Straight after Tankwa Trek last weekend, I flew to Johannesburg and drove to Dullstroom, a popular place in South Africa for altitude training since it is 2000 meters above sea level. I have always found it difficult to race at altitude and since we had a race in Sabie this weekend I thought it was a good opportunity to spend some extra time at altitude to see if my body can learn to adjust to the thin air up here, and no better place to do this than Dullstroom.
When coming up to such a high altitude it is important to give your body a few days to acclimatize, meaning that my first days were just easy rides in the area, it's amazingly beautiful here!! I went down to Lydenburg (only at 1400 meters) to ride with Emily a few times, it is better to train low, before I started to ride at 2000 meters.
On Friday I went to Sabie (1000 meters) for the XCM World Series UCI race, which was also a qualifier for this year's Marathon World Championship in Italy. I was hoping that it would be a little easier to breathe after I had spent 5 days on higher altitude. The race was 72km and we would climb 1850 meters and most of the climb was done during the first half of the race! With such a profile no attacks were needed, the field spread out quickly when we hit the first climb. Ariane, Robyn and I got away early on and as we started the second climb Ariane left us behind and we never saw her again. I passed Robyn and she caught me on the next down hill only to ride away from me half way up the ”Mamba” the biggest climb of the day!
It was a really hard course, my riding time of 3 hours 54 minutes over 72km says it all! It was not only lots of climbing, the descends were either rocky or on slippery single tracks so no time to recover!
I kept my 3rd place and am happy with that, especially considering that I was 8th in this race 2 years ago and I must say it was a little easier to breathe this time:-) Ariane once again took the win and Robyn was 2nd, a good result for Team Ascendis Health!
I stayed in Sabie until Sunday and did the half marathon, it was a 45km long route and maybe more for the younger crowed, the reason for me doing it was to get two hard days in a row at altitude and I got what I wanted;) This course is about 1000 meters climbing in just 45km!
After the race, I met some friends from Stellenbosch who have moved up here, I have not seen them since their wedding nearly 2 years ago, so it was really nice to see them again !! Now I'm back in Dullstroom to continue my altitude training camp!
A huge thank you goes to my team Ascendis Health and Cape Brewing Company who makes this training camp possible for me!