Total Distance: 124.km, 4hr46:00min,
I partnered up with Tyron Bird over the weekend to tackle the first ever Dusi2C in the valley of 1000hills ultimately climbing onto the podium in the colours of TIB Insurance.
From the start the event was truly an amazing experience as we crossed over the Commercial road rapid on a purpose build scaffolding boardwalk made possible by guys from Peri. This was just a start of the things to come further down the valley as we followed the famous Msunduzi River from the Natal Canoe club down to the river mouth at blue lagoon. The trip has been done in boats for a good couple of decades and the mountain bikers have decided to jump onto the boat or should say onto their bikes and ride the exact same route to the sea.
The Valley of 1000hills is one of the most amazing places to ride in my opinion. The trails are very similar to those found in the wild coast where you have the choice of 3 or 4 lines as the trail flows between the cattle grazing areas and houses and then back to the main roads. This is truly a recipe for some great mountain biking along naturally flowing track with the odd rock thrown in to keep you on your toes. As in the Transkei the Duzi river dominates and dictates the local way of life for many who live on the banks, the paths mostly run parallel to the river which can make a trail run on and on for ages before there is a sharp climb up to someone’s house or the local Spaza shop. This is where the art of building trail becomes a masterpiece especially when the artist or in this case trail builder has an eye for the ultimate trail. This is where the great trails are separated from the average and this is where a floating plastic bridge can make all the difference. When Farmer Glen first introduced the floating bridge to mountain biking the idea wasn’t even part of trail builder arsenal but now the concept is allowing mountain bikes to go places generally unobtainable and unreachable a few years ago. So in the case of making a route flow, these floating bridges were the answer at the Dusi2c.
The route was pitched at being 65km on day 1 then 60km on day 2 and used for the first time during a major race GPS navigation to guide riders from the start to the finish. Each rider was required to down load the official route onto the GPS and then use the GPS track function to navigate. We used 2 GPS’s as part of our tactic, one on either bike, set to two different zoom resolutions. Our choice of 50 meters and 120 meters respectively, proved to be the best combination on the day as one rider could warn the other of a route change well in advance and the other with the 50m could pic up which of the 4 cattle foot paths the route was referring too. This type of navigation added another dynamic to the racing and proved to help but also hinder some of the teams.
The first day was where Tyron and I made our tactical racing move and pushed hard to get away from the chasing teams so that none of the other teams could catch a free ride with our navigation. The plan worked well and we finished the day 14minutes ahead of the 2nd place. This allowed us to have a more relaxed 2nd day especially with the route being particularly short of hills and flat. We knew we could only put a couple of minutes into the next team and would have to reply on navigation and luck to get to the line with a healthy lead. This plan worked and we even had spare time to fix my back tire puncture 8km form the finish line. We bombed the tire and it sealed well costing us a minute or so before we were on our way again.
Even for a race in its 1st year the Dusi2c had all the trimmings of a well run event with years of experience. The outstanding organisation right from the hot showers at the race village to the riverside tented accommodation was a hit amongst all the riders. This is definitely a race to watch in the future and I believe will become more popular than the older bother Sani2c.
1st Team TIB – Andrew Hill & Tyron Bird
2nd Team Coffeeberry/Momsen – Mark Malherbe & Trevor Rowe
3rd Team PeptoPro Racing’s – Jarrad van Zuydam & Stu Rawlinson