Hillcrest mountain biker Andrew Hill will be back to target a sixth title in seven years at the STIHL Sharks Trail Adventure at Summerveld on Sunday 2 December, and plans to ride home after the race as part of his extended off-season training regime.
Hill trains a lot on the hills and sugar cane roads around Shongweni and Summerveld and takes a lot of pride in his success at the race that he describes as his local major.
"It is my home ground when it comes to training," said the TIB Insurance star. He said that rumours that some of the signature single track from the old Hill2Hill route were going to be incorporated into the Sharks Trail route excited him.
"It sounds like we are going to be going down a super section of switchbacks, which will be awesome," he enthused. "It will introduce a new tactical climb to get there and will present a fresh new angle to an already great ride." For Hill the race comes at the end of a tough season of stage races that included success at the Lesotho Sky Race and Grinrod Bank Berg and Bush when he is looking at a base for the 2019 season.
"It is longer hours on the bike, and in the gym as we load base miles into the legs, " he said, and added that was the reason he always rides back to his home in Hillcrest after the tough 40km race in Summerveld. "It is a special event with a chilled holiday vibe about it that I look forward to every year," said Hill.
"You never know with the weather as we are into summer. It can be hot like last year or we could get a bit of rain," he added.
Hill pointed out that the off-season timing of the race meant that elite riders were never certain about which other riders might be on the start-line challenging for a place on the podium.
"It is the same for everyone, being the off-season," he said. "The local top riders are always there, and you never know who else might be there," he added.