IGSA WC Hot Heels Africa

IGSA WC Hot Heels Africa

Welcome back to the windy course at Kogelburg! My fourth time back to Hot Heels Africa was fun as always and I still managed to learn a few more things about strategy on this course. Thought I had this one figured out. This course may seem tame, but that’s just on any given day. Fast forward a few hours or another day and forget about what you felt about your runs before. The wind blows in a whole new challenge every hour. If not you have baboons on the course to keep your day interesting!

Practice on Friday started late as the shuttles took a while to arrive but all in all it was a good day. The course contains only sharp sweepers, starting with a right, left and right. There is no need to footbrake on this course. Air braking is sufficient enough… when it works! There are two small uphill sections that give lighter riders a slight challenge but nothing they can’t overcome while drafting a lead rider.

Day one was all practice with winds blowing but nothing serious. Loyd’s left was fun as I was able to reach over the bales and smack the branches just behind the bales. Second run down with Dalua I wasn’t sure what I was hitting. I took the day to film lots and got some cool clips. For dinner I took Dalua to a great pizza place in Pringle Bay called the Perry Gator’s. We did some delicious carbo-loading and called it a day.

On Saturday the unbelievable happened and the rain followed me to South Africa! It was drizzling lightly but nothing to worry about with mad heat and sunshine just around the corner to dry it up in minutes. I waited a bit and dropped in. The course was a touch slower or so it seemed in certain places. Tail winds here and new headwinds there. The pinnacle event of Saturday was a two step escalation of crashes. One heat with Robin Sandberg had a good crash and then directly after it a serious mega crash happened!

Mikael Jensen, Christoph Batt, Steffen Eliassen, and Douglas da Silva were involved in hectic crash to say the least. Lead rider Mikael precipitated the reaction by exiting Loyd’s left with a crash that forced Christoph to swerve into a slide to the left to avoid Mikael on the right. Steffan also took left to avoid Mikael rolling from the bales ultimately crashing right into the back of Christoph braking his baseplate! This left Douglas to deal with the yard sale… no room left and a direct collision course for Mikael sent Brazilian Superman into flight. Prior to take off Douglas hit Mikael in the head with his shin on the left leg and then landed with a hard impact on his right knee.

Mikael was seriously injured and it was not likely he would race on Sunday. He suffered an intense crack to his head which put him out for several minutes while riders around were feared for him. Christoph had a broken baseplate to deal with of which he brought no spares. Douglas felt he had ligament damage and was not sure he would race either.

Qualifying started after lunch with with wind conditions shifting slightly but not enough to disrupt the flow of my lines. With the delays from crashes the day ran short and we finished off with only on timed run with my time putting me in 4th. Wind… unpredictable, especially in the Cape Town region! Douglas put in a qualifying run despite having a hard crash and placed 2nd.

On race day morning I managed to bend the rental car door out of whack while opening it in the wind. By wind I mean severe gusts! Minus the damaged door which bent back into “sorta” shape, I had the best runs on the course EVER! The winds were howling hectic all over and made the Baboon Bend (the last right sweeper) the gnarliest I have ever taken it. I was in love with the course. I was beyond stoked to race as many people were shaking in their booties!

Then the wind happened… it took it back to square one and that was that. Booooo. Racing started up with a 64-man bracket that was empty to start but packed down into some more serious heats quickly. I had a fun run battling Stephan Rüfli and Ramón Königshausen all the way to the finish line. I won all my heats and then came finals! I made 5 mistakes that run that cost me some serious ground I could have played with. Instead I was pushing hard to make moves happen and they all happened too slow or in the wrong place at the wrong time. Tail wind is a $%^&#!

I placed a solid 3rd place but know I had more in me. Mike Zietsman took the win with a tremendous effort after 5 years of loosing to international racers. He definitely deserved it and pulled it off in a way that made everyone who took more than 6 (estimate) runs down the hill like they were wasting their time! Bastard! 😉 Ramón Königshausen took 3rd and Anton Pratt finished in 4th. Another tremendous effort by SAGRA! Many spectators came out to watch, more than I have seen in the last 4 years, and the most ever racers were in attendance with the grom count staying strong. Lank kiff race!