I love a great adventure and the thrill of new experiences and this Sunday I could not have asked for a better dose of both!
Invited to sit in the safety car with the country’s number one cycling team – TEAM ABANTU – during the Engen Cycle Race 2013, it didn’t take much for me to jump at the opportunity.
Moreso TEAM ABANTU is the favourite cycling team of Three Cities Group who is the official hospitality partner of this amazing group of six professional riders.
Trailing in the safety car behind the almost 2 500 participating cyclists leaving the 6.30am start line from Durban Moses Mabhida’s People’s Park, the team was pumped for the 104 km circuit.
The balmy day was perfect for the race that that would wind through the beautiful M4 beach stretch; up towards the North Coast town of Ballito; around Westbrook Beach; back to Ballito and the final home stretch to People’s Park.
Super pumped and excited that Team Abantu were holding strong in the pack, our expectation for a cool win was cut short, when the wheels (literally) came off for Team Abantu’s Nolan Hoffman.
A riding star in his own right, with many accolades and medals to his professional cycling career, Nolan was brought to a rapid halt when his back tyre punctured.
Ofcourse it was to be a comedy of errors as Team Abantu’s safety car number seven was completely oblivious to his troubles due to challenges with the radio and loss of contact. Luckily fellow TEAM ABANTU cycling mate got to the aid of Nolan and did a quick tyre swap.
By then the professional pack was an entire minute ahead steaming towards the finish line . . . and disappointment set in. It seemed a great shame that this would be recorded as only the second loss in 17 races for TEAM ABANTU.
Sad and despondent our safety car team headed towards the People’s Park finish line to greet and cheer up our amazing team . . . but the cycling angels had another wicked surprise in line for us. Like a rising phoenix, Nolan was not to be outdone and with super cycling power pushed the gap and weaved himself back into the leading pack.
There was no better bombshell for the passengers of the TEAM ABANTU safety car, as we rounded the corner to People’s Park, only to be alerted by the raised hand of a race official indicating an amazing win for TEAM ABANTU and Nolan Hoffman!
Like Superman on two wheels, Nolan Hoffman had done the unimaginable; pushed all human boundaries and screeched to a perfect, well-deserved first place on the podium.
How he did it still evades me and I can’t begin to fathom the mental strength and physical endurance that Nolan called to his aid. But one thing is for sure the TEAM ABANTU colours were flying high that afternoon with the professionals once again proving why they sit on poll position in the national cycling fraternity.