THREE Port Elizabeth riders raced into the top five places of the 80km Mpact Addo Mountain Bike Challenge recently.
Dubbed the toughest mountain bike race in the Eastern Cape, the heavy rain the day before gave the participants an extra challenge having to deal with the muddy conditions of the demanding course.
The most experienced mountain bikers were likely the favourites at the starting line, but it was Port Elizabeth road cyclist Clinton Barrow who proved that he is just as comfortable on rough terrain as he is on tar.
Barrow, who rides for Cape Town team NuWater, has only competed in a handful of mountain bike races and bought his first mountain bike just a month ago.
“Winning the race was a pretty good feeling,” Barrow said, considering his lack of experience.
“The conditions were wet and muddy which made it tough. There was no grip and taking corners was difficult.”
But Barrow was up to the challenge, finishing in the top spot in a time of 03:08:30, five minutes ahead of experienced riders Jason Peach and Jason Meaton. Peach and Meaton finished a mere six seconds apart.
In fourth and fifth place respectively, was Springbok cyclist Roger Pheiffer and Grant Mac Geoghegan – both from Port Elizabeth.
Barrow was riding strong from the start and began to open up a gap after one-and-a-half hours into the race. Meaton and Peach were just behind at this stage.
Barrow stretched his lead up Zuurberg pass but there was some hope for Peach and Meaton, who are more experienced mountain bikers to catch up on the tight single track just after the pass.
Barrow, however, handled it perfectly to stay ahead and rode strong until the finish.
Fat Tracks Mountain Bike Club chairman Charl Joubert said Barrow had a very strong race considering he mainly participates in road events.