KING OF THE FORT Schanskop Downhill Challenge 2011
Written by Massimo Bastiotto of First Nature
For many years the Western Cape has dominated the gravity racing scene in South Africa. This changed very quickly in the last few years with riders coming out of the cracks and the community growing. Gauteng has been known to be a flat province up on the plateau but, as a few riders discovered, this was not the case.
In 2010, for the first time in 6 years, the first race outside of the Western Cape was held at the Voortrekker Monument. Local riders from First Nature teamed up with the South African Gravity Racing Association and the King Of The Fort was born. Many riders from all over the country arrived, outnumbering the local riders. Nevertheless, they had no idea what was in store for them. The final chicane taught all the riders valuable racing lessons and it turned out to be a very successful race.
In 2011, First Nature decided that the King Of The Fort needed to be an annual race, so planning got underway early on in January 2011 and hype was building fast. All the riders that had been to the race in 2010 were excited and news spread quick of the upcoming Gauteng leg of the national championship.
Race weekend came and before we knew it, it was 10:30am on Saturday 18 June 2011 and the first rider was taking his first practice run. This year saw a massive growth from last year with 50 riders entering the race. This included 3 women (first time in South Africa that there was a women’s heat), 9 First time racers and 6 non-racers coming to test their mettle on the hill.
Saturday turned out to be a very chilly day with a stiff breeze blowing all day. Regardless, qualifying got underway and last year’s best time was beaten by 2 seconds. We knew we were in for something special on Sunday.
The mood on Sunday picked up quickly as the breeze had died and there was not a cloud in the sky. Practice got underway at 10:30am like clockwork and slowly but surely spectators started rolling in. By the time racing had started, the spectator areas at the bottom chicane looked like a music festival. Over 200 spectators showed up in support of the adrenaline junkie racers. Racing was intense and spectators showed their love by cheering for the riders attempting the harrowing chicane at the bottom.
Cape Town racers took a clean sweep of the categories but the local boys put up a great fight. We are looking forward to 2012!
For a full race report and full results, check out: firstnature.be. Images supplied by author.