Mountain biker beats gruelling 620km race

Pictures: SUPPLIED

After a gruelling eight days of cycling 620 kilometres in 15 350 metres of vertical ascent at the Absa Cape Epic 2021 in the Western Cape, local Luvuyo ‘Thando’ Siyasi was looking forward to taking up the challenge in the next mountain bike race.

Siyasi who rode alongside partner Nhlanhla Mthembu from Ballito in KZN finished the race in a time of 33:11.09,6 putting them in 58th overall position among hundreds of national and international riders. He is part of the FNB Change a Life team which consists of eight other avid cyclists.

Manager Martin Dreyer said he was introduced to Siyasi about four years ago by a friend who had sought his assistance to pursue Siyasi’s passion. “The FNB Change A Life academy is based in the Valley of a Thousand Hills which is in rural KZN. I had a friend who was a farmer in Molteno, who was helping a few riders and told me about a youngster who needed assistance. He (Siyasi) came and spent a lot of time at the Valley of a Thousand Hills where he underwent full training. We supplied him with a Cannondale bicycle and equipment. When he returned home, he started working in a bicycle shop in Komani because of his passion for cycling,” said Dreyer.

Siyasi, who is originally from Molteno but resides in Komani, participated and completed the 17th edition of the racet. “I was ready because it was not my first time. I must admit that it was extremely tough. We also had a challenge where our bikes would sometimes be faulty but we went on to complete the game even through extreme weather conditions.”

Dreyer said Siyasi was skilled as a bike mechanic which was a perfect fit in the cycling game. “He is a well-mannered person and a hard worker. He makes it easy for me to want to help him.”

He said the pair grew stronger throughout the stages and had developed some form of connection.

When you have to do eight days of 80 or 90km a day with huge sections of climb, it is quite intimidating and you get nervous. Now that they have done it and have received their finishing medals they will be motivated to partake again because now they know how their training needs to go up a few levels. The sky is the limit.”