By Yolande Speedy
Standing on the start line of the 2008 Sani2C with our main competition; Yolandi De Villiers teaming up with Johan Labuschagne I knew we were in for a tough race and a fight to the finish!
The 89km 1st stage started on a fast rolling dirt road section with a few long uphill drags. The pace was fast and furious and I pushed hard to hang in with the bunch to the 1st single track. Here the bunch split, I was on the left and went into a slower single track section losing time on Carla Rowley and and Yolandi and Johan and the riders that had taken the faster jeep track.
Pushing hard we caught and passed them taking the lead on the climb. From that point forward we had quite a tactical race with Yolandi and Johan.
Using our technical strength to advantage through the single track trails and downhill sections Paul nd I would create a gap, which Johan and Yolandi would then close on the open road.
Finally we managed to break away with around 30km to go and we pushed really hard to the finish trying to stretch our lead as much as possible, finishing 4 and a half minutes ahead of them.
The 2nd stage, 99km long included 35km of the best single trail I have ever ridden and I was really looking forward to another day of awesome trail riding.
We set off just before 6am. The mist through the forest was blocking some amazing views of the valley below, but created an erie stillness to counterpoint the day to follow.
The pace was hard from the start; everyone trying to get a good position going into the 1st single trail section. Going into Nick’s pass (A section of well groomed switch backs carved into the mountain side, you just have to ride it!!!) we had a slight lead on Yolandi and Johan and hoped to stretch it before we reached the open roads again.
Unfortunately a few mistakes on my part put an end to that hope and cost me a number of stitches under my chin after I connected with a rock at high speed, not quite what I had in mind… They caught us going up one of the long climbs towards the compulsory half way stop and to my dismay I found that I had left my legs somewhere behind, and was struggling to get into a good rhythm.
Despite Paul’s help could not respond. Needless to say was a tough day in the saddle for me and a rather frustrating one for Paul! Yolandi and Johan had just over a minute lead on us by halfway and managed to stretch it by the end to leave us with just under a 4 minute deficit going into the 3rd stage.
Stage 3, a shorter 69km route started with a high paced undulating gravel road section, Yolandi managed to hang in with the main bunch longer than me and her and Johan quickly got a gap on us.
We chased hard going really well for the last 30km and started to gain on them.
Riding along the jeep-tracks in Vernon Crooke’s Nature reserve we were fortunate to encounter a herd of Zebra that ran along in front of us for 100 meters, spine chilling stuff!! As luck would have it going into the final 8km stretch we (Paul this time) suffered a puncture that took some time to fix.
The 3rd mixed team passed us and as soon as we got going again we chased back as hard as we could.
Reaching the beach they were a few hundred meters ahead of us and I tried to keep as much momentum going as the soft beach sand and encroaching waves would allow. The race finish now at the Scottborough high school left one last long climb up which we were able to make up some time and slip in front of them to take 2nd place for the day finishing 2nd overall in the mixed category.
I would like to truly thank and complement all the race organizers; they have taken all the feedback from previous years to make the event seamless! The route was once again absolute MTBiking paradise and the only thing I’m really sad about is that it’ll be a full year before the next Sani2C!!!
Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing)