JEFFREYS BAY, EASTERN CAPE – The fifth edition of the JBay Wind Farm MTB Classic took place on Saturday 22 July in perfect conditions. Some 500 riders, of all ages and skill levels, took to the trails around the Eastern Cape holiday town of Jeffreys Bay over three distances, 25km, 50km and the gruelling 85km ultra marathon.
At the sharp end of the ultra-marathon it was a tight two-horse race, with East London’s Jason Reed and Max Sullivan from Stellenbosch working well together from early on.
Reed eventually managed to break-away from Sullivan in the Wind Farm and claimed the victory (and the R10 000 first prize) in a time of 03:20:41. Sullivan came in second (03:21:19), with 2016 defending champion, Ndumiso ‘Maza’ Dontso, rounding out the podium.
“Max and I have very similar technical skills, so we used that to our advantage to get a gap in the first singletrack,” Reed commented afterward, adding how he was surprised to take the win because of how strong Max was on the day. “We shared the pace and worked hard, Max has a big engine on the flats…”
“Coming into the last climb I saw he was beginning to tire so I pushed really hard and got a small gap.” That gap was enough for a victory of just less than a minute over the 85kms with its 1385m of climbing.
The Ultra featured an almost entirely new route, with various sections of purpose-built singletrack having been added. “It was a great mix of singletrack and jeep track,” Reed said. “It was tough, rocky and technical with a lots of corners, braking and accelerating. Definitely suited to ‘real’ mountain bikers,” he said.
In the women’s race, Yolande de Villiers rode a spectacular race to successfully defend her title, finishing sixth overall in the 85km, in a time of 03:34:44. She also collected the R10 000 first prize for her day in the office. Three-time champ and darling of the Eastern Cape, Anriëtte Schoeman finished second, with Siska van der Bijl in third.
While Reed, De Villiers and co were battling it out at the sharp end of the field of around 500 other mountain bikers enjoyed the perfect Eastern Cape winter conditions to ride the only one-day event of its kind to traverse a wind farm. This year also saw the introduction of an eBike category in the 50km route.
“As one of the local industries in Jbay, we are really proud to continue to be a part of this event,” commented Mark Pickering, Managing Director of the Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm, who himself completed the 25-kilometre route. “This is the third year that we have sponsored this event and it is fantastic to see the race improve each time. More riders, more support and a lot of innovation, particularly in the 85km route, where a lot of new track has been built,” he said.
“Innovation and constant improvements, is what we particularly like as a Wind Farm,” he concluded.