I write this from Durban, where I am doing some key meetings and having a bit of R&R from Triple Challenge, which happened on Saturday. A while back the Housemate offered some voyager miles as a birthday gift, and I couldn’t resist.
I had no idea what I was in for, and didn’t have a mountain bike at that point. But committed I was.
I have diligently been going about eating right, training smart and after a hectique week I was without much hope of a personal best race performance.
I went twice in the week to see Line Griffiths (more on her later) who applied healing hands on my tired legs after 4 weeks of hammering away at the best block of ME work I had ever done. We flew in on Saturday and saw Max at the race. People were all so grateful that 2 capetonians had made the trip to come race here in KZN.
Race morning started at 3am.
We were racking bikes by 4:30 and at the start to watch Dan Hugo and the paddlers go off. He smoked his race, by the way, 4th year in a row. The boy is looking lean, mean and certainly proved it again on Sunday where it mattered – out on the course.
Anyhow, back to my race. I took off conservatively and placed a heart rate cap on the first, 20.5km trail run. I didn’t want to be hurting too much later in the day, and wanted to be able to focus in the technical stuff on the bike, this being my 4th mountain bike ride ever.
Some guys took off up the long drag but I stuck to my guns and let them go, keeping my HR in check and actually letting it drop a little before the start of the bike. I handed car keys to my aunt and headed off on the bike after an almighty long transition.
With some cramps. Running trail is something I have not done in a while and my muscles thanked me with some cramps in my calves early in the bike. I was however, flying low. I was onto the bike 6th, and was in 3rd by about 6km. I was in 2nd by about 10km. By 20km I took the lead.
I have to add that I have never ever taken the lead in any race, on the bike. traditionally my weakest link, today it proved to be my weapon. I had to get off twice to stretch the cramps, but maintained the lead.
My skills on the day were being boosted by having a prototype Morewood Zula in my arsenal. The bike was phenomenal. Unreal and kudos to Morewood for helping me out.
My navigation skills, however, were terrible and I misread one of the buntings and went off in the wrong direction, having to ride another big hill and losing 5 minutes in the process. Panic stations and I belted down the hill at around 70km/h jumping over rocks and risking life and limb. I fell twice but got up and kept pedaling as hard as I could.
I got to T2 and was shouting for my aunt, as she had my shoes.
She was not there, and neither were my shoes. My tummy dropped. My heart sank. I started asking spectators for shoes to loan. Minutes went by. Finally a guy offered his size 13 shoes to me, and I took them without thinking about it for a second. I took off, mickey mouse feet and all, being a size 10. It hurt and blisters were almost instantly there. I cramped again. Stopped, had to stretch no less than 4 times.
When I came out the bush to see the finish it was a huge relief. I had 2min after all that. It must have been super close, as I saw Bertus about 30sec behind me onto the run.
It was truly an amazing event and I will without a doubt, be back to race, and defend my title, in years to come.
An emotional race, but a very satisfactory result.