Three years after his official retirement, the competitive juices will once again flow for Neil MacDonald when he takes to the start line of the Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race from Friday.
MacDonald, whose professional cycling career spanned a lengthy 15 years, said he was looking forward to the challenge presented by the three-day event near Bela-Bela.
“I believe it is an awesome race and am really looking forward to it,” said the two-time joBerg2c champion, who was also awarded national road racing colours on 14 occasions.
While he has shifted his focus to that of full-time financial advisor, the 40-year-old from Honeydew in Johannesburg said he still made time to get on the bike.
“I run a WhatsApp group, the West Rand Masses MTB Club, which gets together on weekends for rides and to catch up and chat about biking,” said the former winner of the Tour of the South China Seas.
He admitted that he had lost some of his form since retiring.
“It’s amazing how much you lose, but the competitive spirit is still there. When the wheel gets on the start line, you’re going to do what you can.”
Other than beating his manager and fellow participant as part of an office bet, he said he had no specific goals.
MacDonald, whose palmares also includes two runner-up spots at sani2c and 14th in the Cape Epic, has taken part in a few local races in preparation of the Waterberg Encounter, which forms part of the Liberty Encounter Series.
He said he would team up with his brother Ewan as team Big Mac and thanked Jamie Taylor of the Office Guru for providing kit and a vehicle.
The Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will see teams compete over a total distance of 200km on some of the best mountain biking terrain in the north of the country.
Participants will start and finish their journey at the bush lodge on the Sondela Nature Reserve, while day two will see them tackle a circular route from Elements Private Golf Estate.