The night is alive with the sound of crickets and evening birds and the steady crunching sound of our tyres against the gravel. It is a totally new world. Mere trees during the day become ominous shadows of night time monsters, watching with beady eyes. A rock during the day is a rock, solid and unmoving. But at night, they come alive. They play tricks on you, one will hide in the shadow of another, popping out just when you are about to go straight into it. You have to be quick, you have to alert, you have to respect the dark. If you don’t, or lose focus, (like I did almost a year ago, breaking my collarbone), you will come out second best!
Every Thursday, our night ride used to be the highlight of my week, followed by a scrumptious meal and a few beers at the famous Ed’s Diner! Our title sponsor; a[s]g Sports holds a monthly night race at Rosemary Hill in Pretoria. I was ecstatic to hear that I was entered and would be representing our a[s]g MTB Academy, this would be my first night ride since the crash, I couldn’t wait!
The weather was chilly but the vibe on the start line was electric, everyone lined up with their lights shining, chatting away keen for the challenge ahead. There were hundreds of riders participating; I imagined that the the start chute must have looked like the Milky Way from above!
When the gun went, the front guys set off in what seemed to me to be a flat out sprint. I went out hard but kept it steady. Up the first drag, I somehow found myself alone, the leaders a few hundred meters ahead of me and the galaxy of blinking lights a few hundred meters behind. This was how it was for most of the remainder of the race. I passed a hand full of guys but otherwise it was just me, and the magic of the night! The single track was twisty and turny with about 5 bridges; the corners would catch me off guard at times adding to the thrill! There were a few minor drops, some stairs, some challenging rocky parts and loads of fast forest single track, My Pinarello 29er was lapping it up! After the floating bridge, I started to worry that I was lost. I could literally see no one behind or ahead of me, so every a[s]g reflective arrow came as a relief. I was still on track! Or was I...?? It can get quite ominous out there!
It seemed far too soon that I rode through the gates at Rosemary Hill; 21km was definitely too short for that much fun! As I rode over the start line, the commissure congratulated me for being the 10th man in, uh excuse me? I decided not to take it personally and blamed the dark ;)
I was greeted by a group of my fellow Academy members, Arno had come third in a sprint finish with Adolf Krige, Byron Ferreira taking the win, just 10 seconds ahead of them. Marcel had an excellent result, coming 4th, Kyle Wool was 6th, Jacques Pretorius 7th and Edwill came 9th. I was happy to see Angie come in 2nd and Petru 3rd, the ladies podium was fully fluo!
As usual we had our “Chill Zone” the Academy trailer set up with Epic Sports gazebos and chairs. There was coffee, refreshments and food for sale, and bonus: there was a bon fire which was a saving grace as I was freezing!
After prize giving my friend Jason and I went to join my old night ride group at Ed’s Diner for a scrumptious dinner and good catch up session.
A well organised event with great company and, of course, awesome mountain biking made for a really fun night out! Thanks to a[s]g and our Academy, I am looking forward to the next one!