Sabie Experience is one of the oldest stage races in the country making it a unique event to be part of. This year’s edition consisted of a 65km stage on day one followed by an 82km stage on day two before the 40km time trail on the final day.
Riders couldn’t have asked for a better stage one as a great route, clear skies and stunning scenery all made for a textbook start to the event. Unfortunately that afternoon a cold front sweeping across the country arrived in Sabie and the inevitable rain started to fall.
Sabie with all its striking beauty can be a different creature when wet. The ground gets very slippery in certain parts of the forest which can catch you off guard completely. Having had my own close encounters with Mother Nature due to these icy patches, I can’t help but get nervous whenever there is rainfall in this area during a race.
Despite the rain clearing just before the start of day two, the course was left wet and slippery in places throughout the remainder of the event. Fortunately I didn’t have to take too many risks on the technical sections as I had a 12 minute lead on my rivals after the completion of stage one.
The young and talented Emily Clarke (Valencia Team) put up a great battle racing fearlessly to keep me on my toes throughout the event. In the end Emily closed down my lead, finishing in 2nd place overall with Kirsten Gillespie (Valencia Team) rounding out the podium in 3rd place.
I am very pleased to take the overall victory in such a long standing event such as Sabie Experience and even more satisfied to have kept the rubber side down. This event truly challenges you on so many levels as the mountainous terrain, natural elements and competition all come into play. No wonder Sabie is the battlefield where racing started and hopefully will continue as long as there is fat tyre racing.