The cold front that made its way across central Gauteng this past weekend arrived just in time for the 3rd leg of the Nissan Trailseeker series. True to its name, it is a winter series and the weather wasn’t going to let us have it any other way.
The Nissan TrailSeeker series consists out of 5 events all held in the province of Gauteng and this particular event took place at the Curro College in the East of Pretoria.
Due to other race commitments, I missed out on the first two races in the series and for this reason I was excited and nervous to line up for my first TrailSeeker event this year. I tend to get a bit nervous for these races as the flat and fast courses don’t always suit my riding style, but at least you’ll always be guaranteed of a good route and tough competition.
The 70km marathon included a total of 690 m of climbing and consisted mainly of open district routes with a couple of single track sections thrown in here and there to spice things up. The Advendurance Team goes to great lengths to find and build trails for their events and at this race they’ve built a new 1,3km single track climb over one of Pretoria’s many koppies. After riding this much publicized section, I understood what the hype was all about as it turned out to be my favourite section in the race.
The ladies field had their own start and was set off 5 min after the elite men at 7:35am sharp. The first couple of kilometres took us out on some flowing jeep track. Barely 10km into the race Vanessa Bell (Bell’s Cycling) was taken out by a tree branch. She fell quite hard but bravely picked herself up and continued racing. Her crash saw three girls (Robyn de Groot, Lise Olivier and Adrienne Moolman) left out in front while the rest of us, who were caught behind the crash, had some chasing to do. I made contact with the 3 leaders just before we turned onto a piece of single track and on exiting this section we were only 3 girls left at the front of the race. With 55km remaining, the lead trio now consisted out of Robyn, Lise and myself.
Around kilometre 20 we rode up to 3 guys that had been dropped in the elite race and we all struggled to get past them on a narrow single track section. Robyn was the first to make her way around them and by the time I came around, Robyn had opened a small gap. Lise and I tried to close Robyn down and on a slight drag leading us to the famous 1,3km climb I managed to drop Lise but still couldn’t close the gap to Robyn.
From there on it was a lonely ride for all three of us to the finish line, with only the wind keeping us company as we chased each other in individual time trial mode.
Robyn de Groot pried open a solid lead showing that she was the deserving winner on the day. I finished in 2nd place and Lise Oliver in 3rd place. Vanessa Bell put in a courageous ride to finish in a well-deserving 4th place after her early tumble.
Thanks to Nissan Trailseeker for putting on great events in the middle of Gauteng and also bettering the routes year after year. I look forward to racing over more Pretoria koppies in the future 🙂