Although this was the second race in the series it was my first and I was unsure what to expect. The course was going to be tough with 210m of climbing each lap. We were set to do 5 laps of the 6km course but were unpleasantly surprised on the start line with an extra lap!

Carel and I set out in convoy and dragged our wives and little supporters with us. The weather was bleak, grey and an icy wind was blowing. Not great for riding and even worse for spectating. Nonetheless they braved the weather and came along.

We headed up to registration and then decided to scout the course for a lap. The jeeptrack climb didn’t seem that steep ,then we headed into the singletrack sections. There were some sharp bends on tricky ascents, that proved to be troublesome at race pace too, then an open section of singletrack that should be fast, but ever so uphill that it bogged the legs. There was short downhill followed by more singletrack climbing though the forested part. The downhill section was great though, smooth and flowing with a few loose sharp bends initially but mostly hardpack and narrow. I fell as it tightened up and the front wheel washed out over some loamy loose soil, I noted to stay tighter left in the race, and didn’t have any more trouble there. A short climb opened up to a wide downhill section and popped up onto this false flat slow drag that made me feel like the brakes were on everytime I came by, another fast downhill and then onto a beast of a gradient round the quarry. I’d make it 20% and loose on each side. The front wheel popped up on each pedal stroke and it was tough to ride straight.

Up Up and more Up

We stripped off the winter gear we’d warmed up in and made for the start line, here’s where we got the notice of the extra lap! The horn went and away we go, we jostled a little off the line and I hit an off camber bit of gravel and fell. I was up quickly and didn’t lose too many positions, but I had lost the tow on the front. I climbed past a few riders and got back to Carel who had dropped his chain. I was up to third and chasing. Andreas was up ahead and I tried to hold the gap on the climbs, there was about 30 secs between us and each lap I tried to gain on him. He would pull away out of sight on the climbs and I would haul him back on the descent. Only to pop out and see him halfway up the 20% climb in the quarry. This went on for 4 laps until I lost sight of him and I slowed down a bit, on the 5th lap I felt dead and just tried to maintain my lead of the 4th place man, who i could see was Carel fighting back after a troublesome ride, I took a Supergoo on the final lap and felt way better than the last lap, I climbed stronger and knew I had held my advantage on the climb, but Carel is a fast descender too and I had to keep pushing.

I came home in third position overall in the Subvet Category and 1st in Subvet A (30-34)

Does this count as my first win?!

Out of the Forest
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