The 2nd leg of the Nissan Trailseeker Series was held in the small, historical town of Cullinan. In earlier days miners rushed to this location to find diamonds, but lately the town rather attracts mountain bikers, outdoor sports enthusiasts and people looking to get away from the rat race.
It was my 3rd time lining up for the Diamond Rush event and with that experience under the belt I thought I knew what to expect, but boy was I wrong?
This year’s 75km event had a completely new route on offer to keep the experience fresh and interesting year on year.
Last year’s hilly course was replaced by a fairly flat route that required constant pressure on the pedals. This made the racing extra tough as there was nowhere to catch your breath and recover from hard efforts.
I had a good start, putting me in the lead position from the opening kilometres of the race. I knew the fast course would favour the likes of An Li Pretorius and Lise Oliver who race mainly on the road. In a way this forced me to concentrate on applying constant pressure to my pedals because the time gaps would be a lot smaller than it would be on a hillier course.
Just after the 2nd water point which was situated around 2/3 into the race, my rear tyre hit a stone whilst I was descending a rocky trail. My tyre deflated on impact but luckily I managed to stay upright. I stopped to assess the situation and was able to inflate the tyre with a CO2 canister. Up until that point I was in the lead but because you are not aware of the riders passing you while fixing a tyre, I didn’t know which position I was in once I got going again.
All that was left for me to do was to put my head down and race as hard as I could to the finish line. This might sound simple, but it’s quite the opposite. Once you have been forced to stop, it’s tricky to get your racing rhythm and mental strength back. When I finally crossed the finish line I was very happy and relieved when I heard the commentators call out my name as the overall ladies winner on the day. It was a hard fought victory and that makes it so much more enjoyable.
My team mate Nicci Grobler had a great ride finishing in 2nd place with Janine Kind rounding out the podium in 3rd place.
The Nissan Trailseeker Diamond Rush event is a favourite of mine. There is something magical about the race that draws me back ever year. The tranquillity of the place, the historic museums and the cosy coffee shops that line the main street all add to the uniqueness of the race. So if you find yourself wondering what to do in the beginning of July, head out to Cullinan for a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find.
1st Yolandi du Toit (bizhub)
2nd Nicci Grobler (bizhub)
3rd Janine King
4th Lise Oliver (VeloLife)