Belton, who hails from a Seven Oaks farm near Greytown, did not expect to win. “I’ve been training for the Mountain Bike (MTB) Nationals in Port Elizabeth next weekend. It had been a hard week and my legs were sore,” he explained. He pipped Carl Calverley (2nd) and Mid-Illovo farmer, Derrin Smith (3rd) to the line in 1:41:10.
This is not his first Husqvarna Classic. Although he didn’t compete last year, he was placed in the top 10 in the 2010 event. He began mountain biking five years ago and won his first SA championship two years ago. He also won the All Africa Junior MTB Champion at the UCI All African Championships in Mauritius this year.
“This is a great event – there is a lot of media interest in the event and a lot of spectator support. The course designers have put a lot of thought into the track and made it very special. Also, there’s a lot of variety – you even get to look at zebras and spectacular scenery when you’re not concentrating on beating the rugged terrain,” he said.
The Husqvarna 40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge was won by Natalie Bergstrom in 1:59:04, followed by Julia Kate Colvin (in 2:01:35) and Nedene Cahill (in 2:03:38).
The youngsters shone in the Gwahumbe Game & Spa 18km Men’s and Women’s Fun Rides with sprog (11 – 12 years) Cameron Wright winning the former in 0:52:05 followed by Darren de Bruin in 0:52:50 and Andrew Edwards in 0:52:54. Sprog (11 – 12 years) Tiffany Keep led the ladies home in 0:56:00, followed by Kayla McCelligott in 0:56:26 and nipper (under 10 years) Sabine Thies in 0:59:21.
“Good weather really makes a big difference to the day and the weather man came to the party this weekend. Although the forecast was cold with possible rain, the actual weather started out chilly in the morning but warmed up later. We had perfect riding conditions!” said race organiser Craig MacKenzie.
He added that the 60m floating bridge that was introduced for the first time had proved a massive hit. “Bridges like this one are seldom seen at one day events or fun rides. It is positioned at water level which means that it sinks slightly as a rider enters it from the single track. It’s an unforgettable experience – almost like riding or skimming on the water. Believe it or not, only one bike – a tandem – took a tumble there and the skilled riders didn’t even take a swim!”
The race attracted a field of 1 000 – excluding the herd of zebras that came out of nowhere and joined a group of riders on the track.
For race results, log onto www.roag.co.za.
40km Men’s Mountain Bike Challenge
1. Patrick Belton in 1:41:10
2. Carl Calverley in 1:42:23
3. Derrin Smith in 1:46:50 (who hails from Mid-Illovo)
4. Klaas Meintjes in 1:46:52
5. John Ntuli in 1:48:40
40km Women’s Mountain Bike Challenge
1. Natalie Bergstrom in 1:59:04
2. Julia Kate Colvin in 2:01:35
3. Nedene Cahill in 2:03:38
18km Men’s Fun Ride
1. Cameron Wright in 0:52:05 (Sprog – aged 11 – 12 years)
2. Darren de Bruin in 0:52:50
3. Andrew Edwards in 0:52:54
18km Women’s Fun Ride
1. Tiffany Keep in 0:56:00 (Sprog – aged 11 – 12 years)
2. Kayla McCelligott in 0:56:26
3. Sabine Thies in 0:59:21 (Nipper – under 10 years)