Ten years of Omni-Motion 24 hour.
I still recall to this day very freshly in my mind sitting at Logwood racing in a mixed team who incidentally went on to win that event. The one memory tattooed in my mind was watching the battle between Shaun Mc Kenzie and Grant Usher racing for the Solo win.
I was very inspired by this and decided that from that day on I will be racing 24 hours as a Solo rider. Now with 8 solo rides behind me I decided that I wanted to win the Omni-Motion 10 th. anniversary 24 hour event. Dimitri and his team created this out of passion and this event has evolved in to the biggest and most prestigious 24 hour event in the country. Let me not bore with the details regarding my training but let me say this, I went out to Rietvlei to ride the new route and met my very good friend Grant Usher there, the two of us and Mattie Viviers (the winner of the solo ladies this year) rode a few laps of the course. I went home very depressed and started toying with the idea of rather maybe doing the Wiesenhof 24 hour. I just knew, we all knew that this course was going to be immensely taxing. We all knew that this course was going to make the victor take home the spoils.
Johannesburg has been experiencing very strange weather and we have had some incredible thunderstorms. I kept ogling the weather channels and I just knew that we were bound to have a mind boggling time with the mud. I started getting a little ill a week before the event and had swollen glands, the last thing I wanted to do was NOT pitch.
Saturday came the sun was shining and it was blazing hot but also humid. I looked at all the solo competitors and became rather nervous. We started the customary Le Mans start and I grabbed my bike from Anthony Ramsay. Grant Usher who was on a single speed put in a blistering pace and after the first lap we were in and amongst the top ten positions overall. I know from previous years that Grant likes to go out hard and obtain a lead, I decided to slow my pace and keep some explosive power for the second half of the race, in training I conditioned myself to be able to pick up my intensity as others were hopefully going to slow down. At 5 ‘o clock the wind started howling and a few minutes later the rain came down, it rained so hard that every drop that touched me hurt.
Dimitri and team decided to stop the race for two hours, I will be honest I was very unhappy, I just wanted to ride. I took a well earned break and decided to re-fuel with some USN Epic Pro and I also had a USN Recovermax. The race resumed at 7:30 and the zig-zag field in the beginning was extremely muddy and slippery. I rode with Sean O Madden who was one lap behind me at that stage and lying in third place overall, Grant was one lap up on me and in first place. The mud was unbelievable and the forests already being twisty just became more difficult to ride as they were like ice rinks.
My neck and shoulder was in an immense pain and my right arm kept collapsing as I struggled to hold on to the handle bars, I came through transition and told my wife Renee that I was in excruciating pain, my friend Chris Froome was there and offered a neck massage, this definitely lifted my spirit. At 12:00 am. I told Renee that I would not be able to carry on, my neck was too sore and I struggled to hold the bike, she was very encouraging and I decided to push through, I decided to put the pain in the back of my mind and carried on riding, coming through at around 02:00 am. I went to look at the computer and realised that Grant had not clocked any laps for a while but Sean was still there fighting like a pitbull, I now had a two lap lead and decided that there was no stopping, the Sunrise was a beautiful sight to behold and I felt energised. I waited for Sean to prep a second bike whilst Adrian from Specialized went to give my bike a wash and help the poor beast to lose at least 5 kg’s, Sean and I rode and at around 3 km’s into the lap his chain snapped, we stopped and Timothy who raced on a two man team also tried to help, Sean had no chain breaker and he told me to carry on. The 11 th. hour was now approaching fast and I realised that I have achieved my goal.
After a few more laps I waited another 40 minutes for Sean and wanted to encourage him by riding a lap with him again, he was fighting a hard fight. I lost him somewhere on the hills .I heard a voice behind me and it was Dane Walsh the winner of the men 18-35 category, it was an unbelievable experience and we rode a super half a lap together. I came through to transition, I re-fuelled and realised that it was after 11:00 am. Dimitri looked at me and asked me if I was going out again, I said yes, he looked surprised and announced on the PA. System that I had already won but decided to do one more lap, I will never forget the support from all the riders as I rode off on that last lap, thank you to all of you for the shouts of encouragement. I rode my last lap with Anthony and Timothy and finished at around 11:40 am.
This was an unbelievably tough route, the toughest 24 hour route in the country I would have to say and the rain just made it even worse. What an honour to be sharing the course with Grant Usher and other great Solo riders.
Dimitri ,Chris and the rest of the team, I am honoured and privileged to have been a part of the Omni-Motion 24 hour for so many years. To USN, Specialized and Omni-Motion I thank you for all the support and thank you all for making this a reality.