Sabie Classic 2011

Last week our MTN Qhubeka mtb team headed down to Sabie for Advendurances MTN Sabie Classic. Training the week prior had gone well and spirits were high.  One look around our camp and it is easy to see that we are all starting to show some form from the good training advice through Activeworx and all the work everyone had put in was beginning to pay dividends!



This race has always suited me in a way because they are never shy with throwing in a couple climbs and my body weighing in as much as one quad of a Bulls lock does give me a slight advantage. On top of this I decided to finally get reacquainted with my Volcan hard tail after 6months of celibacy.  Pulled out all the stops to get the weight down and took it on a one hour refresher course the day before to try and remember how to ride one of these without killing myself on the first downhill.

The race started in the usual frenetic way with everyone trying to rip each others legs off in the first 5km. I decided to hang back and pace myself with one of the elderlys which paid off well as we rejoined the small lead group just before KOM having passed heaps of shrapnel along the mamba’s 10km climb. Feeling quite proud of myself I slipped in some PVM supplementation just in time for Mr Africa and me to subsequently get dropped on the very next downhill. I was quickly remembering why people ride duals or big wheels but luckily there was no panic. I slid through the tech zone getting a fresh bottle and a time split of 30sec to the leaders. I pinned my ears back, shook off the Garmin boss and somehow managed to bridge to the three leaders on the longest climb that I can remember ever doing in this race! Surrounded by my team-mate Adrien, Phillip Buys and some foreign guy named Karl(-; it was such a good feeling I must say but knew it was still far from over and to make things worse I could see Max also closing up to us, I knew it was about to get even harder!

I once again lost time on the next down and my then still full water bottle without having a sip which is not the best strategy for a 5hr race but what could I do? With Max I made it back to the leaders and then it was a game of cat and mouse. There were several attacks but I think everyone was close to the limit so there was not a huge impact and they all came back together. After the marathon split I decided to get on the front and try and ride at my pace because I felt that if the effort was constant it would cut down on the accelerations which would help me and if I could make it quick enough it would take some attention away from AD for awhile as he was covering all the accelerations prior and is obviously my go to man for top honors. This worked well for us up a couple of the minor climbs but then Max grew restless and decided to roll the dice. I couldn’t respond this time and had to be happy with keeping my pace and just hope that I could claim a few casualties on the last big climb of the day.

This unfortunately never happened as a few km after one of the water points and with less than 18km to go I became nauseous and had to stop and cry “George”. Game over unfortunately but still limped it home to the finish where I had to be content with the days effort.

Adrien was on the box and I proved to myself that I am back in the race and swinging it at the front, now to figure out how to make it stick but thankfully heading in the right direction. After this weekend I’m definitely looking forward to the next few battles in the upcoming months!

Great support again from Nicole and Epic Sports and a big up to the Volcan for bringing its a-game on a very demanding course where the Sram XX didn’t skip a gear or the Continentals not a slide! Also to Jodie from Octagon for doing such a good job with the series and all her twitter updates, going to be strange not having her at these events.

Congrats to my team mates Eszter and Yolande for sticking another great 1-2 performance despite a couple technicals and to my soon to be pocket-to-hang-on Charles for hanging in there during this tough race!


Paul Cordes

MTN Qhubeka MTB race team