Not for the faint hearted, the 3rd round of the 2017 Enduro World Cross Country (EWXC) series was held last month at Serendipity, about 2.5 hours from Johannesburg. Our OV&P team was there to capture the action with our cutting edge filming gear, including 2 aerial drones to add a spectacular perspective for the riders and supporters to enjoy.
This year, Gary Franks and his Enduro World team set a new course that offered demanding terrain for the competitors to negotiate during the 3 hour test of their riding fitness and skills, as well as their physical and mental tenacity. My good friend and colleague, Chris Duys, was my right hand cameraman, each of us armed with a pro drone and a Panasonic DVX200 4K camera. We recce’d the course together early in the morning to select good vantage points to film from and create a compelling video.
Racing started at 8am with the Pro and Expert classes being the first to blaze a trail through the challenging terrain. The first serious obstacle was about 300 metres in, so Chris covered the start then ran to join me there. It was a steep, rocky, slippery climb which saw riders strewn over every possible line, being helped to manhandle their machines until they reached the top and had a slight breather before tackling the rest of the course. An exhausted rider described it as having been set by someone with sadistic tendencies, namely Igor Baleta and his team, who have earned a reputation for setting awesome but tough courses.
There were some ‘chicken routes’ for less experienced riders, who opt for an easier way around specific obstacles, which takes longer but is less exhausting. Chris and I stuck to the interesting and challenging parts of the course, clambering over rocks and running from one vantage point to the next, toting our cameras and setting up before the riders came through. It’s funny to watch their antics as they approach a camera, either putting on a great show or stopping to chat with us and catch their breath.
Being competitive souls, not too many riders take the easier route, which often results in bottle-necks. This can be very entertaining for spectators and the film crew, watching riders of different skill levels use each other for traction, if necessary, to conquer rocky river beds, steep climbs, water hazards and what seems to be a never-ending roller coaster testing man and machine to their limit. We caught some classic action on camera and with the drones, making dramatic manoeuvres through the trees and rocks to shoot some great tracking and panning shots as the riders negotiated the course. Watch the video below to see for yourself:
Three separate races were held for the different classes, ranging from the Professional and Expert riders to ladies who never cease to amaze their male opponents at how well they ride, all the way down to the youngest riders on their little 65cc and 85cc bikes. They really steal the hearts of the spectators and parents who shout and scream to encourage these little tigers, our future champions. At the end of a hot and well organised day of racing, we filmed the top 6 riders in each class being awarded their trophies at the prize-giving, happily celebrating their achievements to cheering from their rivals and spectators alike. After the formal proceedings, the story-telling and banter began amongst this tightly knit community of athletes comparing stories, hardships and experiences.
It was gratifying to be included in the banter, sharing our day of filming and running around like headless chickens to get everything covered. As the sun set, everyone loaded their battered bikes onto trailers and headed home for a relaxing evening before returning to the hustle and bustle of Jozi on Monday. Since my own racing days seem to be over, this is a great way for me to stay involved and give something back to a sport that has been such a huge part of my life. Well done to the organisers for yet another successful leg of the EWXC Championship which will definitely be the talking point until the next race. We hope to be there to capture the action!