It was an impressive field of girls on the start line, we must have been around 30 and probably the biggest and the best field we have ever had on a one day race in SA. We had Annika Langvad ,World XCO champ, Esther Süss former world XCM champ, Robyn in great form, Flora Duffy multiple world X-terra champ, Alessandra Keller good up and coming XCO rider from Switzerland who won the Swiss Epic last year, Vera and Candice who are always strong and riding in a team together this year, so it was set to be a hard race!
We started in a good pace, not too hard, for the first 10 km, until we hit the A-Z single tracks. I had a good position on Candice’s wheel on the first one but on the second Annika came passed and sneaked in first and the pace picked up. Candice could follow for a bit and I lost them. Alessandra also came passed me and caught up with the other 2 after a really rocky section. Robyn also caught me on a climb and we rode together for a long time and passed Alessandra. Robyn dropped me on the climb to the QOM and I could see that she also passed Candice. We were not far apart at the top and I started chasing on the way down. We had 3 guys between us and they crashed on the next single track and I got stuck behind them and lost sight of the girls. I could soon see Candice again but I was between 30-45 seconds behind without getting closer. We did a loop around a big dam after 55 km and on the open space I could see Robyn about 1,5min ahead and Candice about 30 seconds ahead and I thought that maybe I was not doing too badly after all and I got some extra motivation and could pick up the pace a little. At 59 km I managed to pass Candice and I was told that Robyn was a minute up. I started to feel better now.
But then the bad luck struck! I had 2 guys about 15-20 meters in front of me at 62km and they followed signs going left and I followed but I started to get a feeling that it was wrong since it was yellow signs we were following and our race had white signs. I knew there was another race at Oak Valley starting at 12.00 the same day but I realized (and trusted my feeling) too late and only turned after 1,5km. I climbed back up and when I got back to the point where I had gone wrong I saw there were both yellow and white boards at the same place. Afterwards when I looked at my Garmin it said I had been off the route for 9,5 minutes!! There was nothing else to do then just cruise to the finish, I was now in 7th place… I was extremely disappointed!
Hoping for better luck next time! My Cape Epic partner Esther finished strongly and took the 3rd spot instead and looking good for Epic.
Craig had a very good ride and won the vets! So at least he had the right to celebrate with a CBC beer in the evening! ;)