From the ancient rock formations at Tankwa Trek to the lush green forests of the Sabie Classic, it feels as if I’ve been racing and travelling in two different countries during the last week. We truly are fortunate to live in a country as diverse and extreme as South Africa.
The 2nd leg of the Ashburton Investments Series was held in and around the sleepy little town of Sabie. With the event carrying UCI status it was sure to attract the country’s top riders as well as some internationals seeking to gain UCI points and podium glory.
In a positive change from Meerendal the Elite Ladies started 5 minutes behind the Elite Men’s field but more importantly 5 minutes ahead of the Open Men’s field affording us a chance to race without any interference from the other categories.
The 72km marathon route basically consisted of a 30km climb, followed by a technical descent before a final sting in the tail drained whatever you had left in your legs.
My body felt good on the day but my mind was still battling fatigue from all the racing I’ve done in the last couple of weeks. I found myself not concentrating fully on the job at hand racing more defensively rather than attacking the course.
For a change Sabie was quite dry but even so there are forested sections which never seem to dry completely. These sections made me quite nervous as it is an unpleasant feeling having your bike slide underneath you unexpectedly. Memories of last year’s mud fest at the same race didn’t help my confidence as I remembered how people crashed on straight roads which were as slick as ice.
It only took one proper slide off the trail before I decided to rather limit the risks and get home in one piece. Of course I knew this would cost me some time but sometimes you have to know where to draw the line when mind and body isn’t 100% synchronised. I crossed the line in 6th place not too pleased with my technical performance but at least knowing where I could improve.
Arianne Kleinhans had no such problems and took her 4th consecutive win at the Sabie Classic. She was joined on the podium by Robyn de Groot (2nd) and Jenny Stennerhag (3rd) as a trio of national champions (Swiss, South African and Swedish) stood on the box.
At the moment I’m travelling down to Knysna for the Garden Route 300 three day mountain bike stage race before heading on to Cape Town for the Cape Town Cycle Tour (formerly the ‘The Argus’). I look forward to reporting back about my next adventure from the ocean front.