Howick – The 2014 edition of the popular Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival got underway amidst an atmosphere of excitement and nerves as the small, courageous field took on the unique challenge of the weekend’s opener – the Peri Night Race – with Frederick Rossouw and Kim Westbrook clinching the first titles of this year’s showdown.
Coffeeberry VELOlife’s Rossouw flew out the blocks and launched a decisive early attack on the rest of his competitors and, once out in front on his own, never looked back until he crossed the line in 1:06.53.
“I’m ecstatic to have won this evening,” exclaimed a satisfied Rossouw. “Last year we had so much rain up here at Karkloof but this year, with a beautiful full moon and a lovely course, we couldn’t have asked for better conditions and made for a great night’s racing!
“The start was very fast and I made my move on the first climb and then looked to set a good steady pace from there,” he added.
An experienced campaigner having been competing on the KZN circuit for some time now, Rossouw was still pleased with the result, especially given the unique challenge racing in the dark presents.
“Riding at night is a completely different type of riding, you get tunnel vision and light is obviously a hugely important part of night racing.”
“I started tonight’s race with two lights but one bombed out midway through the first lap so then I had to work pretty hard to make sure I didn’t hit any rocks along the way.
“There is a fantastic vibe riding at night though, you feel like you’re in your own little world and I thoroughly enjoyed tonight’s race!
Rossouw won’t be taking on Saturday’s STIHL Karkloof Enduro but will return to the three day affair on Sunday for the 60km Sappi Karkloof Marathon, the feature race of the festival and is expecting a tough yet equally enjoyable a day in the saddle and Mother’s Day celebration.
“I rode the course on Wednesday and I’m pretty certain it’s going to be quite an eventful race on Sunday!” chuckled Rossouw. “There is some fantastic single track combined with some heavy climbing in the 60 kilometer race.
“You can’t beat the vibe here at Karkloof,” oozed Rossouw. “It’s one of the best events on the calendar in my view! The riding is second to none and the organization is just superb!”
Rossouw finished ahead of David Wright and David Basner respective while Westbrook enjoyed a comfortable victory in the women’s section with Zurika Wright and Reneé Mitchell rounding out the podium. Axel Collyer was the first junior across the line.
“It was lots of fun out there tonight!” bubbled the vibrant Time Freight VELOlife rider afterwards. “I only had light for the first five kilometers and then my light decided to die so a really big thanks to all the guys who helped pull me through!
The course was different to last year but was fantastic fun, as always here at Karkloof!” she added.
Saturday’s STIHL Karkloof Enduro consists of riders tackling a 30km course in which three down hill sections are timed, leaving participants to leisure summit the climbs and then race both their fellow riders as well as the clock of the thrilling descents.
Sunday 11 May promises to deliver a day of great action as the likes of Brendon Davids (Trek SA), Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker (both Kargo Pro MTB), Andrew Hill (TIB Insurance) and the Cannondale Blend trio of Waylon Woolcock, Darren Lill and Charles Keey go head to head in the men’s clash of the 60km Sappi Marathon while the women’s title battle is likely to be a three way tussle between Time Freight VELOlife’s Candice Neethling and Bianca Haw as well as 2013 race winner Jeannie Dreyer (USN/Hi-TEC).
Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More info can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – SAPPI KARKLOOF CLASSIC MTB FESTIVAL
PERI NIGHT RACE
1.Frederick Rossouw 1:06.53
2.David Wright 1:09.37
3.David Basner 1:09.52
4.Piere Stephens 1:11.27
5.Klaas Meintjes 1:11.48
1.Kim Westbrook 1:19.06
2.Zurika Wright 1:27.43
3.Reneé Mitchell 1:28.14
1.Axel Collyer 1:12.34
2.Liam O’Connell 1:26.08
3.Liam Theunissen 1:27.20
Source: Gameplan Media