Anybody who knows the Garden Route, will know that the riding in this area is not really for Sissies. If you start at Knysna, you start at the coast, and the only way to go is up (if you can’t walk on water, that is).
The full complement of hundred riders – each and everyone fully catered for in up-market guest houses, hotels or B&Bs – mostly knew what lay ahead, and there was a sense of trepidation amongst the Stage Race newbies at the 5AM call at the Knysna Waterfront. Flat went to steep immediately after the neutral zone along the Main Street as the riders bombed past Simola and into the forest, cranking hard as the sun started rising over the Outeniqua Peaks in the east.
Gouna Pass was the first real test, with Kom-se-Pad dealing out a few more low blows in the granny-gear department. The riders hung tough though, looping onto the 7 Passes road and then up through Beervlei and Bergplaas Plantations. Superb forest riding added an edge to the high-speed gravel chase, spreading the field as they blasted amidst the fragrant pines.
The Belgian Team #25 of Niek Lingrie and Bjorn Rondelez took the First Stage in a time of 5:20:40, with Team #27 (Rory Attridge and Martin Lambrecht) well off the pace in 5:48:45. The All-Girls Team of Bonny Swanepoel and Rene Schoeman took the Mixed Category in 6:07:40, with Corne Barnard top of the Solo heap in 6:18:13.
As far as inaugural races go, Transcape MTB can not be faulted so far, with everything running beyond smooth. Organiser Lenore Collett believes in her RED BOOK POLICY, with a journal and pen available to any rider or staff member in the JOC, specifically for any suggestions or complaints … now that is how an event should unfold!
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