The final round of the 2019 Greg Minnaar Cycles Gravity Series, operated by KZN Gravity MTB was held over the weekend of the 22nd and 23rd of June in the picturesque Cathkin Valley in the shadows of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. SATURDAY - ENDURO
The Enduro event was held on Saturday with the Cathkin Trails team putting together 4 challenging stages in the SAPPI foresty on the southern side of the valley. Dry and dusty was the name of the game with loose and rough tracks lying in wait at this brand new venue. A remote start area at Ardmore Guest Farm meant the riders had a short but testing liaison up to the stages with Stage 1 and 2 able to be run in any order. Both these stages ran through grassy upper hillslopes linking cattle paths with rough raw rocky off-camber sections. The top of the stages was all about holding speed with riders topping 50km/h in some sections. The lower sections of both stages slowed dramatically with tight trails in the forestry plantations proving a test to keep flow.
Stage 3 was short and rough with tons of blind corners in the new foresty blocks. Stage 4 was the signature trail of the weekend, being the longest and most variable in terms of trail features. Open grass turns gave way to steep off-camber forestry tracks. The middle of the stage was rocky ledges and steps dropping the riders down into the lower tree section. A sneaky climb finally pitched the riders into the lower rock garden to the finish of an amazing first event for Cathkin Trails. A huge thanks goes out to the trail crew who worked so hard building these brand new trails for the event.
The Cathkin trails team put together some of the best Enduro stages ever in the series.
A frosty morning greeted the riders for registration at Drakensberg Brewery
A remote start area saw the riders hustling to beat the traffic and dust out to the stages.
When the riders returned to Drakensberg Brewery for prizegiving and the times were tallied, it was Liam Du Plessis who took his first ever win in the series with a time of 14:12, pipping Hylton Frost by 19seconds, with SubVet mens winner Adrian Bam in third overall for the day.
In the ladies, a tight fight ensued between Junior star, Beanie Thies and the desert fox, Namibian rider Stefanie Grossmann (Elite). Both riders were giving everything, and with a tied time in Stage 3, it could not be any closer. At the end of racing however, it was Thies who had put in the extra effort taking the overall ladies podium by 24 seconds, with Julia Kotze in 3rd, a further 30 seconds adrift.
Rock, rock and more rock, the natural trails were a treat for the riders
A short hike-a-bike made quick work of the Liaisons
The rock roll at the start of Stage 2 made for great spectating with an amazing backdrop
It pays to be a local - Hylton Frost with an inside huck line into the rock roll
Flat out through the grass turns
Final checks were always a necessity before taking on the rough stages
The guys from Pyga came to the party on Saturday evening, hosting a Happy hour at Drakensberg Brewery
Until the next one!
SUNDAY - DOWNHILL
Sunday saw the final round of the Downhill Series take place at Dragon Peaks Resort about 10 minutes drive further into the mountains from the Enduro the day before. A brand new track awaited, having been carved out of the mountainside, with 2 technical sections separated by a fast open middle track that would see speeds in excess of 60km/h. To tuck or pedal down the last grass road into the lower section of the course ... that was the question on everyone's minds. But that question soon trailed into oblivion as riders switched their attention to the ever-changing, dry and off-camber top and lower sections. What was initially perceived by many as a "tame" track came back with a bite, as 90% of the riders tasted dirt at some point in the weekend whilst trying to navigate the powdery turns.
A strong Gauteng squad saw the out-of-towners take the top 2 positions in the overall for the day, with Youth rider Rory Kirk taking 3rd overall in a breakout performance. KZN Junior rider Matt McCleary caused a GP sandwich, taking 2nd place overall for the day, but it was GP rider Rob Frost who was unstoppable in the dry conditions decimating the field by 13 seconds with a time of 2:44.31
Overall Mens podium for the day.
In the ladies Beanie Thies (Ladies U1
again showed the rest a clean pair of heels taking the win over Stefanie Grossmann (Ladies U40) in second and Louise Kotze in third.
Overall ladies Downhill podium for the day
Sub Vet Mens winner "Crazy" Dave Hannaway was superstoked to walk away with a Rockslide Heli-biking Tour as a lucky draw
Shuttles were slow going on the mountain trails
But that didnt stop the stoke
A huge thanks to Dragon Peaks Resort for the land access
Matt Chapman getting wild in the slippery top rock section
Warren Woolridge foot out - flat out in the top rocks taking 4th in Junior Men
What a view!
Caide Goveia enters the first rocks on his way to 2nd in Sub Junior and 6th overall
Rob Frost was on fire all day
Liam Hichens enters the lower rock section
Matt McCleary in full tuck on his way to 2nd overall for the day and the win in Junior Men
This inconspicuous corner at the bottom of the track claimed riders left right and centre. Alistair Brand gives it a go
The KZN Gravity Commission thanks all its sponsors
Cathkin Trails are thanked for the trail access - cathkintrails.co.za
Drakensberg Brewery is thanked for hosting Registration and Prize giving for the Enduro - www.drakbrew.co.za
Dragon Peaks Mountain Resort is thanked for hosting the Downhill - www.dragonpeaks.com
All other venues and committees who helped make this event great are also thanked.
Photos by Ink Black Visual Art - www.facebook.com/InkBlackVisualArt/
Full results are available on - http://www.elitetiming.co.za/results/