It was a case of ‘third-time-lucky’ for Port Elizabeth’s Andre Nelson as he won the seventh edition of the J-Bay Wind Farm MTB Classic in a time of 03:33:08 on Saturday 29 June.
The event ran from a new venue this year at the spectacular Twin Valley Estate just outside Jeffreys Bay and saw more than 400 riders of all ages and skill levels enjoyed perfect conditions over three distances, a 25km fun ride, 50km marathon and the gruelling 85km ultra marathon.
“I’m really happy with how it went,” commented Nelson, this after finishing second twice before.
“I didn’t really plan to go that early,” he said of what turned into a mammoth 60k solo effort, “it just kind of worked out like that.” The main bunch broke up soon after the start and about five riders found themselves up ahead. This soon dwindled to three. “Myself and Jason (Peach) let Adriaan (Oosthuizen) go and just bided our time, pacing together,” Nelson explained. “There was a long drag at about 15km where I put the hammer down and managed to drop Jason and then kind of hunted Adriaan down.” Nelson reeled Oosthuizen in after a few kilometres and then used his superior technical skills to get a gap in a singletrack section. He stayed away until the finish to win in emphatic fashion, followed by Peach (03:38:30) and Oosthuizen (03:47:42) in third.
In the women’s race Anriëtte Schoeman claimed an emotional fourth victory in a time of 04:20:55. She was followed by Shauna Esmeyer in second and Johanet Cilliers in third . “I had to spread the effort like marmite today,” Schoeman said afterward. “I knew I didn’t have mountain-bike legs because I hadn’t done structured training of any kind in the last month-and-a-half.” Schoeman lost her father in early May and then in mid June when she started racing again fell ill with bad flu, even having to pull out of the Knysna Cycle Tour which she has won countless times.
“Knysna was really bad and I was forced to pull out of the race,” she said. “My system is still a bit run down but I love this race – especially that last bit there though the Wind Farm is just one of my favourite things – so I just decided to come cruise and be consistent.”
“Conditions on the day were also just perfect for riding,” Schoeman added.
Indeed it was a picture perfect Eastern Cape winter’s day (in stark contrast to 2018’s torrential conditions) and, while the racing snakes were battling it out at the sharp end over 400 other mountain bikers made the most of the weather and the trails on the only one-day event of its kind to traverse a wind farm. Adding another dimension to the success of the 2019 event was also the addition of a trail running component, with a 5km and 10km on offer.
“The Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm is very proud to be associated with this event,” commented Dhesen Moodley, Managing Director of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm. “We stand for clean, carbon free sport, so this event is perfectly suited for the ethos of Wind Farm.”
“It is a local event, with local sponsor and great community involvement,” he added.
“Many members of our communities aren’t cyclists or don’t have access to bikes, so we the trail run and 5km walk, definitely encouraged more to join in the event,” he said.
“Apart from the edition of the trail run, the other big change this year was starting and finishing at this wonderful eco estate of Twin Valley and I think both have been amazing editions.”