Stage 1 was special as it was a 40 km night race (30 km of which was single track) with an elevation gain of 740 meters. Maria Martinez was the perfect partner. She kept me encouraged on the climbs and I helped her pin the descents, as she followed my lines through the techy terrain. We loved watching the sunset and the moon rise over our heads as we raced through virgin single track, that farm owner Dion had recently cut on his motor bike. We had a flawless ride and came in as the leading ladies in the time of 2H59.
The ‘race village’ was great. We had all our riding needs met, from a workshop with spares, bike wash facilities, hot showers, massages, and a steak ‘restaurant’ with meat so succulent that it kept us going back for more every day. It was a bonus to have Seattle Coffee Company there, oh, and Mac Donald's.
We all slept tucked very cozily in out tents with the cows mooing close by and the frogs croaking us to sleep.
Day 2 was a 60 km day with at least 30 km of it single track. The 1600 m elevation gain was brutal on all our legs which had not yet recovered from the speedy ride the night before. I’ll never forget seeing my brother Daniel Dobinson and Harry Millar set off in their sombreros with minion and cat shaped balloons. Yes, your read that right! The vibe on the trails was awesome and encouraging. We were doing great until my side wall slashed because of some glass embedded in the trail. We lost 30 minutes as it was not so easy to fix. Interestingly enough we made up a lot of time and even managed to make up most of the positions we lost. Our riding time was 3H44 but we crossed the line in 4H15. Tired but satisfied we managed to hold on to the leading ladies category.
When it comes to stage racing, it is wise to take note of these few tips. Firstly, stay off your feet as much as possible after each day to aid recovery. You should eat within 40 minutes of finishing, hydrate constantly, and never skip on the post race massage. We ticked all those boxes, plus a sneaky nap and pizza were enjoyed before we did it all again on the finally day.
Day 3 was 50 km with an elevation gain of 1148 m and healthy 35 km of single track. We climbed and climbed for 15 km, then we had a fantastic morning as we negotiated our way through newly cut trails close the infamous Matroosberg. I actually had flashbacks of the EzelEnduro I raced there a few weeks prior. I loved how technical the terrain is around Eselfontein. Maria and I had a flawless day as we whooped our way over the line in 2H57, winning the overall ladies category.
I was delighted to hear the proceeds from the event went to three different old age homes in Ceres, which is an even better reason to be back next year to defend our title. Folks, be sure to sign up next year, this is a race that should not be missed.