SATURDAY 07 / 04/ 07
Danny Fowler (Team Plastomark Crystal Powers) got the 5 second leadout as is his right as defending Shrapnel King. The pre-ride talk in the bunch was that he would go straight into North Shore or Dark Side to lose the whole bunch. Danny is one of the few riders who can ride these trails at speed, so this was quite a strong possibility.
Things turned out differently!
Bryce Munro (a previous King of the Park winner at Logwood) had to be physically restrained from taking off with Danny at the start. With half the Springbok forward pack sitting on his chest whilst Danny got his five seconds, he was right at the front of the chasers as soon as the Boks got off him.
Danny flew straight into Kitchen Sink, in a surprise move, and elected to try to take on the fittest of the fit on muscle alone. When he exited the switchbacks near the Clubhouse and started carving the berms leading to 12 Steps (so low his bars were scraping on the ground) he was increasing his 5 second lead incrementally.
This prompted a VERY lively response form the likes of Roger Blewett (Team Plastomark Crystal Powers) and Bryce (Fritz Pienaar Cycles) and Frank Hayward (Club Mugg & Bean). The chase was then on in earnest.
Danny’s seated riding style (very reminiscent of Andrew Mclean in full flight) puts his centre of gravity very low to the ground and his flight through 12 Steps could best be described as a riding display! He put more time into the chasers regardless of how hard they came.
Getting big air over the Monster Mound at the entrance to Switchback, he landed it between the posts in what could be termed a perfect drop goal if you were a rugby fan. And then proceeded to really drop the hammer.
It was just Danny’s day and he couldn’t seem to put a foot wrong. Exiting Switchback he flew through a U turn into North Shore and up over the Big Bridge with everyone in hot pursuit but starting to look a bit ragged.
From the Maelstrom Bridge exit Danny took flight into the Dark Side (which was always calling him), climbing the two bridges that cross Zombie Birdhouse in two places while still pouring on the pace.
This left only Roger and Bryce in pursuit.
The Big Dipper saw Bryce chicken out in an amazing display of common sense, and with Bryce out of the way Roger got about the serious job of trying to close Danny down. A small fall from one of the Dark Side bridges (small???? is anything in Dark Side small???) let Roger get within striking distance.
With the distance starting to close between them on the Main Drag transverse section, Danny ducked into Water Worx and then just stood in the pedals and disappeared. Roger got off his bike while still going 30 kph because he thought he had stopped in comparison to Danny.
And so it comes to pass that Danny Fowler is the first person to successfully defend his Shrapnel Crown 3 times, and is the undisputed Shrapnel King, not to mention a serious contender for the XC SA Champs that are being held in Fountains very soon.