If you want to get some good racing in your legs at this time of year, it is necessary to do some travelling and enjoy the hospitality of far away places.
First off, we joined hundreds of motorbikers heading for Colesburg. It was the Sheep Festival, as well as an annual gathering for the bikers, but we had the three provinces cycling challenge to attend to.
The 2000+ beds in the town were taken, so we were looked after by the race organiser who put us up at his Safari Inn, 25km beyond the Dorp.
The race started in Colesburg, headed towards the Gariep Dam, and then back again. The 105km event had riders from Tuks Aerosud, Panda, Thabiso, the Di Data juniors and Microsoft take part.
The racing got underway from the gun, with a 10-man group forming immediately. Over the climbs at the dam, the group was reduced to just 7, and from that a two-man break formed containing Waylon Woolcock (Tuks) and Dan Spence (Microsoft). The two contested the hotspot primes along the way back, and Spence was in command.
Willie van Zyl (Thabiso) was the odd man out, with no teammates he was expected to all the work in the chase group. He made two valiant efforts, and almost closed the gap to the leaders, but failed to close the final 50m.
This meant that the pair out front would have an uninterrupted go for the finish. Daniel Spence was superior in the sprint and easily won from Woolcock. The race for third was contested by Jacques Greef of Bloemfontein, Alex Pavlov (Panda), Willie van Zyl, Doug Ryder and yours truly.
Doug looked after the lead out, and I sprinted past Van Zyl who started early. Third place went to myself, Van Zyl got 4th, Pavlov 5th, Ryder 6th and Greef 7th.
We then headed for East London where our two mates were waiting for us. Malcolm Lange and Neil Macdonald had flown in to East London for a criterium that did not take place due to heavy rain at the Beacon Bay Retail Park.
The trip, supposedly 4 hours from Colesburg, took a lot longer thanks to heavy mist and rain, so there was not much of East London that we would see. Fortunately the race on Sunday sported better weather, although a bit wet on the roads, it did dry up. But not before a crash in the bunch, that took care of a few poor riders, including our Reinhardt Du plessis, who was having no luck recovering from a cold as well.
There were a few more faces at this event than the day before. The Virgin active Vets team had made the trip, but we didnt see too much of them before the break went away, containing Woolcock and Pavlov as well as Lange, Macdonald, Spence and myself from our clan.
All was not smooth for us, as Neil had some puncture problems, and Pavlov escaped with just Dan. This meant we had a lot of work to do, but with Woolcock trying to contain our attacks, it was difficult to send a rider across to the leading pair. I eventually got clear, but had to make a big effort to catch Pavlov, who was intent on keeping any other Microsoft rider away, even with Spence sitting on his wheel.
Once I caught up, there were 40km remaining, and I decided to let Pavlov have it. I attacked with the turn around, and tail wind. This was great; we could speed along at 60km/h. Soon Dan joined me, and the two of us were off in search of the winning posts.
As Dan had won on the previous day, I got to take the line honours, (although the few centimeters separating us confused the judges of our intention, and Dan was awarded first at the prize giving). Pavlov just held on to third place, with Lange and Macdonald finishing fast, Woolcock took 6th, and Doug Ryder won the bunch race for 7th.
This was a good event, with 80km of N2 closed to traffic, for riders only. It is hilly in these parts, and then there is always the wind
Hopefully more of the top local riders make the effort to travel to these far off events, as the organisers always make a big effort at welcoming us.
From the "burger run", Adieu,