The Year Updated
December started well with a flurry of old and new team activities including debriefings with the old team and introductions to the new! Training was well underway and running to schedule amongst the usual craziness of the festive season. Yolande and I headed down to Sabie to take part in the Experience (my 6th her 5th) as well as do a little extra training on the side and catch up on some hill work.
Christmas was spent with family with the exception of Kaitlyn who was unfortunately down in the Cape this year)-: but was still nice to catch up with every one else. On the training side it felt as though time was spent dodging rainstorms but the hours were rolling in even though many of them were rather soggy ones!
On the 6th of January Yolande and I headed to Oudtshoorn for our annual training camp. Huge mountains and quite roads (and scorching hot weather) allowed us to focus on what’s coming ahead and do some fine tuning before the season gets underway. Probably the highlight of the trip was our ride into The Hell and then back the next day. Gamkaskloof pass has to be the most amazing sights and even more spectacular on a bike!
MTN National Attakwas Ultra-marathon
We joined up with our new team for 2011 on Thursday, unpacked and headed for a nice meal. This was the first time getting to really speak to each other which was nice and gave us the chance to get a feel of every ones expectations for the coming year. Nicole joined us the following day laden with new Decca kit for the event which couldn’t have arrived at a better time!
There was the usual excitement in the air on the morning of the race but most of this team having done this before was very organized and professional therefore the pre-race ran like clockwork.
The start was not too frantic but then the pace slowly accelerated with the gradual increase in gradient and before long the huge start group started to split up. I was sitting comfortably in the front group and was pleased to be surrounded by my team mates Adrien and Charles and all was going to plan when I had a sinking feeling in my stomach – this race is definitely turning out to be my Elanor. My rear tire started going soft (ust on top of it!). Turns out that it got a large cut through the tread and I had to use multiple plugs and two bombs to get a seal. I started chasing back steadily as not to burn the valves and made good time through the rough sections. However after Bonnidale I battled to get rhythm and I could see the group in front of me pulling away (included Matthys, Brandon and a few other riders) I stopped at the next tech zone and raised my saddle position which helped but was way too late. So after a 5hr15min solo in the wind I finished in a disappointing 19th.
On the positive side I feel that my fitness is in a really good place at the moment and that my base is solid but now need to do some tweaking to get the most out of it! So now back to the drawing board and to prepare for Barberton and the rest of the season.
A special mention to the Volcans as they ran superbly! The upgrades from DT Swiss are fantastic as the adjustable front fork feels really good and the 1450 aluminium wheels are in a class of their own. Yolande and I are also using the new Continental X-king tires on the front and they bring loads of grip and confidence when the terrain gets nasty! Fizik saddles felt great and between them and the new Decca shorts I don’t think that one of the riders complained of discomfort. Mets helmets breathe very well and fit like a glove! I received a new set of Oakley glasses (Splitjackets) and they were brilliant for the entire race. Upgrades to Sram brakes felt good and brought allot of modulation which is key to better control and everyone is using different gear ratios which helped improve leg speed. Ritchey products are just quality from start to finish and the new colouring makes these bikes look very good!
Till next time, see everyone in Barberton!