MTN Ultra Marathon, Dullstroom, 118km, 2500m
The MTN mountain bike series would kick off this year slightly later than usual, and at a brand new venue, Dullstroom. I cant say I was overly excited about this one knowing that this little fishing town getaway, lays at 2000m above sea level, and my performance would always be compromised at that altitude without the proper time to acclimatize.
Nonetheless, we took to the start line, Neil and myself in the Ultra, and Bridgette in the marathon. I couldn’t help but notice that I was the only rider in the top pro’s who had opted for my Trek Superfly Hardtail, not that I had an option as I had flown up with my road bike too for my extended stay of training.
The route was rough, and I managed to get through the first 30km, apparently the roughest, without any hassles, and knowing that most of the climbing was coming, I was feeling really confident. We started the long climb at the fifty-kilometer mark, a good 10km undulating climb lay ahead, and I was feeling really good. I put in a few hard efforts, and soon the front bunch of around 10 riders was whittled down to four. Another effort later and I found myself ahead of the three riders, and settling into my hard tempo, with a sensation that I’ve been waiting months to feel, and thought that this might be my day. Until that dreaded sound, ‘phhff phhff phfff’, looking down I thought I must be hearing things, but my tire had cut and was not sealing.
I tried to fix it but the plugs wouldn’t work and I ran out of bombs. Frustrated I rode the next two kilometers on a flat wheel to the tech zone, where I contemplated trying to repair it, or abandoning the race. With some help from Morne from RECM, and a big gulp of motivation, I decided to carry on, and get the benefit of a full high altitude training session.
The route never really smoothed out, and in fact, I would have to argue that even got rougher on the final 40km lap.
I managed to scrape myself to the finish, with one very sore and bruised rear end, and a slightly deflated morale at the prospect of what could have been.
Lady luck also took care of Bridgette, when after 9km she had a mechanical issue taking her out of the race, but a great ride by Neil saw him take fourth place after also suffering severe chain suck and a few mechanicals in the wet and muddy conditions.
So from here I will continue with my focus on Sabie, which has been my first ‘A’ goal of the season, and one that I’m more hungry than most to tick off!
Till then, cheers.
1st Lourens Luus (RE:CM)
2nd Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend)
3rd Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale/Blend)
4th Neil Macdonald (FedGroup-ITEC)
11th Kevin Evans (FedGroup-ITEC)