We did the very nice, tough and well organised Java MTB a few years ago. It was at Van Loveren wine farm outside Robertson and my prize then was a 5 liter wine bottle which I think is really cool. This year they were advertising that the route would be much of the Cape Epic 2018 route so I wanted to go and do that race to see what we can expect in March. Craig and I went to Robertson on Friday evening to stay over instead of driving super early on Saturday morning. There were not many top riders on the start line when we started at 8am. Craig sat a high pace from the start and I tried to follow as long as I could, but already after 5-6km when we started to climb I had to let him go, I felt like I was riding over my max… AJ passed me and caught up with Craig. I was alone in 3rd for a long time. It was sometimes difficult to see where we were meant to go and at one point I thought I was lost since I could not see Craig and AJ in front and it was very open. I got out on to a gravel road and could see riders approaching from behind so I sat up to wait for them. I was surprised when I saw that it was Craig and AJ, had I gone wrong or them?? It was them. So I tried to follow for a bit again but it did not last long and I was on my own again. At the 33 km mark I got caught by a few guys on a downhill and I got away again on the uphill. Eventually I rode together with Nicol from about 40 km to the finish at 80 km. I had no interest in trying to get away from him and I don’t think he tried to get away from me and we both seemed as tired. I struggled a bit with the heat, only to see on my Garmin later that it “only” got up to +27…. I am not looking forward to the high 30th which will come… With about 8 km to go we caught AJ who had lost Craig and the 3 of us finished together. They sprinted for 2nd place and I finished just behind them.
It was good to do the race to see the Epic route and get a feel for the terrain, it was very rocky and lose and lots of single tracks. It will be a hard stage in March. Since both Craig and I won we got 2 x 5 liter wine bottles, so now there are 3 of those bottles standing at home. Other than that I am not too sure that it was a good idea to do this race since I got more tired than normal and I still feel tired from the long season I have had. I will now take it really easy and find a good form again in time for Wines 2 Whales in 2,5 weeks. I will race together with Adel Morath from Germany and I am really looking forward to that!