Tough memory lane

2014-06-12 00:00

LEGENDARY Natal and Springbok loose forward Wynand Claassen will be looking to rekindle his experiences from the Dusi Canoe Marathon when he heads into the Valley of a Thousand Hills for the BSi Steel dusi2c race.

The two-day mountain bike race starts at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg on June 21 and finishes at Blue Lagoon a day later.

Claassen was initially down to ride the race with his son, French loose forward Antonie, but the latter had to withdraw from the race due to commitments in Europe, so Claassen will be taking on the challenge with friend Jan Bruwer.

“The dusi2c was a race that I heard about through e-mails as well as from other people,” the 61-year-old said. “I immediately went to the website and entered the race expecting to ride it with Antonie, as he usually comes out here after the season finishes in France, but he isn’t available this year after getting married as well as being on stand-by for the France tour of Australia.

“He is a very keen mountain biker and uses it as important training for his rugby and he recently sent me photos of him training in the south of France.”

The seven-Test Springbok explained that he got into riding mountain bikes fairly recently but could not pass up the opportunity to ride in a race of this nature.

“I basically started mountain biking about 18 months ago. I have done a lot of running, road cycling and paddling but mountain biking was quite a recent thing, but you could say that I am becoming a huge fan,” he said.

“I found Antonie’s bike in storage and I went and got it fixed up and that is where I started.

“I have been doing some of the smaller races up in Jo’burg but this [dusi2c] is something completely different and I am really excited for what should be a great challenge.”

Aside from a stellar rugby career, Claassen has been very involved in running and cycling with the Comrades Marathon and three Dusi Canoe Marathons also on that list of achievements.

It has been 29 years since Claassen completed his last Dusi Canoe Marathon and getting back into the uMsundusi and uMngeni Valleys is something that the former Springbok captain is looking forward to.

“It is a trip down memory lane for me. I did my three Dusis with Gudgie Dixon, the Natal flyhalf in 1983-84, with our last race together being in 1985 and those races were such great experiences for me that the dusi2c will be a great opportunity for me to get back into the Valley and see how much it has changed,” he said.

“It is also a bit of an unknown for me, I have never done such a big race before and so it is different and new which itself is a challenge.”

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