Being a professional mountain biker our weekends mostly involve racing and the travelling that comes with it. We rarely get time to catch up with friends and family but when the odd “off” weekend surfaces, we make an effort to spend our time with the people close to us.
For the last 2 months my dad has been asking me to please let him know when I have a free weekend as he would like me to participate in his local mountain bike race. This past weekend I didn’t have any racing obligations and so hit the road to my hometown of Riebeeckstad, situated on the flatlands of the Free State.
On Friday afternoon my dad was adamant to give me a preview of the course and we went on a scouting ride checking out Saturday’s race course. I was pleasantly surprised to find a well designed course filled with hand built obstacles and some fast, sweeping singletrack.
On race day I was even more amazed when I arrived at the race; the event organisers, who built the trails themselves put so much effort into hosting the event that I actually felt guilty just showing up to enjoy their hard work. The venue was professionally hosted and the trails even received a water dousing in preparation of the race. The race might have started off fairly small but with all the effort the organisers put into staging the event, it can only grow in the future.
My biggest competitor on the day was of course my dad. We’ve been racing against and with each other since I was 12 years old and this time around would be no different. The 70km marathon event consisted of 6 laps, each 10km long with a short opening lap at the beginning to split up the field before heading onto the more technical segments. The entire course was laid out on single track with small sections here and there making it possible to pass fellow riders.
After the opening lap I found myself riding alongside my dad in 3rd and 4th place overall. On lap one and two we had a local young man for company but the technical terrain and distance proved to be too much for him and he lost contact with us. My dad and I stuck together from the beginning to the very end giving him a 3rd place overall finish and me 1st place in the woman’s category.
To say that I was impressed by my dad’s riding would be an understatement. He is still as strong as I remember, so much fun to be around as ever and has bike handling skills which made me look like a beginner. Luckily I have his genes (or at least that is what I am telling myself) and still have all my good years ahead of me.