• Venue: Malmesbury
  • Date: 20 May 2017
  • Distance: 163km
  • Climbing: 2400m
  • Position: 1st
  • Time: 5h33

I really enjoy these 100-Mile events in SA and the AMA Rider presented by BikeHub in its 9th year is probably the oldest around. I won the first edition in the most brutal weather I've ever raced in, and since then I always try to line up for especially this one!

For this year the weather was near perfect and the Swartland offered us the most amazing views of open roads, open lands and beautiful mountains in the distance as a contrast. The route is almost all on gravel roads, just a handful of kilometres on smaller farm roads, which makes for some interesting racing. The road condition plays a big time on time, and even though the weather was great, I think the route was a bit more sandy than last year.

With a strong field of Madmacs/Hazz team riders on the start line, I wasn't sure if they could use their numbers against me, but once again realised on a race like this, the winner is usually the one with some more in the tank. Etnart Louw, Max Sullivan and William Simpson joined me in a four rider pursuit for the finish, but I found myself isolated after the toughest climb of the day after 50-kilometers and I decided to push on and get some hurt in the legs for a solo 110-kilometers!

I put a target on for myself trying to get the average speed above 30 to break 5h30, it looked good for a moment, but the final 25-kilometers is where the boys gets separated from the men, and I just did not have it ;) If we skip the tea-party earlier in the race it is for sure a possibility!

I raced my Canyon Exceed Gravel Grinder, even though it is basically a hardtail with drop bars, it was the perfect choice for this race! It gives you so many hand positions for a long race like this and especially helps with getting you comfortably in an earo position since it is need all the time.

Thank you Dirtopia and AMA Rider for another lovely and well organised event!

Side Note - Regarding SA Marathon Champs: This is the first time since I took marathon racing serious that I have opted to miss our National XCM Champs. It was a hard decision, but I am still happy that I have chosen the AMA 100-miler that I knew would be well organised and have good media with BikeHub as a media partner and it is something that I really doing. I was pretty disappointed in the Federation and organisers of our National Champs with really bad communication and organising. So little information about the race and my first decision to skip it came when a press release that the race will only be the bare minimum for a XCM race of 60km, which doesn't suit me anymore. When I returned from another week-long event, I heard the made the race 80-kilometre by bumping into someone in the street five days before the Champs. I did my research and found out it is true but the 80km race had 3000m of climbing. Still feeling the race do not suit me, I opted on the AMA 100-miler instead just to find out the race ended up being only 1700m of climbing on a course that now figured out would have suited me. I am really happy for former teammate Nico Bell to win after many close calls! But thought the organisation and planning of such a special and most important XCM event in SA was an absolute joke. Better luck next time CSA, maybe I can help you organise it.

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Pictures | Chris Hitchcock