The Safire Baynesfield MTB Classic started on a warm morning and under clear blue skies on the Baynesfield Estate, just outside of Pietermaritzburg.
This event, pitched at both families and serious riders, had a lot to offer the entrants on the day.
The 65km was billed as fast and mean with just the right balance between climbs like the Baynesfield Breaker and fast descents that had the camera crews searching for an extra gear to stay ahead on the motorbikes. The narrow roads leading up to the King of the Mountain then gave way to broad internal roads and epic views that brought cyclists down to the main road. There were also pleasant surprises on the top of the ridge in the form of two sections of single track. The Young Guns II, in the young trees, certainly got the juices flowing and needed riders' full attention to navigate these successfully.
Thereafter, the main road featured for a few kilometres before turning off to the dam wall and two river crossings before climbing upwards towards the plantations and the trails within. Baby Breaker hill took riders to the top of the mountain and to single track. The long, fast single tracks and twin tracks were well groomed for the day's riding. Single tracks interspersed with under-cover internal roads took riders to the river where 4 kilometres of pristine trail awaited.
The section along the river which featured in prior races had a compact surface and many low lying trees which kept the heart racing as riders cleared the 5km to go sign. Once out and past the mielies, a simple ride up past the old dairy and down the main avenue of trees took riders to the finish line.
Andrew Hill, making light work of the course closely followed by Travis Walker (02:28:03), cleared the line in 02:28:01: a mammoth effort and a yardstick against which all others could benchmark themselves. Andrew also made light work of the King of the Mountain by claiming the maiden King of the Mountain title for himself. Third over the finish line was Carl Calverley, in a time of 02:29:30.
Julia Colvin claimed Queen of the Mountain and victory for the women, in a time of 03:02:18, followed by Natalie Bergström (03:04:10) and Jackie Moore (03:06:35).
The 45km course had all the features of the 65km except for the full Baynesfield Breaker and the views from the top of the ridge. The course turned right about a third of the way up the Baynesfield Breaker and joined the 65km on the district road, whereafter the Baby Breaker hill and trails awaited. Patrick Belton (01:53:57), Julian Jessop (01:54:34) and Joshua Nelson (02:02:26) came first, second and third, respectively. The ladies' 45km title went to Frankie du Toit in a time of 02:22:43, followed by Robyn Ryan (02:23:33) and Savannah Schuit (02:26:24).
Devlin Fogg of Trail Solutions lived up to his reputation for excellence by ensuring that the marking for all courses was superb. Each intersection had been painstakingly marked, with neon boards, pink stickers and lime, and left little doubt as to which way the course went. This was much appreciated as overheard numerous times at the end of the day's racing. Well done Devlin.
The 20km course took families and riders through the tractor museum near the Baynesfield offices and along the avo orchards to the small dam wall. Thereafter, a meandering internal road took riders past the lodge and to their first test of the day, namely the Lodge Climb. Just after the Lodge Climb and 10kms into their race, competitors headed right along the ridge overlooking the big dam and the vistas of the Baynesfield Estate. A clear, bright day and all the colours and smells of a farming community and rolling hillsides greeted riders along the ridge, before turning down and back to the finish line. Well done to all the families who participated.
A huge big shout out to all who assisted at the water tables. There were lots of eager assistants, music and smiling faces to greet the weary and thirsty riders along the routes. The Safire water tables, manned mostly by Safire staff and family on the 10km and 20km Lodge Climb were superb. The King of the Mountain table of Hay & Scott Attorneys had their hair down and music pumped up. The Shackleton table, which was the last table on the 65km and 45km routes, certainly rounded off a fantastic showing by all who assisted. Their smiling faces coupled with refreshments, bananas and chocolates revived flagging efforts for the final stretch along the river and to home.
Thomas Jessop crossed the 20km finish line first in a time of 00:43:49, with Tiffany Keep taking the title in the ladies' race, in a time of 00:51:30.
Baynesfield Club and Lodge
Peter Odell and team put in a mammoth effort to ensure that the routes were immaculate and that the catering at the club on the day would live up to expectations. Glen Haldane and his merry men on the motorbikes kept all riders on track both in front and behind the field on the day. A big thanks to both of you and to your teams.
Safire Insurance Company Limited
Safire turned 25 years old in May 2012 and would like to thank all the riders, families, vendors, organisers, Jody Butler and Ingrid and Wally Flint for putting on a magnificent show on the day. Well done to all of you! For more information on Safire please visit www.safireinsurance.com (FSP 2092). More photos will be updated to the Safire website over the course of the next week or two. To view these please visit: http://www.safireinsurance.com/events.php
Lastly a big thanks to Baynesfield Estate for allowing this event! See you next year.
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