African Cross Country Champs, Willowbridge, 8 laps, 4.2km
As continued preparation for my main goal later this year, I decided I would include a few Cross Country races where possible, to focus on my technical skills and XC racing was always one way to stay sharp in this department.
I hadn’t raced a XC since one of the nationals in George, in 2010. And I would quickly see how much I’ve been missing out on, from a skill point of view, and spectator and support view. It’s the Olympic discipline of our sport and in essence, the roots of mountain bike racing.
I would need to change a few things leading up to the race, mostly time management, as we would only race at 15:15 in the afternoon. I had practiced the course on Thursday, with some help and guidance from one of the world’s best XC racers, Manual Fumic from Germany. This was the only practice I could fit in, and a short bit of time to get used the Trek Superfly hardtail I would use to race.
I had no expectations for the race, I just wanted to get through safely, and work on the technical department. Being African Champs, there were riders from other African countries, and would make for an important race for the XC specialists.
We raced 8 laps, and I had a fairly good start, the starts are seeded according to your XC points, which I didn’t really have. I settled into the usual frantic pace and tempo of the fast starts, but had two silly crashes early on, costing me valuable time.
From there on I just settled into my own race, rode my own rhythm and enjoyed the support of the crowd that had come to watch this super fun course.
There were a few ‘hectic’ sections, but I managed to negotiate them with no major problems. I also stayed on top of my nutrition again, not quite sure what to expect from my body, but used the USN Cyto Power and gels to keep fueled for the intense nearly two hours of racing. I had to bust out some Oakley Racing Jackets, a firm favorite amongst XC racers, and they kept the dust and debris out my eyes and face.
You can have a look at the effort required as recorded on my Suunto Ambit, if you log onto their movescount web page. A completely different kind of racing from what I have become accustomed to.
I managed to sneak into the top ten, I lost two places on the final lap, but I was content with my effort by this stage and wasn’t going to battle for minor placing when we have such a long season ahead of us with specific goals.
Next race, is an old favorite of mine, the VW EP Herald cycle tour, two days, MTB and road. Time to jump into my KIA Soul and head home, to train and get ready for next weekend!
Till then, cheers.
1st Phil Buys (RSA) 1:39
2nd Lourens Luus (RSA)
3rd Rourke Croeser (RSA)
9th Kevin Evans (RSA)