Pietermaritzburg – Finding the back of the net came with ease for former Bafana Bafana striker George Koumantarakis during his playing days but the upcoming dusi2c mountain bike race will offer him a debut of a different kind when the race starts on 10 June.
The dusi2c is a two-day mountain bike stage race that takes riders from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Blue Lagoon in Durban along a route through the Valley of a Thousand Hills. The route takes riders along trails that run closely alongside the Msundusi and Mngeni Rivers to the ocean that mirrors the route used for the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon.
The former Manning Rangers, Amazulu and FC Basel front-man has continued to stay in good shape following the end of his playing days in 2006 but mountain biking has become a recent obsession for the 43 year-old.
“This is going to be my first ever mountain bike race!” Koumantarakis mentioned.
“I only started riding a mountain bike about four months ago and my brother suggested that we ride the dusi2c as my first race.
“He is a really experienced rider and so I thought it would be a good place to start and I have only heard good things about the race so I am looking forward to the challenge.
“One of my friends has ridden the race in the past and he suggested that I ride this race as my first.
“The single-track riding has taken a bit of time to get used to but my brother is the experienced one so he will be there to help along the way.
“I have been riding quite a bit at the Hola Trails and have taken a couple of tumbles. I not too nervous, more excited for the race next weekend.”
Koumantarakis is no stranger to endurance sports having taken part in a number of triathlons and the like since the end of his playing days but the competitive nature of sport doesn’t necessarily appeal to him as much.
“I try and stay as healthy as I possibly can and I have taken quite a philosophical view on training since I retired from football.
“It is important for me to maintain my body and my fitness levels without pushing my body to the limits as I don’t want to put anymore strain on my body!
“I like to take part in more sociable events,” he mentioned. “My body took an absolute beating during my playing days so I like to take it a little bit easier.
Despite being away from professional football for the better part of a decade Koumantarakis still plays football.
“I play in an over-35’s league and we train once a week and then play on weekends so I also use that to keep fit and active.”
The dusi2c starts at the Natal Canoe Club on the banks of the Msundusi River in Pietermaritzburg on June 10, the same place the FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon starts every year. The second stage takes riders from the overnight stop at Mfula Store, deep in the Valley of 1 000 Hills, to Durban’s Blue Lagoon on June 11.