CERES MOUNTAIN BIKE WEEKEND
LIFE CYCLE, PEDAL POWER ASSOCIATION MAGAZINE
WOW! WHAT A WEEKEND. IT STARTED OFF ON FRIDAY AFTERNOON WITH A LARGE NUMBER OF CAMPERS ARRIVING IN CERES IN ANTICIPATION OF A GREAT WEEKEND - THEY WERE NOT TO BE DISAPPOINTED.
The events kicked off with an excellent night race. The racers were kitted out in anything from dual halogen spotlights running off 12V batteries, to penlights strapped to helmets, miner-style. The course followed the lower part of the permanent route up the single track "Swaarmoed" climb to an exciting forest single track section for some fun night riding.
For the rest of the evening, competitors had the option to mellow out next to a crackling campfire at the campsite and enjoy the crisp Ceres night sky, or for the young at heart, a ride over to Deon's house to join the lively Red Bull House Party.
Saturday dawned with awesome weather for the Alexander Forbes 15km, 30km and 48km enduro races. About 600 participants had entered, including well known names like Geddin Ruddock, Jacques Rossouw, Linus van Onselen, Brain Strauss, Fredd Coleske, Fourie Kotze, Frohan Visser, Arie Olivier, Frans du Preez, Phelia van Breda and Hanlie Booyens.
At 9.30 the 48km and 30km races got off to a flying start, with the 20km starting shortly thereafter. This incredible, mostly single-track, route starts out on some jeep track going out on a brief loop to the left of the farm yard start/finish area, to spread out the contestants before they come back past the start-finish. From there they hit the forest single-track section leading on the first climb.
The pace up the first climb was hard, fragmenting the leading group before it reached the Ceres spring water/fast fuel water point. There, after a short descent, they hit the second climb, which started out on jeep track and turned into nice technical single track, flowing into an awesome single track downhill through "Death Drop" and "Phillip's Creek".
Then began the killer single-track climb up "Swaarmoed", with a very welcome Red Bull refreshment stop under a huge tent halfway up the climb. Here the 30km route turned off while the 48km carried on climbing through a section called (very aptly) "Dead man walking", with a spectacular view of the valley below.
This was followed by another radical single-track downhill section to reward the effort. From here the course meandered down past the rustic reed huts and lapa in the pine forest (where you can camp nest to a beautiful dam and waterfall). The race finished off with another run through the forest single-track section and from there through the orchards to the finish.
Jacques Rossouw clinched first place ahead of Bryan Strauss, Geddin Ruddock and Barry Pauw. Phelia van Breda took the women's race from Hanlie Booyens and Michele Raymond.
Prizes included R1 000 cash to the winners as well as some lucky draws. Total prizes for the lucky draws included a mountain bike sponsored by Kohler, altogether worth about R15 000.
Sunday dawned another glorious day, although some battled to rise from their beds because of their antics the previous night. The weather was great and made for some very good downhill racing. The course started out through a steep, rocky section with sharp switch backs, running into a fast pedaling section with a couple of nice rocky drop offs, ending with a drop into a rock garden just before the finish. Overall, Andrew Neethling took first form Mark Hopkins, Reghardt Verburg and Chris Nixon.
A number of people still had enough energy to take part in the organized fun ride on Sunday, with some people coming through from Cape Town just for the day. It turned out to be a really enjoyable ride.