I was nervous in a completely different way than normal ahead of Saturday's race and felt a little anxious. Yesterday was one year since I fell and tore 2 of my 3 hamstring muscles off the sit bone, it happened during the Cycle tour MTB challenge, the race which took place on Saturday. A lot of people have commented during the week and said "should you really do that race again". My answer was "Of course!" It was not the race’s fault that I fell. At the same time, the thoughts have been in my mind during the week, what IF something would happen again this close to Cape Epic… When we drove to the race and when I warmed up and eventually stood on the start line, it was like last year’s race day played in my memory, I could remember just about everything as if it was yesterday, who I warmed up with, how I felt, etc, and then afterwards and the disappointment of not being able to start at Epic…. I did everything to try to focus here and now and do this race as any other race.
There were many good girls on the start line and it was a very fast start with the guys. There were a lot of the international pro’s doing their last prep for Cape Epic and I found it really hard to start at that pace. Candice and Mariske got away and I managed to catch up after the first short uphill but couldn't stay with them for long. After about 10 km I saw Katie next to me and soon she left me, it has never happened before, but I just could not keep up. I started to wonder what was happening when I saw another girl in my small bunch and at that time, I could no longer see Katie… I was just hoping that my diesel engine would kick in soon and that the other 2 girls would not last the whole race. We soon caught Katie and the 3 of us rode together for long. At one water point I was told that we were 1.20 behind, I was wondering if it was up to Candice or Mariske, I had seen earlier that Candice rode away from Mariske. I have done this course many times so I know the route well, when we came to a longer single track I made sure to be in front and hoped that the others would drop. We lost Katie somewhere on that section but the other girl stayed on my wheel. A guy told me that we were ahead of Mariske since she had taken a wrong turn. At the next water point I was told I was now 1.40 behind Candice. I tried as hard as I could to get away from the other girl on the longest climb of the day but still could not shake her off. Soon after Marsike passed us and I had nothing to give and she left me as if I was standing still. I really did not have a good day. At the same time the other girl finally dropped and when that happened and Mariske disappeared the racing edge also disappeared a bit and I lost more time.
With about 3 kilometres to go I got a strange feeling and when I passed the place where I fell last year it was like I could barely ride a bike, it somehow became a bit emotional and from there I just rode very carefully to the finish. It was as if my leg could feel how sore those last kilometres were last year…
A third place is ok, and I am just so happy that I finished in one piece and could actually still ride my bike yesterday, I remember this day from last year way too well, I was preparing for the operation the following day. At the same time as I am happy, I am also a little bit disappointed that I was not strong enough to race with the girls up front. They were just too strong!
Now it is just 2 weeks left until Cape Epic and I really look forward to the day of the prologue when I get to stand on the start line together with my strong partner Mariske and be super nervous ;)