Last year, Cornel had this crazy idea of hosting a 24 hour track challenge (in the middle of winter) at the Pietermaritzburg Cycling Oval. This year, partial common sense prevailed and he decided to host a trimmed down 12 hour version instead.
Hosted from 4:30am to 5pm with a 30min break in between did not mean it was going to be any easier than the 24 hour version though, many of the competitors took it on themselves to push it to the absolute limit to see how much milage they could clock up in the 12 hour riding window.
Starting in the pitch dark, only slightly illuminated by the glow of the lights around the Pietermaritzburg Oval, a mighty impressive amount of cyclists took on the challenge of clocking up as much millage as their legs could handle.
Was great to see; from the start, the smiles and the jokes between riders with the odd banter here and there on who is going to beat who and ultimately who will be taking home the wooden spoon for the least amount of milage.
The first hour or so that took place in the darkness was set at a frighteningly high pace, with a lot of riders already questioning why they were here... AGAIN. But Ultimately the pace settled down and everyone got into their own grove where they could dig their heels in and have a great time.
It was great to capture the extreme facial expressions, from shivering because of the cold, to the joy of riding with friends and the concentration to not crash into the rider in front of you, it was great to capture it all.
After a few hours of intense hot laps, what predicted to be a pretty cloudy and dull sunrise, got it completely wrong and we were rather greeted by an amazing picture perfect ray of colours in the morning sky. Suddenly riders were woken up and the motivation levels were at an all time high. It was the motivation boost that a lot needed, especially those who were contemplating heading home for a quick cat nap.
The sunrise did not disappoint at all, but after the beauty had burnt off and the clouds had come over once again, the racing turned back up to 11 and everyone was pedal to the metal all over again.
Being around many events in my line of work, I can say for certainty events don't just happen without amazing sponsors that put their hands up to support events no matter how big or small! Was great again to see so many loyal sponsors jump back on board this year to sponsor such a truly unique event. From Tate, Nolan & Knight, Hi-Q, Callans Bike Tech, Burg Wheelers Cycling Club of course and many more, it was great tp see such a variety of brands and companies jump on board to promote such an unique and inspiring event.
After many an hour on a bike, and enough laps around the track to make you feel like you training to be on the space shuttle for a trip to space, everyone ended up with a huge smile on their face; except Hayden who thought it was a silly idea and was in protest as he wanted to do another 12 hours or something.
It was awesome to be part of such a great event again, even if it was half the time it was still a great day out.
So in that case, I hope everyone has their diaries booked for next years Burg Wheelers 6 Hour Cycling Challenge.