Team Valencia dominate at Forest 2 Falls
The 11th edition of the popular local MTB race, Forest2Falls was held at an all new venue in Graskop. Max Knox bravely took on the challenge of organising his first event.
The route provided riders with spectacular views over God’s window and the mountains, valleys, waterfalls and lush forests of Graskop and Sabie. Riders however had to earn their view with 65 km of mainly district roads and 1300m of climbing. Our team Valencia out performed the rest as they achieved podiums across age categories and race distances.
In the 65km, Hein Engelbregt showed his consistently growing calibre as an elite racer when he came 2nd in a time of 02:29:24, 3 minutes behind winner Ben Melt Swannepoel. “The start was fast and flat. We were a bunch until about 20km in. Ben Melt made the pace hard up the first big climb and we managed to break away. I knew the route quite well and was saving a lot for the last 30km. Up the final climb, Ben made life hard again. I tried to hang on as long as I could but he managed to get a gap on me and maintained it until the finish.”
Amy McDougall won the ladies’ race and came 7th overall in a time of 02:48:11. “I was happy to take the win in Valencia’s colours! I was pleasantly surprised with my result my legs did not feel great after the Joberg2C legs and the course was not really suited to me. The views were mind-blowing and made me nostalgic about living in the Lowveld!” Yolandi Du Toit crossed the line in second and our Emily Clarke in 3rd.
The 35 km was a nail biter with only 12 seconds separating the top 4, amongst the sprint finishers was Armand Lomard who narrowly missed bronze as he crossed the line in 4th and 3rd in his age category, still a stellar performance for this youngster. “It was an extremely fun race, I enjoyed it so much that when I saw it was almost the end of the race it surprised me because I thought there was at least 10km left! The view from God’s window almost made me stop to take a picture, the race was nicely marked and I’ll definitely do it again!”
In the ladies’ race, 15 year old Zandri Strydom took the overall and youth category honours in a time of 1:29:51 “The last 15 km was the best because of the climbs and the views. I enjoyed it a lot, it just needed more single track. I was happy to win the overall ladies race!” Teammate Monique Swart 6th lady and 2nd in the youth category. “It was a fun race but my legs weren’t there so I just tried to push my hardest to the end.”
There was a strong contingent of up and coming youngsters in the 15km with podiums in almost all age categories.
It is great to see such a diverse range of riders achieving goals and performing to the best of their ability under the wing of Valencia Cycles.
Next up team members will be conquering the National XCO in PE and Sani2C begins tomorrow for Sam Sanders!
Inaugural race of Local Lowveld Mopani Series, Sani2C, and XCO Success all round.
Last weekend the local Mopani Series based in White River kicked off with a bang. With a network of newly built trails in White River, riders were treated to miles of quality single track. The smiles on the faces crossing the finish line were testament to the success of the event!
In the 50km, which consisted of 2 laps of the 25km loop, Emily Clarke cleaned up the ladies race in a time of just 2:05:45 and bruised a few male egos coming 16th overall. “Being a past pupi of Uplands made this race particularly special for me. It was the ground and trails on which my passion for the sport was ignited. I am delighted that so many more MTBers are able to share my enjoyment through the series! Massive thanks to Francois Lourens and sunshine events for the incredible trails and fast flowing single track. I think my high might last me until the next race of the series! As always thanks to V-Bike for continuously according me the opportunities to race bikes and feed my soul.”
Armand Lombard blitzed the 25km, winning in a time of 56:28 one minute ahead of his nearest rival, Ryan Terry. “It was a well-planned event with a lot of single track and a few technical sections that made it extremely fun! The prizes were also great.”
Despite getting terribly lost due to some tape being removed by some local forest workers, Monique Swart managed to fight her way into second lady overall and 1st in her age category. Swart enjoyed the trails and is looking forward to round #2.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Samantha Sanders was competing in the Sani2C with partner Theresa Ralph. The course was more compact than ever due to some rain earlier on in the week and +- 3000 riders having ridden the course in in the adventure and trail races. The conditions made for extremely fast times and tight racing. The pair rode consistently, coming in 3rd each day and 3rd overall after the 3 days. “The competition was strong and the course was amazing! I tried my best to win. Thanks endlessly to Valencia for their support and commitment.” – Samantha Sanders
On another far reach of the country, the 4th leg of the national XCO series was being held in PE. In Valencia colours we had Amy Beth McDougall competing in the Elite Ladies category and Zandri Strydom in the Youth ladies’ category.
The challenging 4.2km course started with a gnarly loose descent which claimed its share of victims in the preliminary practice days. It was soon established that slower is better in this case! Riders were then faced with a steep loose rocky climb which put technical climbing skills to test. Some fun fast and flowing sections led into a dubious stair drop, then a long drag followed by a muddy section which slippery roots caused many a foot-dab or get-off-and-run. A short rock garden was the only respite in the final climb which was also loose and required focus.
The Elite ladies had 5 laps plus a 1.5km start loop. Amy McDougall sat consistently in 3rd for most of the race. Mariska Strauss took top honours with Cherie Redecker in 2nd. “I knew I still had Joberg2C lingering in my legs so I had no high expectations except to get my best result, sharpen up the skills and get some intensity training in! I loved the challenging course and despite tired legs and a too-heavy gear, it wasn’t a bad performance. I was happy to represent Valencia in XCO again and in a completely new part of the country!”
Zandri Strydom continued her winning streak, completing her 2 lap race 4 minutes ahead of her competition! “It was fun! I really enjoyed the technical stuff. I think this is one of the best XCO routes in South Africa and one of my favourites.”
Once again we are super proud of our riders for continuously flying the V-Team flag high.
Two days of amazing Mpumulanga riding.
Day 1. The group will meet up & pull away from Mankele at 7:30. We will head off to one of the most beautiful waterfalls. We will have lunch at the waterfall. After our lunch break, we will climb up to Misty Mountain lodge. (Dinner, bed & breakfast).
Day 2. After breakfast we will take on our journey back home. The hard work was all done on day 1, so plenty of fun sections all the way back to Mankele. We will have a half way stop for Lunch and drinks. We should be back at Mankele by 14:00. This will give you time to travel back home.
This is a tour, so we will be riding untamed trails. Plenty Jeep track, cattle trails & what ever we find on the way!!
Drinks at Misty Mountain is for your account + bring sum CASH if you want to bribe the driver for a lift!
No need for a Shuttle: Your vehicle stays at Mankele. A vehicle will follow the group. The vehicle will carry all the riders luggage, cold drinks, meals and basic spares.
Accommodation & meals are included from the time we start riding. You are welcome to book accommodation at Mankele for the night before & after the tour.