With my bike loaded, a coffee in hand and the sounds of U2 blasting over my car sound system, I was on my way to the Swartland Mountain Bike marathon, bright and early on Saturday morning. Although it was a great sunny day, there was still a lot of snow on the Swartland Mountains lining the N7, which meant temperatures remained on the chilly side.
I arrived at the Org de Rac wine estate and after quickly registering and suiting up I was on the start line, sans arm warmers…. Shivering… Hard core, or stupid? Anyway, we were on our way, and not long in Greig Knox (UCT-Private Client Holdings), Chris Botha (Cycle Lab) and I had managed to separate ourselves from the rest.
We rolled well together until we approached the infamous Koringberg for the first time. The first ascent up the mountain goes up loose along rocky jeep tracks. The climb kicks and then flattens out repeatedly to the summit. It was here that Grieg and I rode away from Chris. Towards the summit Greig managed to ride away from me and held about a 30 second gap.
The steep and fairly technical descent then awaited us. I could see Greig just ahead of me and took a few risks going down to try and close the gap. Unfortunately for Greig, he punctured near the bottom and I passed him and went into the lead.
I set about riding a good hard tempo but also without overcooking it, as there was still a good 50km’s of racing ahead. I half expected Greig to ride back to me, but he didn’t.
Koringberg presents itself for the second time at the latter stages of the race. The second ascent is somewhat shorter than the first but it’s much steeper, so knowing this I popped a PVM Octane Gel down my gullet to keep the energy levels up.
I managed to get up fine (ie. suffering like a dog). With my lead still intact, I approached the last very technical downhill, somewhat more cautiously as to not risk puncturing. The last 15km were tough! With a number of rolling hills, which are actually a bit more than what one would expect, with some kicking up some steep gradients sky ward.
I had done enough and come across the line first, after a tough sting in the tail. It felt great to win again, my first in a good few months! It was also my first win aboard my Black Spade Racing 29er hard tail, and in the colours of my new sponsors, Asrin. Thanks for the belief in me guys and let’s hope this is the first of many to come!
It was then back to Cape Town for Bono and I, to try and recover as much as possible for the next day’s race at Grabouw, the Oude Moelen Mountain Bike Classic. Blog to come soon!