Mechanicals come with the territory in the world of mountain biking with equipment being pushed to its absolute limit as riders descend loose trails and rip through berms at high speed. Finding the limits and pushing through them are daily occurrences for professional riders the world over, but sometimes the gods of cycling are not in your favour.

 

In last year’s FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz, HB Kruger partnered with, 2016/2017 Belgian XC National Champion, Frans Claes, in a pairing that had many pundits anticipating an even more competitive race with the likes of NAD MTB, DSV PRO CYCLING and Pyga Euro Steel readying their riders for the 3 day event from Lourensford Wine Estate to Onrus.

 

Unfortunately it was not to be, with the duo suffering punctures and mechanical issues that saw their FNB Wines2Whales title hopes slip away. Having raced at the sport’s highest level for a number of years, both HB and Frans were able to push through and finish in 7th place after a troublesome 3 days of racing.

Frans Claes & HB Kruger during stage 2 of the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz. Image by Nick Muzik

We caught up with HB to get his top tips on dealing with mechanicals and what he enjoys most about the race as he switches gears to a more road cycling focus for the future:

 

When it comes to mechanicals, the most common one is definitely a puncture, having suffered my fair share in last year’s race, despite having tubeless tyres, it’s important to know how to fix one. It takes time to learn to correctly plug a wheel, without making an even bigger hole or worse… pinching a new one in the tyre with the tool. Take some time to practice this, it can save you valuable time when done right.

HB Kruger suffering a puncture during stage 1 of the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales.
Image by Nick Muzik

Over the past couple of years on the MTB, I’ve been able to take part in various high profile multi-stage races, it has definitely given me new depth as a rider.

In longer MTB stage races there are certainly no easy days; you can’t relax a bit and ease off the pedals for a day or two like you can on the road. That really forces you to keep pushing the limits all the way to the end and I’ve seen my depth as a rider improve.

I’ve been able to race these top events with world-class athletes and really feel that that resilience learned in MTB will help me in road racing.

Having been introduced to the FNB Wines2Whales by Adriaan Louw back in 2015, the race’s vibe has always been a big draw card for me. Often the SeriousGees isn’t even out on the trails. When South Africa won the Rugby World Cup and all the riders, event staff and families came together in the CBC Chill Zone, regardless of country, religion, race or beliefs, we were all there to celebrate and it really emphasised the words of our beloved Madiba, “sport can unite people”. I will never forget that FNB Wines2Whales moment.