna the boys at the front stayed in the
main bunch and out of trouble and rolled on to finish in the main bunch for 16th
for Donovan and 20th place for Rob. 
Some 9 minutes back after some soul searching, time trialing and time to
create some reasonable excuses for being dropped on the big climb of the day
Kevin, Delano and then Brendon came in closing out the top 45 riders for the
day. Aaron had a monster of a day on Saturday and felt it in his legs on Sunday
and came in a little while after the others.
The team had a quick debrief in the Momentum tent eating as
many egg and bacon rolls as possible. Savage had a great weekend out getting
some intensity back into our legs which will come in handy for the XC racing
and Jock Tour coming up!
A big thank you to the organisers of the event for being so professional and responding quickly to queries and always available online to assist. This was a
very well-run event that comes at a great time of the year to test how well you
have fared in the winter.
Donovan – 2:59
Rob – 2:59
Kevin – 3:09
Delano – 3:09
Brendon – 3:11
Aaron – 3:31