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Zini Estate Buffalo Classic

28 January 2015

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Race #1 in the MiWay Big 5 Series, The Zini Estate Buffalo Classic took place on the 14th of May 2012.

A spectacular sunrise lit up the start of the Zini Estate Buffalo Classic, the first race in the MiWay Big 5 Series.

A total of 900 riders were registered over the course of the weekend with the Big 5 Challenge entries having already been completed at the Expo the day before.

The Batch Start, a very new experience for many riders, and a first for mountain biking in Zululand, allowed batches of 75 riders to start from 9:00 to 9.30 alleviating the congestion that comes with mass starts and allowed for a far pleasanter rider experience. The 25km batches went off first and with rising temperatures on what was meant to be a winters day the 50km race was sent away earlier than planned, unfortunately the speed of the top 50km riders was underestimated and they very quickly overtook the back end of the 25km race causing some congestion before the 50km and 25km split at 6km.

The new northern sections of single track after the Umlalazi Bridge in the 50km race was thoroughly enjoyed by all and with the extra climbs, twists and turns, meant slower times on a tougher route than in previous years. Both the 25km and 50km race once again rode through the Coastal Forest Reserve with the added extra of the single track through the Forest Lodge resort through to the new board walk section of the Raphia Palms, a unique experience for most riders as it winds through the mangroves and massive Raphia Palm leaves.

The final daunting challenge for any rider is the dreaded climb back up the golf course to the finish at the Mtunzini Country Club, this with temperatures at an usual thirty two degrees, which our race snakes took in their stride but saw the back end of the field pushing slowly to the finish. Apart from the 50km catching the backend of the 25km, the rider report backs have all been positive on the route, especially with the new single track sections in the North.

In the 50km men's race last year's overall winner Shaun Merredew ranked as the overall winner in a time of 02:03 after breaking away from Bradley Stroburg, who came in second just 7 seconds back, and Tyrone White who held back in the last few kilometres finishing two and half minutes back.

Nedene Cahill, the overall female in the 2011 50km is back, winning in a time of 02:17. Almost 11 minute back and fighting all the way to the finish Natalie Bergstrom went ahead of Heidi Dalton finished 42 seconds apart. Watch this space as this is first time Heidi has been back on her mountain bike in a while after concentrating on road cycling.

The 25km race as always produced a fast and furious finish and with some of the top contenders from last year moving into the 50km category has allowed new riders to challenge for the top positions.

Thomas Jessop won the men's 25km in a time of 1h.10, closely followed by local Mtunzini rider Wiehan Prinsloo and 5 minutes behind in third Bradley Stevens.

In the women's race the Richards Bay riders all contended for the top three positions, with Jeanne Grace coming in first in a time of 1h.23, Marriette Elliot 1h.24 and Michelle Young husband Debeer 6 minutes later in 1h30. This is a very competitive section and one to watch in the next race.

The venue at the Mtunzini country Club situated next the Zini River Estate, is the most picturesque in the series with views of the ocean and the coastal forest and is the ideal spot for this type of event with ample parking and facilities. This year for the first time in the series a fully administered Kidzone allowed the parents to ride with the knowledge their kids were safe and once again the Nashua Skydivers entertained the crowd before the start of prize giving.

All in all a wonderful day out for the whole family, thanks go to all the sponsors especially the overall Series sponsors MiWay whose contribution has enabled the Big5 Series to become the prime series in KZN and has enabled the funding of a video production team to film each race in the series, with the eventual aim being to air the each race's footage on the MiWay Mountain Biking show on SuperSport. Go-Boy Productions were out in full force to do just that, and managed to capture the race excitement of the day as well as the festive family atmosphere. The promo video will be on MiWayMTB's YouTube channel for everyone to view!

We also thank our race day sponsor Zini river Estate whose support of this race has been on-going for the past six years.




4 comment(s)

Jolene Mayer
A great event. It was well marked and well organized. The expo was a little disappointing as it was very small and not much variety. But the ride was enjoyable (although we could have done without the hill at the finish - ha ha). Could have started a little earlier as Zululand is VERY hot this time of year. All in all a great event though - WELL DONE.

PS - the times that are featured on our results have the 2011 race date??

Eddie Smith
Enjoyable ride. Well organized.

The 50Km event should not start later than 08:30.

Surina Meintjes
It was my first race and I really enjoyed it. The hills in the sugar cane was tough and I'm not familiar with sand, but overall it was a good race!!! Can't wait for the next one!

Dominic Prendergast
This is my second ride in the Big 5 series as I only started at the end of the series on the Kwambo ride last year...I am not an avid MTB rider & do it for the fun of it...I had a great time & it was a good challenge. Really thought that it was very well organised...I enjoyed the boardwalk forest area it was tremendous. That hill at the end almost killed me..hahaha...cant wait for the next one