2300km, but where to start?

As you can imagine, a 19day epic generates a fair amount of copy.

You can go right to the beginning of the whole ordeal, or the startline/day 1.

I'm looking at moving from a general ride report to a more up to date what's happening site. Yes, Freedom Challenge doesn't just finish in Paarl! When i get round to it, there'll be a PDF of the 19days reports.

Send some feedback (I'm aware that the whole layout is just, well kinda rubbish!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The big GM

I’d actually never heard of Greg Minnaar when I arrived in Vail, Colorado for a ski season during a varsity break in 2001. I rode mountain bikes, but I didn’t even know we actually did downhill seriously in South Africa. The locals educated me very quickly, and have been a fan ever since. He was World Champion in 2003, and has consistently been on the podium since (when he’s not injured – comes with the territory).

I'm a total woos when it comes to this whole downhill stuff with massive drop-offs, gap jumps and rocks that must become boulders at 60km/h. I've sat the base of the Whistler (another year, another ski season) Gondola looking at the myriad of bouncy bouncy bikes around during the fringe switch from snow fun to forest mayhem, knowing the terrain that was being conquered. Downhillers are special bikers, and they have my full respect (even if I have to question the sanity of a few).

Maybe if downhill was an Olympic sport we would have heard the name Greg Minnaar just as much as Ryk and Roland. We can chuckle at the way his surname has been mispronounced just like Charlize Theron. He spends the fair amount of his time overseas on the pro circuit, but finds time to do training back home. The downhill crowd have a reputation for being lazy bikers who hitch rides to the top of the hill and generally put burger eating and beer drinking over physical training. Of course its an unfair generalization and the top riders are athletes in their own right. Greg himself has a Cape Epic under his belt. Word from the field is that he put the hammer down on the descents with riders crashing out trying to follow his lines at speed. There’s an urban legend he rode down one hill pulling a wheelie the whole way.

He rode a few years for the experimental Honda team. They took their motorcross bike expertise into downhill bikes, and despite success were never able to find a commercial market for the bikes. This year he’s joined the Santa Cruz stable, along with another downhill legend who just stays at the top after many years in the game – Steve Peat. They’re known as the Syndicate, and will be kicking ass at hills all year.

watch him calmly navigating the latest world champs course like he's driving the sishen-saldanha train

No comments: