Press Release from Sonya’s Newsletter
Looney and Ikeda take 4th in the Mixed Category at Joberg2C Stage Race; South Africa.
This year marked the 7th edition of South Africa’s longest point to point stage race, the Joberg2c. Spanning the beautiful countryside from Johannesburg to the ocean front finish in Scottsburgh, riders experienced a challenging but rewarding course. Joberg2c is a conglomeration of two favorite shorter events in South Africa; Berg & Bush and Sani2c. The creative promoters decided to mash them all together, add 3 days and Joberg2c was born. The 900km race covers private land that is only open to the event through farmland and game reserves. The event also serves as a major fundraiser for local organizations and schools along the route. Each day, the race finish would be lined with dozens of affectionate school children who benefited with new libraries, buildings, and resources. The course boasted 9 days racing and participants from 31 countries. This year was the most competitive mixed category the race has ever seen. The podium results were shuffled each day.
Long time friends and stage race veterans, Sonya Looney and Yuki Ikeda teamed up for the first time to take on the event. “I was excited to race with Yuki and also go to South Africa for the first time! We have spent so much time together traveling around the world, I knew it was guaranteed to be fun. However, racing mixed is the hardest format, particularly when you are the weaker rider. I was at and beyond my limit every single day. We learned a lot about racing tactics during the event as well and admittedly made some costly mistakes the first couple days of the race. The first 4 days were definitely more of a dirt road race format and the minutes we lost added up. I’ll have to write an article about all the things I learned about how to race the mixed category! Still, we did not give up for a second and battled for the last podium spot each day taking 3rd in 3/8 timed stages. The first stage was neutral and a great chance to meet other riders. Within the first 25 minutes, we were greeted by a chaotic stampede of 50 animals that were a little too close for comfort!”
Joberg2c was also a self-navigated course adding yet another element of challenge, especially for foreign riders. “It’s tough to be going full gas but also trying to keep an eye on your GPS without taking some wrong turns!”
The event became more mountain biker friendly as the days edged on with less flat windy dirt roads and more singletrack and elevation gain. The story behind every handcut trail along the route was told at dinner along with stunning photos and videos. “We closed our gaps to less than a few minutes in the later stages and were more in our element. For the long road sections, I admit I wasn’t fit enough to hang in the long, blistering surges when the pack decided to go hard for a long time but I was happy with my fitness on the climbs. This race was interesting because it tested everything, but road fitness definitely took priority. The singletrack descents were roaring fun and the changing landscape as we headed south was breathtaking. We couldn’t close the gap. I was so incredibly impressed with the organization. They thought of absolutely everything to make sure that racers were comfortable and things were convenient for us. South African hospitality and the community were unlike anything I’ve experienced!” recalled Sonya.
Ikeda enjoyed the event as well. “The mixed category was more competitive than I expected, but it was very good because we pushed our limits everyday to chase and get on the podium. I think we worked very well considering that it was our very first experience in mixed category! 9 days of racing was very hard, but it was very good experience and training. Thanks to Sonya for being such a great partner to race with! You are the best!”
Next up for Looney is a block of Enduro, XC, and stage racing in British Columbia for the summer. “I hit it hard the first part of the year stage racing and training on 4 different continents. I’m ready to be home for awhile and ride the best singletrack in the world!”