Saturday morning dawned with sunny skies as Erik and I hit the road to Backsberg Winery, the venue host of the Paarl Rotary 2010 mountain bike race. Being 20km out of town this gave us a nice warm up. As anyone who has raced in the Cape in winter will tell you that mud can be a real problem and what I thought was a light drizzle the day before had turned the course into a small mud bath.
The race started off at a gentle pace with Adriaan Louw and Louis Bressler Knipe upping the tempo and soon riding away. I was sitting happily in a bunch of 3 of us in 3rd, 4th and 5th position knowing that the big climb of the day would soon be upon us. The climb to the top of Kannonkop is a beast! I didn’t expect the race to take us to the top but it did climbing 800m in 6km. I was quite shattered at the top going over in 6th position and not feeling my best.
We started descending on heavily technical single track which was actually a portage section it was so steep and then down a jeep track for the next few kilometres with sketchy slippery corners, as clay does with a touch of rain. On the descent Harry Orr caught me and opened a small gap which I couldn’t close on the next albeit shorter climb.
The unique thing about this race is the compulsory 10 minute stop after 24km which doesn’t sound far in but it is after 1100m of climbing. Some people enjoy the short break but others don’t as you start the next part of the race on cold legs.
I slugged on to the finish not having the best of days. Five km from the finish coming around a corner in a vine yard my foot caught on some wire sticking out of the ground which brought me to an abrupt halt, luckily I had a soft enough landing on some kikuyu but now all I wanted was to cross the finish line and did so in 7th, although I was quite disappointed, all in all it wasn’t too bad.