After the successful National Marathon in Champaign valley we headed to Pietermaritzburg to do the SA cup XCO. I had the privilege to do the Enduro race on Friday before the race with the PYGA family. Thank you Patrick, Hilton, Matt, Cam and Keira for the great chats and laughs.
Below some words from Philip and Kombo.
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.
With the first 5 months of racing behind us all I can say is that its been a great journey, the results to date were fantastic and we clearly stamped our mark as the best mountain bike team in Africa.
In the buildup and planning we always knew that doing Joberg2c, Sani2c and the SA Marathon champs in one month, yes 31 days, would be a massive task! After a tough, cold and wet Sani2c our riders unfortunately fell ill. Matthys had to fly home but Philip having recovered a bit decided to soldier on and race the SA Marathon Championships. We are currently taking a small break to recover, get well and be ready for the next national Marathon in Champaign Valley 10-11 June.
Philip Buys - 2nd Overall
A few days after racing in the wet and cold conditions at Sani2C, I picked up a cold and Matthys picked it up two days after me, we had to take a few more days off to recover.
Our next race was SA Marathon champs and unfortunately Matthys felt that he would not be able to race and I also had to think very carefully whether I should race or not.
My heart rate and power seemed normal and safe to race, so I decided to give it a go and if I started feeling the slightest discomfort during the race, I would withdraw.
During the race I still had blocked sinuses and had plenty of slime, but halfway in and with most of the climbing behind us, I still managed to stay in contact with the leaders.
At one stage my left leg seized up with cramps and I had to stand in one spot for about two minutes stretching it out. With being ill and riding so little the few days leading up to the race, I sort of expected some cramping, but not as severe as what I had.
I dropped back to 5th place before the last 20km loop and managed to work my way back into second before crossing the finish line.
The plan for the next week is to fully recover from being ill and take a few extra days off before prep for the next block of racing coming up in 3 weeks time. We’ve had quite a long haul of racing up until now and its time to recuperate and refocus.