8 days after coming back to SA it was time to race again, this time it was Berg and Bush on the program and I was looking forward to team up with Robyn again! It was the first time for both of us doing this race. I flew up to Johannesburg early on Thursday morning to drive down to Harrismith with the team. The dry air and high altitude (1750 meters above sea level) got to me already on the warm up ride that afternoon when Robyn and I went out to check that our GPS’s worked properly! We did not want to make the same mistake as at Sani2C when we lost the win due to a navigation error!
It was back to the early starts, 6.30am felt a bit too early…. We started off in a big bunch and when we hit the first single track after about 10 km the group split up and we found ourselves together with our biggest competition Vera Adrian and Candice Neehtling of Team Dorma/Time Freight. We rode together with them for most of the day and after descending the enscarpment (on fantastic single tracks) we were again in a big bunch of guys and there were some fast sections on open gravel roads. We got a bit of a gap on a climb but it all came back together. We (the 4 girls) went straight through the 3rd water point at 77 km while the guys stopped, that was a mistake since we were out of drinks and still had a bit to go. I could feel that I started to lack energy and on the next longish climb I lost contact with the others. I just got completely empty and my legs were hurting badly! Robyn had to drop back and we lost sight of the others. We finished 1 minute and 15 seconds behind Vera and Candice after 99 km of racing. I was extremely disappointed with myself!
Day 2 was an easy and fast 60 km course. Not much happened and we stayed with the other girls the whole day. We won the stage in a sprint but did not make up any time.
On Saturday evening the organisers put up another event, a hill climb up Spioenkop! I did not know if my legs were going to get me up the 1,3 km very steep climb… We were 17 girls racing and 25 guys with separate starts for girls and guys. I was not sure of how to approach this climb so I set a high pace from the start, which was wrong. Candice, Robyn and I were all together as we started the last steep piece but I had burnt my matches already and completely died and could hardly get up to the finish line. Got 3rd and must be happy with that considering how I was feeling.
On day 3 we had to give everything we had, I must say that our team work worked a lot better this day. It was a short stage of only 49 km but with a lot more climbing than the other days. We attacked on the first longish climb and got a gap, we had to climb Spioenkop again and it was very painful, at the top we later heard that we had had a 2 minute gap over the others. We descended as fast as we could the last 15 km downhill to the finish and to be honest we thought we would make it. But Vera and Candice had descended a lot faster and we only won the stage by 46 seconds, which meant that we lost the race by 28 seconds! Frustrating…
Berg and Bush is a great event!! The organisers are really good at what they are doing, the route is fun with lots of single tracks and the race village is very well set up and it is nice that we stay at the same place from the afternoon of day 1 until the end and not needing to pack and move every day.
Thank you to everyone involved in the race and to the Team Ascendis staff and Nicole for taking such good care of us!
Lots of fun being back racing with Robyn
A little disappointed after losing the race by only 28 seconds