Durban – The RMB Change a Life MTB Academy Zulus enjoyed no fewer than seven of their riders inside the top 25 of the gruelling 100km Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill2Hill mountain bike marathon that took place from Hilton to Hillcrest on Sunday 13 September, demonstrating the Valley of a Thousand Hills setup’s wealth of talent yet again.
The event’s tough course in the closing stages made the lengthy day in the saddle even more challenging however the Change a Life Academy riders were up to the task as they mixed it up with some of the province’s top elite competitors.
“For Sthembiso Masango to finish sixth and be in amongst the pro riders at a super tough event like Hill2Hill – the Attakwas of KZN – really is quite something!” said RMB Change a Life MTB Academy founder, Martin Dreyer.
“You can wing it in a 40km or even a 60km event but over 100km, the chinks in your armour are exposed.
“It’s difficult to pull off a result over that distance as a lot can go wrong and so to have seven riders inside the top 25 is just amazing!” he added.
Masango suffered a particularly long day in the saddle when a crash, shortly after the firing of the starter’s gun, damaged the lock-out on his shock.
“Sthembiso’s crash meant his shock was fully locked out for almost the entire duration of the race,” explained Dreyer. “To race a tough race like Hill2Hill with a rigid bike shows his resilience and tenacity to never give up!”
The team used the Valley of a Thousand Hills – their own backyard and regular training ground – to prepare for the tough assignment, something Dreyer believes stood them in good stead heading into the contest.
“Long rides in the valley are by no means easy as the hills are endless. The hills either become your friend or foe however the fitness of the team is such that the hills are now their friends.
“Our next focus in the Berg & Bush stage race, where we’ll be entering four teams, and Hill2Hill is great prep for that and also shows where guys are currently at in their fitness ranking!” said Dreyer.
Masango was closely followed across the line by fellow Academy members John Ntuli (11th), Ndumiso Dontso (15th), Sipho Kupiso (20th), Bongumusa Zikhali (22nd), Scelo Mhlongo (23rd) and Mazwi Smimango (24th), while Dreyer earned back some credibility amongst his young charges with a remarkable 18th placed effort of his own.
“It was lekker for me to get a nice result because I’ve been getting whipped in the valley by these youngsters!” chuckled Dreyer.
“There is absolutely no mercy shown to the ‘old man’ during training so it was great for this ‘old man’ to earn a bit of respect back,” he laughed.
While the Academy’s mountain bikers build towards their upcoming Berg & Bush assignment, a 12-paddler strong Computershare Change a Life Academy squad sets off on Thursday morning for Upington in the Northern Cape where they will look to shine at the weekend’s Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2015 SUNDAY TRIBUNE JEEP HILL2HILL
RMB CHANGE A LIFE MTB ACADEMY
6.Sthembiso Masango 3:47.22
11.John Ntuli 3:58.21
15.Ndumiso Dontso 4:01.20
20.Sipho Kupiso 4:06.00
22.Bongumusa Zikhali 4:06.13
23.Scelo Mhlongo 4:08.29
24.Mazwi Smimango 4:09.13
34.Siyanda Masango 4:16.04