JUICY LUCY CLASSIC….

 

                                                       GWAHUMBE NATURE RESERVE

A few hours after competing in the Spur Adventure Challenge at Shongweni Dam, my ‘Change a Life’ athletes hopped in the back of my bakkie (actually Graeme Pope-Ellis’s bakkie). We then drove to the Gwahumbe Nature Reserve in Mid Ilovo – KZN, accepting the generous invitation from Craig MacKenzie (Race Director of the Juicy Lucy Classic Mtb race), which included two nights of fancy accommodation, all meals incl. race entry. During a game drive, the exclamations of disbelief from the guys when they witnessed their first ever sightings of Giraffe, Wildebeest and Hippo were ‘priceless’.

Having raced the inaugural Juicy Lucy Classic last year, I loved every aspect of the race, from the well marked challenging course, friendliness of the farming community, to the warm hospitality of my hosts. Thus, I thought this would be the perfect Mtb race for my boys to experience as their first, hopefully making it a memorable one.

With a record entry of over 1200 participants, they charged off in the seeded C batch, excited and nervous. For the first 18km, riders traversed through the Gwahumbe Nature Reserve. . Mhkonzeni, Richard and Lucas later admitted they were very scared of coming across the Rhino we had tried so hard to find on yesterday’s game drive. The second half involved a steady climb and some great single track on the descent.

Thomas Ngidi crossed the line first within the ‘Change a Life’ camp – 112th position overall, closely followed by Nhlanhla Cele – 116th overall. The rest finished within the top 200 positions. I was very pleased with our results, but also relieved that no injury to body or damage to bikes was incurred.

 

Having been shown up in the Juicy Lucy Classic, the guys are training with more purpose now. Realising that as far as Multi-sport goes; they have a real chink in their armour with respect to cycling. The Sunday run, cycle, paddle session is the toughest of the week but strangely the one they look forward to the most.

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