The Martin Dreyer RMB Change a Life MTB Academy pair of Sthembiso Masango and Mazwi Smimango stepped into the unknown at the recent 2016 Munga, however the pair rode beyond themselves in the face of adversity to finish first and third in the development category at the gruelling non-stop mountain bike race.
With over 1000km between the start in Bloemfontein and the finish in Wellington, riders charge on through the day and night non-stop, resting when they want to while passing through a number of compulsory checkpoints during their journey to the Western Cape.
Following in former Academy veteran John Ntuli’s footsteps, who won the overall title in 2015, the Change a Life duo’s effort saw the Valley of Thousand Hills setup’s flag continue to fly high this year.
“When they asked John for advice, he basically just told them that their backsides would get very sore!” quipped Change a Life Academy founder Martin Dreyer.
“It was an incredible effort from the guys and awesome for them to be rewarded with a podium finish.
“The race is more like an adventure challenge than a mountain biking race, with the guys using the 36ONE MTB Challenge earlier in the year to give them some sort of an idea on how to go about it.”
The race’s non-stop, rest when you want approach made it difficult for the Change a Life pair to pace their race and Masango went out the hardest, finding himself in the lead at night fall on the first day.
However a mechanical, that would plague him throughout the race, meant that he hit a rough patch mentally at that point.
“Sthembiso was flying and at about 180km into the race his back wheel buckled. This meant that he had to limp his way into the first race village in Britstown.
“Losing three hours on the leaders, he was ready to call it a day. We chatted, where I told him everyone goes through tough times in a big race like this and it’s how you deal with it that counts. You cannot give up. Adversity is the breakfast of Champions!”
“After a good rest, a switch flicked in his head and he was off, riding like there was no tomorrow, making his way up the rankings!
“He had another issue with his back tyre coming into the fourth race village in Sutherland around the 700km mark, fortunately here they managed to fix it properly.
“From there he didn’t look back and powered to fifth over the line but was given a thirty minute penalty for not signing in at the race village in Loxton, but that luckily didn’t change the results,” Dreyer added.
This meant that Masango would take the development prize with team mate Smimango taking third place in that same category.
“Mazwi went through similar mental challenges as Sthembiso; he wanted to call it quits too when he wasn’t feeling great with diarrhoea issues at the second race village. I told him to take as much time as he needed to recover.
“After sleeping for six hours he was back on his bike and powered home to
third in his division,” a proud Dreyer added.
With incredibly adverse conditions to deal with as well as the unknown physical fatigue, Dreyer praised the mental strength of the pair to not only get through the race but feature so prominently as well.
“The guys showed phenomenal tenacity in the face of hardship to get through such a difficult race where riders battled with tough head winds, extreme heat as well as nose bleeds.
“We need to do a post-race analysis and look at where mistakes were made and what we can improve upon. But right now, the RMB CAL Zulus are resting with their feet up and the biggest grins of satisfaction on their faces, knowing the hardest race of their lives is thankfully over, until next year that is,” Dreyer added.
Source: Gameplan Media