The second instalment of the annual Crank Chaos, saw 150 riders flock to the Afriski Mountain Resort, located high above sea level in the magical Kingdom of Lesotho.
The four day long event consisted of multiple disciplines spread out over the weekend, catering to all kinds of riding and bikes. One of the main attractions of the event is the use of the ski lift, allowing riders to ascend the main climb without a single pedal stroke. With the altitude meter peeking at 3222m above sea level, this is an absolutely vital factor as even the most basic task puts you (especially living by the coast) out of breath. It also allows for multiple runs in a short span of time, putting the stoke at an all-time high. From the top of the ski lift, riders have the option of three enduro stages and four downhill lines, each with their own flavour, and varying technical challenges.
Next level scenery and a rather eventful drive in to Lesotho. Thanks for the lift Mikey!
Thursday evening saw the night time dual slalom race take place under floodlights. Standard rules applied with two riders racing to the bottom, with the slower of the two getting knocked out. The icy night-time temperatures, off-camber turns and sometimes extremely dimly lit corners made for some interesting riding, but everybody miraculously kept things rubber side down. Theo Erlangsen dropped the hammer from the start and kept the winning runs coming all the way to the end to take the top spot. Second place was claimed by Roman Kumpers, followed by Matt Minter in third.
Left: Jasper Barrett winning juniors. Right: Beanie Thies 1st and Nikki Alvin 2nd.
Theo Erlangsen 1st, Roman Kumpers 2nd and Matt Minter looking up in awe of his mountain biking heroes in 3rd.
Friday’s racing consisted of two disciplines. First off was the XCO eliminator, with lycra-clad riders racing around a very steep and short 400m long gravel track. The track weaved it’s way around the dam and between buildings with the top two of each heat progressing. Wessel Botha took the honours with Armand du Toit and Albert Moffat in 2nd and 3rd respectively. The women's XCO saw Marli van Eeden take top spot with Henike Wielputz and Yolandi Steyn in 2nd and 3rd.
The much anticipated Enduro kicked off at 2 pm and 40 odd riders made their way to the top of the slope to race in arguably one of the best Enduro events of the year. Three super fun and very well built trails faced the riders, with the last stage finishing down by the river for a pop-up party with ice cold beers, Red Bulls, and some boerie rolls. The day belonged to Theo Erlangsen as he put in three flawless runs in a total time of 12:23, making it two for two. The fastest female down the hill was Beanie Thies with a total time of 15:09. The men’s podium was rounded off by Martin Zietsman and Robert Frost, with Louise Kotze and Sonja Engelbrecht taking 2nd and 3rd in the women’s race.
Travis Hesom on the mic all weekend doing a stellar job as MC. Enduro briefing underway.
Really, really cool to be able to go to a country I’ve never been before. It was so cool to have everybody together in that little Afriski Valley, and just be able to ride with your mates the whole day, using the ski lift. It’s not often that we get that opportunity in South Africa. Generally a very fun atmosphere, especially staying with all your mates and just ride with them all day. I was really surprised about how good the Enduro was - probably one of the best I’ve ever raced. All of the trails were really good, which was also surprising as I didn’t know anyone in Lesotho even did mountain biking. Overall, a really nice atmosphere and well-run event.
Theo Erlangsen | 1st Enduro
Luke Meyer sending it down SS3. Thanks for hooking me up with some wheels for the weekend!
The event organisation was really good. The trails were good. So was the restaurant and the food. The lift really got the job done so you could get a lot of runs in. The dual slalom was really good, except that I got Theo first round and got eliminated. The downhill format is a nice idea and more exciting for spectators than a timed race, but they need to rethink it a bit to make it fairer. The enduro was definitely my favourite event. All three trails were really fun, which is like the first enduro that’s ever happened to me. And minimal pedalling to get there, which was pretty good as well. Stages were a decent length, not too much pedalling, and nice technical sections as well. Overall, a really good weekend.
Riders lining up at the start of SS3.
The weekend was incredibly amazing. It was so much fun, and everybody loved it. A big thanks has to go to Max for getting me there, and also to the sponsors for all the prizes. Then to my friends that made it such a fun and enjoyable weekend. The trails were fantastic and a big shout out has to go the crew at Afriski for making it so amazing.
Beanie Thies | 1st Enduro female
Justin Novella showering Theo Erlangsen with some beer and getting thing started for the evening.
Jasper Barrett 1st, Kyle Brand 2nd and Ike Klaasen (absent) 3rd.
Beani Thies 1st, Louise Kotze 2nd and Sonja Engelbrecht 3rd.
Theo Erlangsen 1st, Martin Zietsman 2nd and Robert Frost 3rd.
The final event of the weekend saw a slightly adapted version of the usual Downhill format. Four riders would start simultaneously on 4 different DH lines, and the first across the line would take it. No timing or seeding runs as per the usual case. As to be expected with 4 different tracks though, there were differences that affected the duration and outcome per line. This did spark the debate of accuracy, but with the nature of the Crank Chaos event a more relaxed and less serious one, everyone got on with it. Riders drew names from a hat that determined the lines on which they raced, and the top two from each heat progressed to the next. In the end, Frank Meyer claimed top spot with Martin Zietsman and Barry Futter in 2nd and 3rd respectively. The women’s podium consisted of Beani Thies followed by Nikki Alvin and Louise Kotze. The juniors podium consisted Jasper Barrett in 1st, Ike Klaassen in 2nd and Kyle Brand in 3rd.
Ski lift for the win!
Drawing names from a hat to see which rider races which line.
I’m totally stoked about this event and I will definitely go again. The fact that you can get uplifts and uplifts is definitely special, and something that I’ve missed. The trails are awesome and its super scenic and the event overall is super social and interactive. It’s not like racing were there is usually very serious vibe. I loved the jumps and I’m really stoked that I could ride them all!
One more lift to the top as ominous thunder clouds gather in the background.
Left: Jasper Barrett 1st, Ike Klaassen 2nd and Kyle Brand 3rd. Right: Beani Thies 1st, Nikki Alvin 2nd and Louise Kotze 3rd.
Frank Meyer 1st, Martin Zietsman 2nd and Barry Futter 3rd.
Crank Chaos 2017 was a huge success, from a rider as well as an organiser’s perspective. Everyone was very happy with the event, and we definitely saw an increase in numbers from last year for the riders as well as the spectators, which is great to see. The riding this year was of a very high standard, although it is more of a fun event. Some serious racing on the downhill eliminator with some bar bashing and guys going big - I think it was definitely one of the favourites this year. We’re going to just build on it for next year, and try to make it bigger and better, get more riders involved and try to get more international riders at the event.
Party time as Crank Chaos 2017 draws to a close.
Full race gallery can be found here. Be sure to get your photo!
A massive thank you must go out to all the sponsors involved with the 2017 Crank Chaos. A whopping R80 000 worth of prizes and goodies from FOX, International Trade, Skull Candy, Motorex, Evoc, Pure Nutrition, Oakley, Csixx, and Ogio were up for grabs. Without sponsors like these, this event would not have been possible.
We hope to see you again next year. Let's get the numbers up and make this event bigger and better!