This weekend we travelled down to the Central Drakensberg for the 4th leg of the National Marathon. Arriving on Thursday afternoon it gave us time to settle in and prepare for the race on Saturday.
Also a big thank you to Hilton Frost and family for welcoming us into their home and the great hospitality.
Philip Buys - 2nd
Race number 4 of the Ashburton national mtb series took us to the picturesque Champagne Valley in the Drakensberg.
The route and technical trails suited our riding style and tactics on day one was to take control of the race right from the start. Matthys bolted up the first and longest climb of the day, putting everyone in the hurt.
I would just sit in the chasing bunch and cover any moves if Matthys did not get away. Before we crested the KOM climb, Brendon Davids had a slight lead and I knew that I could close the gap going down the mountain again, we rode this section the previous day.
I made contact with Brandon but could not stick with him up the next major hill. Brendon lead the race all the way with me trailing about 30s behind him, hoping for a long and technical enough downhill to close the gap, but with 15km to go he just pulled away and ended up beating me with just over 3min.
Going into day 2 Matthys and I sat in 2nd and 3rd positions. Tactics today was to go flat out from the start to put Brendon under pressure, forcing him to pop or make a mistake. We saw this tactic as the only way we would have a chance to make up that 3 min deficit.
There were a few moments where it seemed that our tactic was working, but Brendon rode strong and covered everything we through at him. I was quite spent with about 10km to go and had to settle for 2nd again and also ended up 2nd on the overall standings.
Im staying in KZN for the week to do the next XCO cup race at Cascades in PMB. Hopefully the intense racing will ad that extra edge for World Champs the following weekend in Germany.
Matthys Beukes - 3rd
After missing out on SA Champs 3 weeks ago due to illness I was really looking forward to coming back with a bang at the new venue in the beautiful Champagne Valley.
My training after I’ve recovered has been solid but with only 1 good weeks training in the legs I was a bit unsure of where my shape is but knew that I would be fresh as a Drakensburg daisy (just made that up)
Anyway, the routes was really nice with proper big climbs and nice technical descends and that suits me very well.
Day 1 was a 70k loop and would start with a 9km uphill slog to the King of the Mountain.
I knew that it wouldn’t be possible for me to play the waiting game as I was just too excited to be back and decided to make it as hard as possible from the start.
Right away there were only a select few of us while Phil set of in pursuit of the leader, Brendon Davids.
I hung back until the 30km mark and decided to see if I could bridge the gap but got stuck in no mans land in 3rd.
It stayed that way to the finish with Phil 2nd and me 3rd.
It really was a great day on the bike and I took some time to look around and appreciate the views just enjoying being out there, such a privilege!
Day 2 was a shorter 50km but the racing even more intense from the start as me and Phil tried to shake Brendon.
Again Phil and Brendon powered away while I covered the small group of Knox, Beers and Bell.
Eventually it was me and Knox coming into the last 2km together where I attacked on the hill towards the finish to take 3rd again after Phil in 2nd and Davids 1st.
Looking back now I realise that getting sick put me back quite a bit but Im looking forward to a proper training block to get back up to top speed ahead of a busy rest of 2017, onwards and upwards.