Thursday, 15 November 2012

Great End to a Roller Coaster year!

It was almost a week after Bridge Cape Pioneer before I pedalled my GT again, joining @PCordesracing for our usual Friday coffee ride to Bicccs and losening up my legs for the final @USNSA MTB Cup to be held the following day.

@USNSA MTB Cup #5 Red Barn

I felt the familiar feeling of post stage racing legs when after a fast start of the 50km marathon my legs seemed to 'miss-fire' and I felt like I was pedalling with the brakes on. 
Amy having had a late start cruised past me on her new little bike with big wheels as if I was standing still and having no answer I took in some Vooma Gel to kick start my engine. Fortunately this and a stern talking to myself did the trick and I was now able to chase hard keeping smooth through the new single-track sections and hoping to make back some time.
It was only enough to hold on for 2nd but happily not too far off the pace. Congrats Amy for taking the win!
Thanks @USNSA for such a well organised and super fun marathon series on our door step! I look forward to taking part in it again next year.

Nissan Trailseeker #5 Hakahana

Another week, a revitalising sports massage from @DimensionSport and I was ready to take on the last Nissan Trailseeker for the year.
This was held at a new venue, Hakahana and I must commend Advendurance and the trail organisers on a fantastic route with great technical single-track, super steep climbs and lots of potential for the future!
Sadly Theressa Ralph crashed out in the beginning kilometers leaving myself and Yolandi Du Toit to battle it out for the win. I wish her Simon and Sean a Speedy recovery!

Yolandi took the lead on the first climb and we had quite a cat and mouse chase until the final technical 30kms where I managed to pull into the lead. I crossed the line in 1st happy to take the win and that my legs were finally feeling recovered.

Nissan Trailseeker ladies podium oh and very bad tan!

Another great MTB Marathon series, thanks @mtbseries and @advendurance! Keen to see what you have in store for us next year :)

W2W 2012

Another week of intended time off the bike changed to a pre-race taper week as I prepared for my final event of the year, the 3 day Contego Wines to Whales stage race.

This would be my first W2W and I was really looking forward to the promise of all the single track and technical riding it had to offer as well as my new partnership with Hanlie Booyens as the Momentum Specialised insurance ladies team for the event.

Team Momentun Specialised Insurance ladies

I left for Cape Town on Thursday arriving late afternoon after a couple of flight delays, Hanlie collected me from the airport, we drove to Lourensford and registered then drove to her house in Stellenbosch. I reassembled my GT which @PCordesracing had carefully packed the night before and did our final race preparation., With bags packed we loaded the car for the mornings early start, had a good meal and discussed our race strategy which went something like this: "Let's just ride to have fun without any expectations!" and headed for bed.

Stage 1 - lourensford to Oak Valley 77km, 2300m asc

Now one thing we didn't factor into our race strategy is that we are BOTH highly competitive. Bearing that in mind this is how our race unfolded...

We lined up at the start with me on my GT Zaskar 29er and Hanlie on her 26 Merida which she had recently converted to 27.5 and were excited to get on our way.
After stressing that she would be the one under pressure from the gun it was Hanlie that had to wait for me up the first long climb of the day. Fortunately I soon rode off my 'travel' legs and we started to reel in the riders up ahead.
We passed Cherise and Mariske having stopped to sort out a slight technical problem and I was sure they would be back on our tails soon enough.
We settled into a hard but steady pace and heading up the 2nd big climb we had Ischen and Catherine in our sights, game on...
Passing them on the next flat section where they had stopped to fix a side wall cut it was hard to believe we were now leading the race. We stopped at the 2nd water point to quickly fill our bottles and raced on.
Hanlie set a good pace on the single track climb up Hans se kop and soon we were cruising down some of the most amazing new single-track and our nirvana only interrupted for a few short sections where we were held up by a few slower riders.

