We had a very nice long-weekend in Knysna at the Knysna Bull and it was great Epic training! It was a small field which makes for a nice race in the sense that most people get to know each other, the organization was top notch and it was fun to race as a mixed team with Craig again. It was good to get to show Nellie how great a stage race in SA can be, we don’t have them in Sweden and she was blown away! Unfortunately the races ended with a bad accident for Marilyn who still is in a coma and our thoughts are with her partner and our good friend Trevor.
Nellie arrived in SA on the Sunday after Tankwa and stayed at Kaleo and Houdenbek with me for just over a week to have a training camp. It was perfect with great trails and to just train, eat and sleep was a luxuary! We came back to Stellenbosch for 2 nights before we headed to Knysna for the race.
We went there on the Thursday morning and the race started with an urban prologue that same evening. It was a different experience since the route took us along a rail way, through a bike shop, over a graveyard and ended with a lap in a parking house! It was free start, which meant that you could start anytime between 17.30 and 18.45, when we saw that they had a lead motorbike we decided to go first since that one would clear the route! Perfect!
The distances of the stages were a bit short and I wanted some extra Epic training so Craig and I rode to the start at the Knysna Elephant park where the start of stage 1 was. The stage started with a neutral zone through the park and we had Zebra’s running across the path. They let us go when we hit a steep uphill and the field spread out immediately. We got a good start and were on our own most of the day. It was a hard route with a lot of false flats, it looked flat but was slight uphill which made even worse. We made the mistake of not filling up at the second water point so I struggled a bit at the end in the 36 degree heat! We won the stage by 10 minutes ahead of Cathrine Wiliamsson and her Belgium partner.
We woke up to rain the second morning so we decided to take the car this time. Luckily it stopped raining just before the start, I really don’t like starting in the rain! We did get some during the stage but that is fine! The cooler weather was actually appreciated after the heat the day before. The stage started with a 3km uphill and it was Queen of the Mountain prize at the top so I went really hard from the start, and I managed to win the prize. I might have started a bit hard since I could feel that I did not have great legs a bit later on some steep climbs! We won the stage by around 12 minutes.
The sun was shining when in the morning of the last day and we once again rode to the start, which was at Hakerville this day. It was play day and lots of single tracks on the Hakerville red route, I think we must come back here to ride a bit more. It was a fast route and both Craig and I felt strong, it was probably our best day out of the 3. We were very happy to win the mixed category for CBC!
I want to say a huge thank you to Knysna Bull team for this race, it was a fantastic weekend and we will definitely be back next year! A special mention about the amount of ambulances along the route, we were impressed of how many we saw and at remote places, something the organisers had paid extra for. And in hain site everyone was grateful for it since the ambulance was there very quick to give Marilyn help! I am holding all my thumbs and praying that all will be fine with her!
Also a big big thank you to my sponsor CBC for the opportunity to do this race!
During the prologue
At the finish after a rainy stage 2