The weather looked perfect ahead of stage 4 and we even managed to catch up on some sleep for a change. The solo categories started at 8am with minute gaps between each rider so as not to create any bottlenecking. As far as winning times for the day was concerned, 1hour was the expected benchmark with the bulk of the field looking to secure sub-2 hour times.
The 31km/720m route was anything but a walk in the park. A short road section took riders from the race village to Saasveld where the MTB group/club, the Hillbillies, have built some incredibly fast and flowing singletracks through both indigenous forest and pine plantation. It was superb. The trails are largely void of obstacles but exposed roots make riding in the wet a challenge.
Singletrack sections were interspersed with jeep track and some short punchy climbs so passing was seldom a problem. The biggest climb at 15km was substantial and there was still more to follow with short climbs of up 20 per cent. There was a contour section with lots of mud which reduced speeds before heading through the last singletrack alongside the storage dam. This piece of trail is perilously narrow with numerous large roots and low branches but we got through unscathed and secured another top 5 finish. Tomorrow’s 97km/1650m route is the second transition stage of the race and will see riders negotiate some incredible trials from George to Montagu via the famous Montagu Pass.