We are on our way to the 2 day Hansa Fish Canoe Marathon, in a full mini bus with the Stellenbosch University canoeists and finally I have found some time to write about this past weekend’s racing in Nelspruit area, the Isuzu 3 Towers stage race. The amount of gees in the canoeing circle is unreal… here are some shaved heads and scary looking beards the boys worked on last night. Would any cyclists dare to have this much gees for a stage race?
The Isuzu 3 Towers came close to that, the organisers were absolute treats on the stage every evening making the entire tent roar with laughter, this was a weekend full of good racing, great trails and warm company.
I flew up from Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon in time for Velo Life’s new shop opening in Pretoria. The evening was awesome catching up with team mates and friends over delicious treats and red wine.
Yes we wore dresses! Even if some were bare foot we were dressed for the occasion
On Thursday morning we left for Nelspruit in the Velo Life bus making our way into the heart of Mpumalanga. The venue was Mankele mountain bike park, which was established in 2007 in the foot hills of the escarpment by the 3 Towers organisers themselves (Geoff and Mark Mayer plus their mate Greg Anderson.) It is fast becoming one of South Africa’s favourite place to Mountain bike. Mankele also hosts an SA cup cross country race each year.
The 3 Towers is a 3 day stage race which you can do in teams of 2 or solo. It consists of three different events: “The Race” that was for all the racing snakes and big dogs. “The Challenge” was shorter than the race. It was for all those who wanted to have a joll all day and not have to crawl over the line in exhaustion after each day’s stage. And then there was the “Mncane” which was the smallest of the three. It was for those who enjoy the trails and want to be a part of the whole experience. Let’s say husbands were doing the Race so the wives and children could also come along and ride the Mncane or Challenge and experience the event. It truly was special seeing whole families enjoying the weekend on their bikes.
My partner was Frankie du Toit and being juniors we could only race the Challenge. Because of the shorter distances juniors were allowed to race (Bonus!). We honestly had the greatest time. The terrain each day was extremely hilly. You go off the start line each day and you literally climb climb climb climb climb and when you think it’s over you climb some more. This is what the organisers told us each evening about the following day’s stage. They almost made people dread it. But they were just psyching us out. It was super great yes there were a lot of climbs but the type of climbs that you feel satisfied afterwards you reach a tower everyday and then you know “we’ve climbed for +- 30 kms, it’s all downhill from here!” flip I can’t explain to you how awesome the trails were, just fast flowing GOOD stuff. You need to experience it before I try to explain it. Here are the race profiles of the Challenge.
Each day was very different even though the longest day was something like 46km’s… I know what you thinking, “Ha, piece of cake.” But it was tuff, your average speed is a lot faster than racing say a 72km. There is no time to relax. Frankie and I somehow got caught up in the whole overall rankings and ended up not only racing just for the top step in the woman’s category but against the boys as well. And may I just add some men are super sexiest! I mean seriously if a girl comes riding past they jump onto that wheel faster than you can say “jackass” some screw seems to loosen in their head and they hold on for dear life leaving their partners in their fumes. It’s honestly my favourite kind of racing because men take no prisoners. Beating them is an added treat and being beaten by them you can always say “I’m just a girl stop being so competitive;)”
Overall we had an absolute blast. Thanks to the organizers, caterers, cleaning staff, bike mechanics… the list goes on and on, so thanks for a world class event. A special well done must go to my team mates Amy Willams and Johann Wykerd who won the mixed category in the Challenge, Candice Neethling who won the overall woman in the Race with her partner Cherise Stander. Frances and I were able to take the overall win for the woman in the Challenge. Whoohaa!
Other than that I’ll be cooling off @ the Fish River Canoe Marathon this weekend. No doubt there will be some men on my wave! Good luck and remember I’m a girl!
Until next time, keep peddling & paddling & don’t forget to work on your Gees