I can hardly believe the year has officially kicked off, on a hot note... a very, very hot one.
For those of you that don't know this past weekend was the first race of my 2022 season, the Dryland Attakwas Extreme truly lived up to its name.
It is a marathon race starting in the home of the "Volstruis Paradys", Oudtshoorn; and from there we make our way to Grootbrak River through the Outeniqua mountains, traversing the great Attakwas kloof. This is already an unforgiving trip through some very rough and rugged terrain but this year we had one of, if not the hottest races ever, where temperatures reached highs of 51 degrees Celcius before mid-day! I had previously done the event, but a good 5 or 6 years back and told myself I will come back when I'm older... guess this year I decided I'm older so I entered and set off to face the heat, literally. The predictions was mid 40's so we knew it was going to be hot but there's nothing quite like the real thing.
The race started in Oudtshoorns main road and from there we had a lead quadbike that "escorted" us to Chandelier Guest Farm ( where the race officially started ).
I also did not have the most ideal lead up to the race. The week before I did a training ride in the heat and suffered from heat stroke so I had first hand experience and knew the risks coming into this race. This was probaly why I started a bit more conservatively and when Yolande and Amy started off like two Ostriches in heat, I knew I had to just focus on my own race. I backed off a bit and ended up riding with fellow LIV athlete, Sarah Hill. I unfortunately had a double punctured at kilometer 9... luckily I managed to fix it but lost some time there and just rode my own race from there. After this I had to stop another 3 or 4 times before I reached waterpoint 2 where we luckily had a neutral Tech Zone waiting, massive thanks to JP from Recycles for the help.
At this stage the race started to become more of a survival game and at the end of the day my aim was to try finish this Attakwas strong. For me this race was always preparation for the ABSA Cape Epic and as such after having lots around 20min at waterpoint 2 trying to fix my wheel I was just focused on the training and getting home safely in the extreme heat.
From WP2 there was still around 80km of treterous terain and big mountains to cross, so my race strategy stayed the same, get to the halfway point and then evaluate and race from there. To be honest it became more a race from waterpoint to waterpoint, drenshing yourself in cool water and trying to survive till the next one. The guys from Dryland did an amazing job in making sure there was enough fluids and electrolytes going around so well done to the whole team.
Other than the heat I really enjoyed the race actually, it was my first ride longer than an hour on my new LIV Pique and we definitely gelled from the get go. It truly is the most comfortable bike I've riden and sitting here I am really impressed with how well she handled herself.
I started catching people and slowly made my way back into the top 3 to take the 3rd spot at the finish in Grootbrak. Well done to everyone that finished this race and also well done to those that pulled out when they did. It is never easy to make that decision but this was beyond extreme conditions and it really became a matter of survival. Always listen to your body and I am super happy eveyone got home safely.
Now for the next race in only a short 2 weeks, Tankwa Trek here we come. I will be lining up with Candice Lill in preparation for Epic later this year. For now hope you all have a stunning week ahead.
PS Keep an eye out for my bike review on my new race machine coming soon :).
Lots of love to you all,