Mixed: 1st -Melt & Jolandi; 3rd -Heinro & Jenine.
Womens: 2nd -Mari & Heila
We have just returned from a stint racing in Europe so we knew we were slightly fatigued and travel weary but the excitement of lining up at a new event (at least for us) IN South Africa motivated us a lot. Add in some strong competition for the Mixed Category and we were soon in ‘race mode’.
An unexpected but very welcome bonus came our way when Nico Bell from Team NAD offered us their surplus accommodation and we could stay comfortably on site making our logistics a lot easier. Seemingly small things like this make a big difference in both our performance and our experience of the event making us very grateful.
The Magoeba Trek is hosted at Cheerio Gardens situated high on a mountain between Tzaneen and Polokwane in the Limpopo Province. It runs over 3 days heading in a different direction each day and with distinctly different courses for each stage. Stage 1 was undulating in the most extreme sense of the word and it felt like we spent the whole day going up and down over short, sharp climbs. Day 2 had a fast start and a long descent down into a valley before we made our way back via an hour long (rocky!) climb and a final drag that seemed interminable. The last stage was a punchy, cross country style route filled with fun singletrack and loads of turns taking our minds off the effort needed to power up the steep hills.
Despite our opposition racing aggressively we stuck to our guns and raced to our strengths. Every day they would start fast and race ahead while we rode a pace we thought was sustainable, clawing our way back into the game every time. There was no GPS navigation and some peculiar placed route markers hade everyone missing a turn at some point, adding a few kilometres to their race. We realized this early on and made a point of following the correct route reasoning that a few seconds lost going slow to check the route is less costly than getting lost.
It was clear that a lot of hard work and effort had gone into the trails but they were by no means manicured adding a sense of adventure and discovery to the race. It also meant you had to be a bit more circumspect with your riding or risk a puncture and/or mechanical. Most teams had a mechanical hiccup along the way and it was all about how you dealt with it that decided your fate.
We fought hard all weekend but it also felt like we really measured our effort well racing every stage to the best of our abilities leaving us delighted to come away with the win. Apart from the racing it was good to catch up with the mountain bike crowd while enjoying the generous hospitality offered by the event. The organizers couldn’t do enough to accommodate everyone, the food was top drawer and the coffee, pancake and Boerie-roll vendors sorted out the rest.
We look forward to watching this event grow and enjoy the success it deserves!