After a season focussed mainly on xc racing I decided to spice things up a bit with some marathons at the tail end of it. Something that sounds great in hindsight but something you really need to gear your training towards in order to be successful.
I haven’t done the Hill 2 Hill since the first edition of the race some 5 years ago and had good memories of it. The race acquires its name from starting in Hilton and finishing in Hillcrest 105km later. It was great also to have Paul, Darryl and Jacques from Cube at the finish as there was an expo there and they had brought a couple of bikes down.
Traditionally the first hour of racing is fast as the race descends from worlds view into Pietermaitzburg on some awesome new trails, the course designers Nick Floros and Kim Phillips had created. I found myself with Mannie Heymans(Garmin Adidas) and Shaun Craig Silver(@ Slab Specialized) as we traversed through the city and managed to join the lead group again. The lead group of twenty or so riders stayed together until the king of the mountain, where Phillip Buys(Garmin Adidas) and Burry Stander(Specialized) split things up. I found myself in 12th position going through the first feed just before 30km.
Things started to settle down and I settled into a pace I thought to be more sustainable for myself over the distance of the race. It seemed to be going well until ten kilometres later where a silly crash on a single track through Wattle trees resulted in me badly bending my rear disc rotor. I didn’t think it was as bad as it actually turned out to be and decided to carry on. The crash also resulted in 3 riders passing me as I gathered myself and I set out trying to catch back up to them. I would close the gap on the climbs and jeep track only to lose advantage as they worked together on the open dirt roads.
My Mom was at the 3rd feed with a fresh bottle of PVM Octane for me and I guzzled it down trying to keep energy levels up. I had however spent too many pennies in my chase and the lights started to go out with still forty kilometres to go, not ideal.
David Leiman(Thule/Morewood) and I teamed up and took it in to the finish together. I was quite disappointed with how things had panned out but took consideration the fact that I had tried to race it out from the front. A risky strategy when racing marathons… My Cube HPC Elite worked flawlessly on the day and handled the tough terrain with ease. My Sludge once again ensured no punctures and the Squirt helped having no shifting or chain suck problems! Also, a big thanks to Ollie at Cycle Lab Pietermaritzburg for servicing my wheels which were awesome on race day!
My focus now shifts to the MTN Hilton Dirt Fest Ultra marathon this coming weekend. One which promises much climbing with a planned 3000m of ascent on the cards in the 100km race.