“It is tough. Anything can happen out there.”
That was the reaction of David George (360 Life) when asked for his opinion on the MTN Attakwas mountain bike ultra-marathon (Oudtshoorn to Mosselbay) that will take place on Saturday (15 January).
George competed in the MTN Attakwas for the first time last year and surprised everybody by finishing second, after Kevin Evans. Max Knox (DCM) was third.
George’s biggest mistake last year was that he pushed himself too hard in an effort to catch up with Evans. At one stage the time gap between the two riders was less than a minute, but over the last 20 kilometers George paid the price for his hard racing. This enabled Evans to ride away from him to win by more than five minutes.
However, George has decided to take the words of the English expression that says ‘once bitten twice shy’ to heart.
According to him he is determined not to be left behind again during the last few kilometers.
“I now fully realize that the MTN Attakwas ultra-marathon is not only one of the toughest races on the calendar, but also one of the longest. The only way to ensure that you will be competitive is to do six to seven hour training rides in December to do your hard base miles.
“Riders who have been doing only three to four hour rides will be in for a hard time.”
According to George the section through the Attakwas is mentally and physically a very tough challenge.
“You have to be focused all the time. Afterwards there is no real respite because then the long slog to the finish begins.”
George said that he has been training with Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm, four-time winners of the Cape Epic.
“They are definitely not in top form at the moment but it would nevertheless be a mistake to underestimate them. Being the true professionals that they are, I know that they will give it a go on Saturday.”
Henco Rademeyer, Dryland Events manager, said that Saturday’s race would be slightly easier.
“When talking to some of the riders after last year’s MTN Attakwas ultra-marathon, we came to the conclusion that the race had become too tough a challenge. Roughly estimated, I would say that it was too hard by approximately 10 to 15%. This means that the riders could not really enjoy the racing and, in our view, that defeats the whole purpose of the race.
“There is no sense in riders cycling through the Droë Rivier and Attakwas nature reserves, which I consider to be some of the most beautiful areas in South Africa, without enjoying the experience and appreciating the scenery.
“We have omitted some of the toughest sections in the early part of the race and shortened the first half by about 10 kilometers. The second half of the race, from Bonnievale to Mosselbay, remains unchanged.”
For full results and more info visit www.mtncycling.co.za