Nissan Trailseerker – Grabouw
Just before I get to my race impressions… I have said it before but it’s been a good 6 months racing with lots of positives. We started off jokingly hashtagging BikesandBeers in social media posts. It’s easy to identify with it as a mountain biker I think. The nice thing is that it’s been catching onto some people supporting the races and it is not uncommon to hear someone shout during a race: “Bikes and Beers!”
We started the race at a very cold minus 5 degrees! It was really harsh for me and I am definitely not at my best at minus something degree temperatures. But it was race on and no excuses would matter.
As with most marathon races the stronger riders stayed together for the first few kilometers. A group of about ten riders were still together after more than 30 minutes of racing. I was feeling ok but the cold definitely affected my legs.
I think it was Gert Heyns who started pushing the pace and caused the bunch of about ten riders to split up. Matthys Beukes, Matt Beers and Waylon Woolcock were the only one’s who could follow. I pushed hard and was about a minute off them on my own.
I got a flat which I could fix fairly quick and did not loose much time but the chasing bunch did catch up with me and I rode with them for a short while. Then I got another flat and struggled a bit with it as the valve was blocked.
Quite a few riders passed me and when I got back on the bike I had this feeling…. Race over for a good position today. I did not give up at all but that intensity of racing for a top spot was just not there.
The tempo I was riding must have been better than I thought at the moment as I started catching the guys who maybe went out too hard early on. As always passing riders makes you feel good and I was starting to push harder again. Catching riders and then go hard immediately as I passed them.
After passing a few riders I saw Dominic Calitz ahead of me and realized that a top 5 position was up for grabs which was definitely worth fighting for. I was feeling pretty good at this stage and caught and passed Dominic about 5 kilometers from the finish to cross the line in fifth place.
Later on we heard that Matthys and Gert, who were at the front and the strongest riders on the day, took a wrong turn and were disqualified. The result was that Waylon and myself moved up onto the podium with Matt 1st, Waylon 2nd and myself 3rd.