Yesterday saw the first leg of the National MTB Marathon series for 2016, same as last year it was held at Meerendal wine estate outside of Durbanville. I like it when the races are close and I can stay at home and don’t need to travel the day before. It was an early morning start as usual which we were very happy about considering the heatwave we have had here for the last month.
Esther Süss is out here for training so she and Ariane would be the 2 to watch today, Robyn was a bit sick so she was not going to push so hard. Our first climb of the day was Stair way to heaven and it was clear that Esther and Ariane were watching each other and I struggled to find a good line behind them, so I decided to go to the front to get my own line and soon I discovered that I only had Esther with me, I was a bit surprised since I never before have ridden away from Ariane on a climb. We pushed to the top and down the sketchy downhill on the other side. When we came out on some open gravel roads it did not take long before Ariane was back, shortly after also Robyn and more and more girls caught up and we were a big bunch. I sat on the front a lot but did not push hard since I knew they would just sit on, after a while it got a bit irritating when no one really wanted to work so on the longest climb of the day just after the feed station I went to the front, again to be able to choose my own line, and I pushed a bit and once again I only got Esther with me! I opened a gap on her down on the other side and through some farms with lots of corners. It was too far still to go to try and go on my own so when she caught up we started to work together. We still did not work very hard on the flats and just before the climb up to Hoogekraal I could see Ariane and Robyn approaching from behind, luckily we had the long climb again to open up the gap once again. Esther took a technical line down on the other side of Hoogekraal and I took the chicken run and I had to chase hard downhill to catch up with her again. With only 6km to go we were still together and I could start to feel that I was getting tired, she went to the front and put in an attack just as we started the last short climb and she got a small gap which I could not close. I was not far behind and when I turned in to the finish stretch I could see her crossing the line.
Just the fact that I had made Esther work hard and stayed away with her was like a victory for me! It was an honour to finish between her and Ariane, 2 of the best marathon riders in the world! Robyn did extremely well to finish 4th even though being sick.
Zoon caught me warming up:-)
Puh, just finished!