Gantouw Pass portage

Reaching the compulsory portage over Gantouws Pass where we alternated between carrying and pushing our bikes up the steep, rocky climb! I had to keep Hanlie in check as despite strict instructions from her Physio that she was not allowed to run due to her knee op she insisted on breaking into a 'high cadence walk'

Big Dipper over Eikenhof Dam

Gratefully getting back on our bikes and with a nice lead we settled back into our steady pace enjoying the section over the Big Dipper wooden bridge on Eikenhof dam and crossing the finish line very happy to take the win and with a 9:24 minute lead on Bizhub's Ischen and Catherine and 23:15minutes on Contego's Mariske and Cherise.

Now we knew there was no turning back, we were in this race and needed to focus properly on our recovery for the next day.
After replenishing our initial thirst in the rehydration tent we quickly sprayed down our bikes, collected our bags and found our tents. We pulled out our pre-packed shower bags (you can tell we are old hats in this game), had our recovery drinks my @USNSA Recovermax going down well, showered, headed to the lunch tent where we were impressed to see a good healthy spread laid out by Food Lovers market and Fair Cape.Afterwards we went for our massage and apart from a short interruption to give our race machines some TLC and prepping our chains with Squirt spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing on our mattresses along with most of the campsite.

Dinner was good and prize giving entertaining with Paul Valstar providing us with some comic relief and funny stories of the day.

Race village for the 2 nights as I found out after packing
my bags the morning before stage 2 #blondemoment !!

Stage 2 - Oak Valley to Oak Valley 65km, 1175m asc

The start led riders along kms of gravel roads with short power climbs allowing the bunch to split up before going into the first single-track.

We pushed hard sticking with Team Contego and Bizhub also trying to stick to the front of the group so we could get into the single track first. This clearly being everyone's strategy made for a super hard and fast pace.
Finally reaching the single-track we thought the pace would slack off a bit but it was too smooth and flowing so felt like everyone was going full gas. We rode together with Contego having formed a slight gap on Bizhub and after about 10kms we decided to drop our pace a bit and let Contego take the lead. Shortly after this and with them still in our sights I took a corner onto a gravel road too fast, almost saved it but then hooked my bar on some bushes and before I knew what hit me was lying on the ground disconnected from my bike. Fortunately the crash looked worse than it felt and after Hanlie found my glasses and I had 'reassembled' my helmet as best I could we were on our way chasing Bizhub who had passed us in the process.

We caught and passed them but they were hot on our tail and although we thoroughly enjoyed the amazing single-track through Lebanon we could not relax for a second. We spent the remainder of the race sandwiched between Contego who we were slowly gaining on and Bizhub chasing from behind.
We crossed the line just over a minute behind Contego and just under 2min ahead of Bizhub admittedly feeling the hard days racing!

The remainder of our day closely resembled the previous as we spent it getting in as much recovery as possible.

Stage 3 - Oak Valley to OnRus campsite 76km, 1338m asc

With 22minutes lead over Contego and 11:14 on Bizhub we lined up at the start for the final stage.
The start was crazy fast and after sticking with Contego for the first few kilometres we decided to rather settle into a slightly more comfortable pace, let the youngsters go and ride together with Bizhub who would be working hard to hold onto their 2nd place.
Although mostly downhill for the first 45kms we often found ourselves together with Bizhub fighting a crazy strong headwind.
After stopping to fill our bottles at water point 2 we pulled ahead of Bizhub and stretched our lead to the finish giving everything we had left on the last climb and enjoying the last 10kms of flowing downhill single track and onto the final stretch of wooden pallets along the beach.
Crossing the finish line we were super happy to take the overall win having thoroughly enjoyed the 3 days of racing!! Ischen and catherine held on to their 2nd place, Mariske and Cherise wining the last stage and taking 3rd overall.

Overall women's podium W2W

Thanks so much to Hanlie for an awesome partnership and great 3 days of racing!

To Rikus and Momentum Specialised Insurance for sponsoring our entry

And all my sponsors @EpicCycleShop #GT @USNSA @CycleOps_jhb @asg_PYCycling Squirt Continental Giro Rudy Project making it possible for me to race on such a competitive level

This was my last race for the year so that's all for 2012, looking forward to an exciting 2013 season!

Till then,