Here comes a very late update!
Only a few days after the race at Meerendal I was going up a steep climb and ran out of speed and lost my balance and just fell to the side, it was one of those slow motion falls so nothing hectic, I put my hand down and I heard a noise… It was a bit sore at first but I could finish my ride. The next day was sore and I had to cut my training ride short due to the pain. I went for an x-ray but it did not show anything so I carried on. I trained on the road to avoid too much shaking and I got a wrist brace to keep it steady for the race almost 2 weeks after my fall.
I was really looking forward to the Tankwa Trek, a race I have done since the first edition in 2013 when we were only 80 riders and it has been interesting to see how it has grown to 800 riders this year. This race is perfect for Epic preparation, the routes are very similar and it is a good time to see where you are at, a lot of the international mens teams do this one so the level of the field is high! What I like the most about Tankwa is that you stay at the same place the whole time, start and finish is at the same place all 3 days, perfect not having to move!
Robyn and I were keen to try and defend our title from last year and our biggest competition was going to be Ariane and Candice, but the day before the race Ariane had to withdraw due to illness and Bianca Haw took her place. Bianca and Candice are both XCO specialists so they were going to be a big threat on a technical course like Tankwa!
Day 1 has a lot of technical and rocky terrain with a few longish climbs. We got a good start and after being in the same bunch as Candice and Bianca, we managed to open a gap on the first technical uphill. On the first rocky descent my wrist started to hurt a lot, that is when I started to really think that something was wrong inside… We managed to keep the gap to the 2 chasers but I could feel how the pain took my energy and I was not riding well. Robyn was really strong and I felt a bit sorry for her having to wait for me. We managed to win the stage by 10 minutes! All I wanted to do after was to nurse my wrist but instead I struggled to pee in the cup (doping test) and had to sit for 2 hours before I could manage…
Day 2 is all about the Merino monster climb, a 9km long climb with 1000 meters ascent, which comes after about 54 km and a few other climbs. I got a very good start and was hoping that it would stay like that for the day. We were together with Bianca and Candice all the way to the first water point at 27 km but we managed to ride them off on a long drag just after that. I could feel how I started to get a pain in my back since I was compensating for the arm and sitting skew on the bike and it also referred down my leg. It was not a good day… When we got to the real climb we heard we had a gap of 2 minutes 40 seconds, not much! I did what I could on the climb and Robyn was a good team mate staying with me the whole time and helping me where she could. I don’t think I need to mention the rocky descent off the mountain…. By the time we got close to the finish I had no power left in my one leg, all I wanted to do was to lay down.
Day 3 starts with a 11 km neutral zone with a “rolling start”, it was a bit difficult to know exactly when we started and unfortunately we sat a little too far back in the bunch when they let us go. We just missed the faster bunch and ended up in a bunch behind, it was all good since the 3 top ladies teams were all in the same bunch. I knew exactly where the first 3 km long single track were so we managed to go in there as rider second and third which gave us a small gap when we came on to the first climb and we managed to get away. It was a day of survival for me and the only important thing was to keep Bianca and Candice behind us which we managed to do. I can hardly explain the feeling of relief crossing that finish line knowing that we took the overall win and that I did not need to ride more with that wrist:-)
I saw my doctor on Monday and he could confirm that there is a small hair line fracture in the under arm very close to the wrist, so now my hand is in a very tight brace and I have to stay off the MTB until further notice (until it is not sore at all anymore). So I will not be racing in Sabie tomorrow.
Luckily there are still 3 weeks until Epic!
A few more pictures, thank you Zoon Cronje and Oak pics for the great photos!
Not sitting straight on that bike....