Situated on the edge of the Highveld escarpment, Kaapsehoop was the venue for the final round of the National MTB Marathon Series. It was the first time the series visited the town prompting a lot of excitement about the new routes on offer.
For the second week in a row Mother Nature threw a curveball with some rain dousing the area in advance, making for a few slippery trails and tricky downhills on day 1 of the two day event.
Heavy mist turned into fine rain and back into thick mist again as we departed town for our 7:30am start. At fi
rst we stayed close to town but once we descended down the escarpment and out of the mist, the cool temperatures steadily rose making for quite pleasant racing conditions. Of course what goes down must come back up and the second half of the course was characterized by a 10km climb which gradually got steeper as it closed in on the finish.
The men were off first and Team PYGA Euro Steel were the early aggressors as team mates Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys vied for overall Series honours. Matthys proved to be the strongest taking the victory ahead of his team mate with HB Kruger (Team BCXX) in 3rd.
Melt had a steady start but a double puncture halfway through the day robbed him of some momentum. As luck would have it Melt had just given some of his spares to another rider but thankfully Alan Gordon stopped to help which meant Melt could continue. He steadily made his way up the field finally salvaging 10th place on the day.
In the Ladies race Candice Lill (Dormakaba) used her cross country start and skill to break away early leaving me to chase all day. I battled the slippery course as much as my competitors, trying to go fast without risking too much. Candice rode faultlessly winning the stage ahead of me and another local, Dalene van der Leek (Bell’s Cycling) taking 3rd.
Day 2 dawned sunny and warm giving the venue and the race a completely different a
tmosphere. It was the final day’s racing in this premier series and the sun was out to celebrate the occasion!
With nothing to lose Matthys Beukes tore off the line quickly stretching the field. At the halfway mark he repeated his acceleration, snapping the elastic and soloing to another victory again ahead of his team mate Buys. HB Kruger repeated his strong showing finishing in 3rd after a recent comeback from a broken collarbone.
Melt knew the day would be tougher than expected and planned to ride defensively at first, leaving something in the tank for the final 20km. Boys will be boys and by his own admission he got caught up in the racing spending his final effort a little too early.
He finished 9th on the day and 9th overall for the weekend.
I warmed up properly and decided to give it a go from the gun. Candice stuck to my wheel as I made my initial effort and the 2 of us drew away from the other ladies.
After about 5km Candice counter attacked setting up another chase scenario for stage 2. We battled on the freshly cut singletrack, hiking trails and jeep tracks which littered the route with Candice managing to stay ahead and win the day. Vanessa Bell kept Bell’s Cycling on the podium taking 3rd on the day and the three of us mirroring those positions in the overall honours for the weekend.
It was fantastic to be part of the inaugural National MTB Series race at Kaapsehoop and we look forward to the event next year when the trails are sure to be ridden in and even more fun than this year!