I was prepared and strangely excited for a rainy day at the Cradle Mountain Trophy, I love the riding out there and the rain and mud would just add to the challenge! However, waking up to the sound of torrential rain, I poked a toe out from under the blanket and quickly retracted it. It was freezing!! I would be lying if I said that curling back up into bed didn't cross my mind a couple of times. But no, I said I would do the race and I knew I would enjoy it once I was out there, so I dragged myself out of bed and phoned my friend Michelle awake. We were going to do this! The drive along the N14 was treacherous, we had to leave at 5 30am and it was pitch dark for the entire drive, the rain was still pelting down and the roads were full of aqua planes that couldn't be seen. Eventually we arrived at Maropeng, the sun had come up and rain died down, but it was still freezing cold. I heard that the start had been postponed ‘till 8, maybe the rain would clear up by then. A lot of people who made it to the race changed their mind and went back home, what ever happened to HTFU?
Day 1 was cancelled anyway due to overflowing rivers, not even the support vehicles could cross them. I was really disappointed that it we weren't going to race, I was all psyched!! Chatting to Rob Jackson from Leverage Corporation and the other race organisers, they were getting ready for the trail run and needed a lead mountain biker. “Amy will do it! She’s crazy enough.” Couldn’t argue with them there. I’ll do it! May as well, I was all dressed with nowhere to go and this would be fun, something out of the ordinary and at least I’d get to ride!
Michelle volunteered to ride as the sweeper for the 8km, soon after we agreed to this the rain started full force again and we were shaking with cold. An impressive die hard bunch of 50 runners gathered under the start gazebo. There were two distances, 8km and 16km (2 laps). All I had to do was ride ahead of the leader and follow the blue arrows, easy enough! Luckily the leading guy was so fast, he won by miles and even had some breath to chat, we finished in 1:10 minutes but they needed a sweeper for the rest of the 16km runners, so off I went again, lap 3, caught up to the last runner / walker and kept him company till the end, turns out he is an Epic Sports club member and keen mtber. I must say, I haven’t been that cold in ages and a hot shower, lunch at Papachinos and nap was the best thing ever!
Leverage Corporation made the best compromise they could for us, postponed the 75km for the 2 day riders till Sunday and kept the 45km for the 1 day racers. I was happy we at least got to do the 75km.
Sunday morning was nippy and shrouded in mist but soon cleared up and turned out to be a stunner of a day! The neutral zone was a long stretch of tar road, finally we turned onto a dirt district road where the pace went up and the small lead group consisting of Lourens Luus, Henry Uys and a few other guys disappeared into the distance. I kept a comfortable pace, 75km in Magaliesberg is not to be underestimated! I made sure to start eating and drinking my High 5 early on to avoid bonking. After a super fast start on the district road, we headed into some awesome single track with river crossings and a portage section over a bridge crossing a river. My Sidi cycling shoes were wet and muddy, so I had to tread carefully carrying my Pinarello Dogma XC over the slippery bridge and onto a cement wall which had a massive gap in it, most people could probably step over it but short legs me had to hold my breath and jump across, bike in hand. Phew, made it! I scrambled up the muddy rocky uphill that followed and got back into a rhythm through some more single track and had to portage up a section of another rocky climb as my muddy tyres slipped out from under me.
At about 49km in, I saw an arrow pointing down a small road off the district road we were on , it didn’t seem right but I went down anyway. I carried on for a km or 2 and when I saw no one behind or ahead of me I turned back, uphill the whole way. At the split, there was another confused cyclist, not sure what to do, we waited and got passed by a guy who told us not to go left but carry on straight. I was super frustrated at all the time I had lost but I was still winning luckily. After the race I heard that loads of people made the same wrong turn, due to a badly placed arrow. That was comforting; I wasn’t going completely mad ;).
I was happy to cross the line in 1st place. The route had a great mixture of single track, river crossing, challenging technical sections, rocks, mud and fast district roads. My Pinarello is looking forward to a good TLC session with the trusty mechanics at Epic Sports!
Overall I really enjoyed the weekend, the Leverage Corporation sure know how to run an event! The running race was an interesting experience and, if anything, makes for a good story J. The mountain bike race was just amazing, riding the Pinarello is dreamy :D.
Next up is Clarens, yiesh! Until then, later!