My 2015 racing season got underway at the first round of the USN Cup Series on Saturday 24 January. This Gauteng based series consists of 6 events spread across the year with the final round only taking place in October.
Situated a mere 15 min drives from Centurion, the Big Red Barn was the venue for the opening round. The trails at this antique barn consists mainly of single track laid out in a 20 acre Eucalyptus forest. This makes for quite scenic riding in the middle of Gauteng and it was a treat meandering around the big trees while racing a strong ladies field.
Everything seemed to work out perfectly on the day. The 1200-rider field was blessed with ideal weather conditions, a well organised event and outstanding route markings to navigate the course.
Riders gathered under the start/finish banner well before the 7:30 am start and it was comforting to see it wasn’t only me fighting off some pre-race nerves. When the starters gun released the first batch of riders onto the 50km route, with it went the butterflies in my stomach and I could finally focus on the racing.
I had my work cut out for me in the form of current Under 23 cross country champion Ashleigh Moffat Parker and multiple national champion Yolande Speedy to name but a few. The relatively short and technical course was more suited to a cross country style rider, but with the first third of the race containing the most ascent I used it to my advantage to pry open a small lead.
On the following flat, snaking trails I felt like prey being stalked on the predator’s territory. I quickly realised all I could do was to focus on riding smooth lines and pushing hard on the pedals.
This tactic proved to ‘save my life’ and a wave of relief washed over me as I finally spotted the finish line after 2 hours of racing. I had managed to outrun my predators and take victory at the first leg in the USN Cup Series ahead of rising talent Genevieve Coller with Liesl Lourens rounding out the podium in 3rd place.
My racing for the weekend didn’t end there as I took to the start line of The Fast One road race the following day. With the race taking place in a neighbouring town and offering safer, semi-closed roads to ride on, it only made sense to participate. I finished the 98km race in the ladies main bunch happy to have ridden on tar roads without having to worry about passing vehicles for change.
It is nice to be back in the rhythm of racing and I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the 2015 season.