Southern Tropical Challenge presented by Lux Resorts
We have given up on the idea of convincing people that the Southern Tropical Challenge is a tough race requiring the usual fitness, strength and focus to do well. One mention that the race takes place in Mauritius and images of white beaches, warm ocean swims and cocktail sundowners are evoked and no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince anyone otherwise.
Contrary to these romantic conjurations racing your mountain bike on a volcanic island comes with some distinct challenges. Insanely steep climbs, jagged rock surfaces and slippery downhills are all part and parcel of the event creating quite a unique test.
Now in its 8th year the Southern Tropical Challenge (STC) has developed into a well organised event centred on the Lux Resort Tamassa Hotel. Most participants stayed in the hotel and from there completed the prologue and 3 stages.
After staying with our friends Yannick and Aureliè Lincoln for 3 days, it was a shock to the system racing the 16km prologue around the historic Le Morne Brabant. We coped well enough to finish 2nd, 27seconds behind Yannick and Aureliè who were very motivated in front of their home crowd.
A bent derailleur hanger early during stage one forced us to stop and do some roadside repairs. It didn’t cost much time but we lost a lot of momentum and never really got going afterwards finishing the stage in 3rd place.
Stage 2 was much better for us with only a steep, muddy downhill costing us some time. We started to find our race rhythm and got better as the day progressed finishing motivated for the final stage.
By stage 3 we finally found our groove and raced hard to finish the stage and the race in 2nd overall. It felt good to push so hard on our 67th and final day of racing for 2016.
It was also good to see Yannick and Aureliè win a race that means so much to them, especially after Yannick is making his comeback from serious injury sustained at the Olympics in Rio.
Now we have a few days to enjoy the island and live up to the idea everyone has of this place. We will do our best to meet those lofty expectations!