True to its name the Jock Classic is one of the ‘classics’ on the local road race calendar. The race has undergone several changes in ownership, format and race route since its inception in 1983, but it seems to have settled on its current format of 3 stages in one day. The first stage takes riders from Nelspruit to White River, then on to Sabie for stage 2 and finally back to Nelspruit over Long Tom pass on stage 3 for a total of 154km with 2900m of ascent.
Proceedings got underway at 6:50 am on Saturday for the small field of Elite ladies. With a few of the age category bunches being pretty small, it would be nice if we started together to perhaps add another dimension to the racing which can become predictable as there was basically 1 ladies team (Demacon) dominating events with their superior numbers. Be that as it may it was encouraging to see some of the individual/privateer ladies willing to take the racing on and be positive throughout the day. Especially Zanri Rossouw (4th), Lauren Walker (5th) and Danielle van Graan rode particularly well taking the racing on and giving their all on every stage.
As expected the climbs made the difference and each stage finished in a reduced bunch sprint with the Demacon team having the strength and numbers to play tactics. I finished 2nd on the first stage and 3rd on stages 2 and 3 for a 2nd place overall behind Carla Oberholzer and ahead of Mauritian Kim Le Court, both from Demacon.
For every climb there was a descent and I loved my new Merida Reacto Team bike (Northern Lights special edition I might add!) which seemed like an unfair advantage every time the road tilted down and I went sailing past my competitors. By no means was the bike slow on the climbs either, it was just that it was ridiculously fast every time we went downhill.
In all the Jock Classic was a fantastic event with good organization and a tough route. Being held in winter in the Lowveld it is a fantastic opportunity to escape the winter cold which grips most of South Africa this time of year and get in some scenic miles on the bike. In between the stages everybody had a chance to socialize and share war stories before tackling the next stage with renewed energy. Long may this race continue to survive!