Last weekend the Jonkershoek Valley got assaulted by hundreds of bikes for the Africa Continental Champs. XC & DH, young & old, but with one thing in common... the love of riding bikes!I was lucky enough to be able to shoot the DH practice on Friday. Shooting here the weekend before meant that I had covered most of the track, or at least the spots I thought that would work nicely for shots, so this time around I had to look for little things I hadn't gotten to & try some new stuff on the old spots.
It was a good day & still dusty as hell. My equipment wasn't loving it, but it made the shots so much nicer with roost & dust trails everywhere. I got caught in the corners quite high up on the track & wasn't sure when the shuttles were stopping. After guessing the last rider was done I packed up & made my way down. When I got to the 2nd road gap I knew that there was not gonna be anyone waiting for stragglers like me. I had a 1km+ walk back to the gate with ± 20kg of gear on my back in the hot sun. That was the most fun & it got my legs ready for the next 2 days of weight training!
I was teaching in the morning & only got to the XC track at 12am, so I'd missed the juniors, but the elite girls were just about to start. The elite guys were last & I was keen to see what I could get of Burry Stander, our XC machine. The XC is a bit more walking & my legs were loving it after the walk back the day before. The track was using a lot of the Canary Trail, one that I cycle quite often, so knew it well. The only difference is they were going up most of it instead of down. I enjoyed shooting it, although very different to the DH I'm used to. The action is not quite as extreme, but after watching the way Burry was plowing through the course & only getting faster & faster every lap I had loads of respect for the commitment & dedication he has to get to that level of fitness.
I woke up & looked out my window to see what the weather had in store for race day... I couldn't see a thing! There was such a thick mist & I was getting visions of mist in the trees & my flashes & dusty trails. That vision didn't last too long unfortunately. As we went higher with the shuttle I could see the mist was only right at the bottom of the valley. I still had a bit of a hazy atmosphere & with the early morning light it was looking good. My game plan was to get a few shots of the top road gap during the last bit of practice & then move down to a tiny drop/bump after a double into a steep slope for the seeding runs & then down to the bottom open section for the race runs.
The 3 fastest men down a hill on bikes in Africa
1st Andrew "Needles" Neethling 2nd Jonty Neethling 3rd Johann "Pottie" Potgieter