Some breathtaking bike action was on show at Ferndale, Cathcart over the weekend and a number of exciting finishes drew cheers at the annual Henderson Valley Mountain Bike race.
Jonty Rosenstrauch and Lara-Anne Everts-Van der Venter were the champs in the end, but they both had to work extremely hard for their victories.
On the overall standings Rosenstrauch came home in 2 hr 17 min 8 sec, beating out a strong challenge from runner-up Ndumiso Dontso, who arrived 26 seconds later.
“I was very happy to get the win,” said Rosenstrauch.
“It was quite a fast-paced race, started off hard. I took a wrong turn straight away.
“Quite a few guys crashed near the start, both Jasons wiped out there.
“It was sort of decided on a big climb – I managed to get away there, with the guys then catching up before I pulled away at the end again.”
“It was a tight battle until 5km before the finish line, so it was a really good race.”
Jason Peach claimed the third podium place, finishing four minutes and 51 seconds after Rosenstrauch, while Jason Reed and Luvuyo Siyasi rounded out the top five.
“It is a great race. The terrain is rocky and harsh so I really enjoy it and look forward to it each year,” Rosenstrauch said.
On the women’s front things were even closer as Everts-Van der Venter clung to her title with an exciting sprint at the end, finishing in 3:16:04 to edge Shannon Kirkhoff out by just one second.
“It was a great race, I really enjoyed it and was so happy to win,” said Everts-Van der Venter. “It was very cold – I think it was the coldest conditions I have started in.
“We took a few wrong turns, which made the race a bit more exciting, but everything went well in the end.”
“We rode together most of the way. Shannon is really strong at the moment, so it was an exciting finish and I was happy that we went over the line together.”
Sandi Schoeman finished third in a time of 3:26:07.
In the other distances competed on the day, things were not quite as nail-biting as the riders managed to put enough distance between themselves and the rest to take comfortable wins.
In the 40km race Zachary Swart claimed a dominant win in a time of 1:48:01, finishing 12 minutes and 36 seconds ahead of runner-up Clarance Randall, while Sam Waterson took third place 18 seconds later.
On the women’s side Saretha Olivier took a solid win in 2:05:57, with Lee-Ann Beard second just under 22 minutes later, while Ingrid Krummeck finished third.
In the 19km ride Sabro Atakligan was the first male home and Denise Norris the first female over the line, while in the 12km ride it was James Fletcher and Olivia Sheard.
Adding to this year’s edition was the trail running section, which brought a new dimension to the day as a number of people came and took on the interesting run.
Overall, 244 mountain bikers took part as well as 70 trail runners across the various distances, making for another successful and enjoyable event.