Once a year on the eastern shores of South Africa, a small mountain biking event takes place. The moon must be aligned to produce a spring tide and then the riders come out to play. There could be more if space allowed but fortunately the delightful wild coast hotels used for the overnights have limited capacity and this caps the field to only two hundred participants, starting over two days. For some, it has become a ritual and for others it was a whole new experience. One man has written his name into the record books…
Defending champs Warren Price and Andrew Hill (Safire/TIB) were uncontested for race honours at the twentieth Imana Wild Ride. For Price, his eighth consecutive win. Behind them, the race for silver unfolded. The ‘Imana’, as it has commonly become known, does not attract the country’s best mountain bikers. But for those ‘racing snakes’ who blaze the beaches up front, it is a race like no other. No marked course, no GPS permitted. Just raw riding and an intricate route knowledge are key to getting between overnight hotels as quickly as possible. Monteith (aka Monty) arrived in a competitive mood and stirred the racing snakes into action. With Price and Hill out of the equation, it became a race between the alumni … Second placed Ernie Welch and Rory Attridge (Puc & Ern) and third placed Graham Monteith and recruit (former pro) partner Brandon Smith (Eurosteel OF’s) are Imana Wild Ride stalwarts who have the course dialled in. Adding flavour to the pot were fines master Craig Woods (aka Woodsy) and his wife Chrissie, who kept the pressure on the leading men’s teams, as they claimed a creditable fourth place overall and first mixed team home.
For the rest of the field, it was four perfect days of magnificent weather, riding one of the most pristine coastlines anywhere in the world. The bodies may have been weary on arrival at the finish at Umngazi River Bungalows but the spirits were high and souls revived. In true Imana Wild Ride fashion, some generous fund-raising efforts contributed to the Wild Ride Education Company which will pave the way for another classroom building project in the near future.
RESULTS, GC – Men: Warren Price & Andrew Hill (Safire/TIB) 11h20.17, Ernie Welch & Rory Attridge (Puc & Ern) 12h01.11, Graham Monteith & Brandon Smith (Eurosteel OF’s) 12h31.52. Mixed: Chrissie & Craig Woods (Wildefire) 12h37.10, Elmarie & Errol Thole (Milagro) 14h10.59, Christina du Plessis & Paris Basson (Today’s Plan) 15h14.51