I have cousins in Cape Town who always welcome me, and whoever is with me to stay with them if we have a race. They were hugely accommodating as I gave them 2 days notice, thanks cuzz’s :P
The Thursday prior to the race began our long journey. Stephan picked me up at 6am, and eventually reached my cousins at 22:00, after getting slightly lost in Cape Town. We were exhausted from the trip, so after introductions and some catching up, we headed straight to bed.
I must have slept ‘til about 9am, it was fantastic! We took a spin around the beautiful suburbs, with a few sprints to loosen up the legs and rested for the rest of the day.
We had to leave for Wellington at 6am to get there in time to enter and get ready. I had flash backs from last year’s race in Wellington when Yolande and I were driving in the dark with pouring rain and howling wind. This year was much more pleasant, it was a sunny cool day without much wind. There was a much bigger field that day than there was at Clarens, I could see that it would be a hard day of racing!!
The race starts on a steep climb and the pace quickly increased. To my surprise, I dropped Catherine Williamson, and then Cherise Taylor. Mariska Strauss, Robyn de Groot, Jenny Stenerhage and Sam Saunders were just ahead. I settled into a steady pace, knowing full well the hard climbs I still had to conquer and down hills that required focus!
The downhills had names like “Roller Coaster” and “Rodeo” and were crazy fun on the Pinarello! The uphills were less fun but also aptly named, like “The Wall”. At about half way through, I saw Catherine closing the gap behind me, nooo! We rode together for a little while and I tried to get away but she is so strong, and dropped me like a rock. I put my head down and tried to not let that get me down, when a few km later Cherise came past.
We played cat and mouse for a while, and worked together on the flat bits, but she too pulled a gap on me eventually. After taking my third High5 energy gel and sipping sparingly on the High5 2:1 in my bottle, I seemed to get a second wave. I reeled her in bit by bit, but she always seemed just out of reach. I didn’t give up and even though my legs were screaming at me, I gave a last push towards the end. She seemed to be sitting up, and when I sprinted past her on the finishing straight, she didn’t respond. Which, I found out later, was because she didn’t realise we were competing for age category. Sorry Cherise J.
I came 6th overall and 1st senior lady.
Stephan had a great first race for the academy, also coming in 6th overall and 5th U23. He too had tough competition against the local Contego team and a strong international rider or two! Overall, we decided that it was worth the mission and long trip, the riding was pheonominal, and we are both doing better in the overall standings, which is where consistency is key!
Next MTN National is in Rooiberg, and inbetween that is Provincial XCO, National XCO, SA Marathon Champs and a USN Cup I think.
Busy busy busy! :D