As the race is held a mere 4 weeks prior to the Absa Cape Epic and offers similar riding conditions to what one will encounter at the Epic, it has become an almost compulsory preparation event for the Epic.
As such, it only made sense to team up with my 2016 Epic partner Theresa Ralph for this year’s edition of the DU TOIT tankwa TREK. Our main goal was to get familiar with each other’s riding styles and to develop an effective team strategy.
The total 265km route included 5250m of climbing and challenged riders in all aspects of the sport thanks to the varied terrain. The course consisted of loose and rocky gradients, some ridiculously steep ascents, winding trails through spectacular rocky outcrops and some meandering through succulent fruit orchards. The demanding terrain left its mark and it was actually quite comical to hear mountain bikers (myself included) complaining about cramping arms and hands instead of just the usual feet and legs.
I’ve raced against Theresa on countless occasions but this was our first outing as a team. Standing 183cm (6 feet) tall and with fiery red hair, Theresa always left the impression of "don’t mess with me", but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Theresa is actually a "Gentle Giant" and one of the kindest ladies on the mountain bike circuit. I can only say that it was truly a pleasure to race alongside her and spend time in her company.
Theresa and I had a consistent ride from beginning to end and kept on learning from each other as the kilometres ticked by. By day 3 we both felt like we’d managed to find our groove and now we are looking forward to our next stage race as a team.
Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag won the DU TOIT tankwa Trek overall with Bianca Haw and Candice Neethling in 2nd place. Theresa and I finished in 3rd place on all 3 stages to secure the final step on the podium.
Event organisers, Dryland, have a winning recipe with the DU TOIT tankwa Trek as it caters for a limited field of riders, offers tough but very rewarding riding, a stunning venue, delicious food and a warm, local atmosphere. If you are as fortunate as me to make it to the event and find a very kind partner to ride with, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience!