KZN Provincial Series #2: Giba Gorge

Report compiled by Gavin Ryan of KZN MTB and Quickpix.

The 2nd KZN MTB XCO/Enduro/DHI took place over the weekend of 15th and 16th of February 2014, at Giba Gorge MTB Park. Staying with the principle of giving riders the opportunity and exposure to other routes within KZN, Giba Gorge was identified as a fantastic venue. Giba Gorge MTB Park is situated close to Pinetown and has earned an envious reputation of having challenging yet fun trails. Nick Floros (XCO), Mark Sydney (Enduro) and Nigle Hicks (DHI) spent a couple of days setting out some awesome routes using both existing trials and cutting/clearing some new ones. To give you an idea of the standard, a lot of these trails were used in the 2012 run-up to the UCI World Cup Series and were awarded UCI Cat 2 status.

Giba Gorge

XCO

Race day dawned… hot and humid! Tactics for the day would include hydrating well before and during the race, as well as attacking when the opportunity presented. The majority of the route was singletrack and with over 180m of climbing in the 5.5km route it would be very difficult to make up for any mistakes.

The junior riders (Nippers/Sprogs) were to ride a reduced distance of 3.3km, missing out 2 of the big climbs, but this in no way meant their route was easy. They had over 100m of climbing to do, as well the same technical singletrack that the older riders had to endure.

The racing amongst all categories was intense… after all, this is a Provincial Series! Shouts of encouragement from supporters were mixed in with the breathless gasps from riders as they gave the race their best efforts. The conditions meant that there wasn’t a single rider with a dry shirt at the end of their event and that cold water was in great demand! Many of the younger riders, as well as several of the juniors, are showing huge potential in XCO.

Once the younger riders were finished their race, the juniors, under 23, elites, sub-vets, vets and masters all had their turn to race. The pace was hard and it was really exciting to see the riders fly around the course. It’s quite inspiring to see the fast lap times that these competitive riders set and somehow they seem to get faster with each lap! Amongst the Elite riders, Team Kargo Pro MTB was dominant, featuring top riders Rourke Crouser, Travis Walker and Stuart Marias, but Team ASG MTB, with young Alan Hatherly, was right on their heels and was never far off the pace. Team BMC/Velo-Life dominated the Ladies with several podium positions.

Downhill

A glorious, hot and humid afternoon saw the Provincial Downhill event take place at Giba Gorge with riders enjoying a dramatic 200m drop off the mountain in about in about 1 km, resulting in some hair-raising racing. Gravity was the order of the day with not much pedalling until the last 100m where they dropped onto the jeep track, taking care not to overrun into the electric fence and then were on the gas for the finish line.

Several provincial and local riders, as well as some who made the trek from Gauteng for the event, made for some exciting racing with final overall honours going to local boy, Tim Bentley. The course provided some challenges due to the dry and dusty conditions with a number of washouts providing testimony to this. With all the racing taking place at Cascades in 2013, it became imperative this year that the KZN DHI provincials take place at different locations to provide variety for the riders. The other factor in location choice is that the XCO, Enduro and DHI must all be held at the same venue to share as many costs as possible. This has been achieved with both Hill ‘n Dale and Giba and the next event at Cascades will also see all three events on one weekend.

The Cascades leg of the KZN Series takes place on the 1st and 2nd of March 2014 and there’s sure to be great racing taking place, so get down there to lend the riders your support.

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