Rhebokskloof wine estate hosted the first National XCO race on 25 February. Myself, Philip and Kombo arrived in Cape Town on Thursday morning and made our way to Wellington, the 39deg heat made the current drought in Cape Town prominent to the eye and the track was very dry and loose. Matthys was still deciding whether to do the race, if not he would come through to support and attend the team photoshoot planned for Sunday.
We practised the lines on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to escape the heat and it was clear that there would be a lot of internationals racing.
Below a link to a short video clip on Facebook of the race, please re-share it so more eyes can see and follow what we do :) a big shoutout to Hayden Brown for the great pictures and video content!
Below some words from the team:
Philip Buys - 6th Overall (2nd South African)
As part of building some intensity into our legs, we did the first race of the national XCO series at Rhebokskloof. I was excited to see what the bike would feel like on a XCO track. The feeling was good. The bike performed like a dream on the dry and rutted track.
With a bunch of top European XCO specialist on the start line, I was seeded in the second row. We started straight into a headwind up the first climb, so this time second row suited me perfectly. I had a solid start and got into the first trail without any traffic or mishaps. With the second acceleration I realized that I would have to settle into my own steady pace, as I could not mach the speed at which the lead group took off.
Slowly throughout the race I managed to ride myself into 6th position, keeping my riding smooth and controlled on the loose track. It felt like I could carry on with my steady pace for a while even after the last lap, which shows that my fitness is there and intensity Is good enough for the moment looking towards Epic.
After the race, Matthys and I decided to do the 40min spin back home, just because we felt good soon after our race effort. Two more weeks of hard training left before Its time to start tapering. This following weekend I will do the first race of the Nissan series in Gauteng.
Matthys Beukes - 11th Overall (3rd South African, 2nd Western Cape)
After struggling to get over the allergic reaction from a bee sting I thought that the planned XCO National in Paarl was not going to happen for me. On Friday morning during training I started feeling better and could see my power was almost back to normal. I made the late call to join the team and do the race, even if its just for training and the fun of it.
I didn't get the chance to see the track beforehand so Phil and Kombo gave me a good rundown of what to expect. Obviously I had to take the first lap easy to check things out a bit.
I had some trouble in the start with a pile up but didn't mind as it took pressure off me but I was quite far down in the pack as we hit the first single track. After seeing the whole track I got into a good rythm and set about catching as many riders as possible.
In the end I was having so much fun and really enjoyed pushing hard. A proper days training and to top it off I was gunning for a top 10 but just missed out in 11th. Was really happy to hear that I finished 3rd SA rider so infact my speed is definitely there.
Looking forward to hitting this week hard as I do my final tune up for Epic!
Thanks to the team for a awesome weekend, always fun spending time with you guys.
Kombo Bere - 38th Overall (1st Zimbabwean)
What a weekend of fun filled hard racing. Thank you guys for all the support and the wonderful messages. With the first xco cup race done and dusted now begins the hard, but fun work.
Didn't have such a great race, but happy to say have seen the area's that need to be worked on and also excited for the next few weeks of training before the next xco cup race. This was an amazing learning experience and always greatful to be in the same field as Phil and Matthys, my hero's and mentors.
Also very happy to see the significant levels of progress, and excited for the next few weeks, months and years to come. Have a blessed week everyone.