After a week with plenty of rain and little riding done due to the weather, we were mentally
ready for a slippery weekend on the trails.
Sunday was a nice and fresh morning at the start of the Burger 75km invitational race in Stellenbosch. With about 4000 people lining up to do their various distances we were focused and looking forward to a good day on the bike.
The start kicked off at 8am sharp and with a 1km neutral zone where we could spin the legs loose before the paw-paw hit the fan up the first climb. Johann and myself made sure we were right at the front to hit the climb in top positions. We set quite a good tempo from the bottom of the first hill to shake the bunch a bit and tried to keep that going for as long as we could. It was only Lourens Luus who was able to come with us. Johann, who had done the race before, guided me to what was laying ahead on route and this being my first time riding and racing on the mountain bike in Stellenbosch. After 9km we went up a really steep section of a climb and Johann set a good tempo, we opened a slight gap on Lourens and then tried to keep it steady to maintain the gap.
It was quite far from the finish to just ride away so we knew we had our hands full for the remainder of the race. We worked together on the sections where we were able to, which was quite limited with all the single track and climbing that we did.
After 25km I took a bit of a tumble, going uphill, riding over some hard, compacted mud that was covered in moss while looking back. Luckily my Fizik M3B shoes has some good grip and I got up running with ease to get over and on the pedals again. The Look S-Track pedals we are using held up great in these wet and muddy conditions. We picked up momentum quickly afterwards and kept going,we tried to stay as safe as possible and out of trouble for the remainder of the race.
Getting closer to the finish the reality of getting a one-two on the podium was getting more clear but we never counted our fortunes as we know that a race is never won until you cross the finish line. A few kilometers from the finish line Johann suggested that I can take the victory as a birthday present,which was the day before the race.
It was great experiencing the trails of Stellenbosch and the surroundings. Despite the fact that there were quite a few up hills, all the great single track made up for all the climbing and heavy breathing!
It was an awesome day on the bike finishing first and second overall for Team Telkom. It’s a great feeling having our luck turned around since the first half of the year, being in the top five in the last five races we started, of which two of them were victories and three of them both of us in the top five.
Our Merida team bikes kept up great with the conditions but will definitely get some attention at Bike Addict on Monday morning.
Next up for us with Team Telkom will be the Lost City road race in the North West where we will trade the "Handgemaak" South Industries for the much more stream line road wheels to help our roadie team mates out.
Check out the race route and profile from Sunday’s race on Strava. https://www.strava.com/activities/659371841
Until then, keep the rubber side down.