The Attakwas extreme mountain bike challenge kicked off for it's third year from the Chandelier Game Farm just outside Oudtshoorn. This race although only three years old is fast becoming known as one of the toughest single day marathon events around the counrty. This year was no exception, as they unveiled a new start loop to the race, replacing the gravel roads that took you to the start of the Attakwas trail with awesome Chandelier jeep track as used in the Drifter event last year. This then meant that the first 60km or so comprised of really rough and technical trails, making for a hard 126km race!
Soon after the start, a three man break soft pedalled away from the pack comprising of Tiaan Kannemeyer, Francois Theron (Garmin/Adidas) and team mate David George (MTN/Energade). I was content to just sit in the bunch and conserve energy as I have expierenced first hand how hard the final 50km can be. Unfortunately when the break had about 3minutes lead, Dave was having technical problems with his bike as we had to do a rush job of putting it together the day before the race, and was soon forced to retire from the race. This meant I had to up the pace a bit to limit the time gaps to the leaders. Tiaan was brought back before the Attakwas started proper, leaving Francois out on his own.
At the top of the King of the mountain the gap was down to about 90seconds and on the rough descent I cut my tire, forcing me to stop and repair it with a gator and tube. After loosing about 5minutes and a few places, I pushed hard to get back into the race, only to crash a few kilometers later. My race was turning into a comedy of errors at this point as I told myself to pull myself together and just get through the final 5km of the Attkwas trail in one piece.
At the Spur water point after the Attakwas section, the time gap to Francois was now 9minutes, and apon hearing the news I contemplated stopping for the hamburger.
Never the less I pushed on and very soon I was hearing the time gap was starting to come down. I knew the last 40km would be really tough and pushed as hard as I could but at the end it was Francois who won by 2minutes, deservedly so as he rode a really brave race out front all day. I was content with my effort and strength that I had remaining after the big effort for the day. It was fascinating pacing myself according to the data I was receiving via my SRM power meter, as it was my first mountain bike race with this new technology. Thanks to the team and Activeworx, we have world class products and info which will go a long way in helping us prepare for our goals and objectives for the year.
Thanks very much to Henco and Carel and the whole team at the Attkwas for inviting our team to their event and accommodating us in Oudtshoorn, it's always a pleasure and we look forward to coming again and attempting to regain my title next year!