• Mariske Strauss

SA XCO Cup #1 - Parys

What a week… The first race of the XCO SA Cup season kicked off this weekend in Koedoeslaagte just outside Parys, Free State. Never having raced a XCO there I was not really sure what to expect but anticipated heat and dust and Koedoeslaagte definitely had a lot of it.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and by the evening I already started feeling my chest tighten up. At first, I figured it was probably some race nerves combined with the dust and altitude. Anyway, I did the normal pre-race rituals leading up to Saturday.

But looking back it probably was more my asthma flaring up and I’m still struggling a bit. Amazing how dependent we are on a simple oxygen molecule.

Really puts things into perspective, how important small things can be.

Anyway back to racing bikes. I knew it would be a fierce battle with my Epic partner lining up next to me. Unfortunately, I was not able to race the way I would have wanted to.

Candice powered away on the climbs and I just had nothing spare to respond. I tried to stay calm and give it my all.


Those of you that have issues with asthma will know, the only thing you can do is to stay calm. Panic is the enemy and just makes matters 10x worse and before you ask, this is one of the reasons why I always race and train with an inhaler. That said murphy has impeccable timing... I lost my pump en route to the start. When I reached in my pocket at the start my inhaler was nowhere to be found, which basically left me breathing through what felt like a collapsed straw.


We can’t always be on top but we can always give everything we have and enjoy the journey.


I thank my Father for giving me a safe and fun trip and at the end of the day, we do this because we love racing. The next race is already a short three weeks away so now time to sharpen up and fine-tune for that 8 days of grueling fun that awaits us 😅👍🏼.


As always massive thank you to my sponsors, family, coach, and friends. Then special thanks to Candice for always being a fierce competitor and amazing friend as well as Darren for making sure we were both hydrated in the race.


Looking forward to the last couple of weeks of prep coming up.


Then for those who would like to join I will be joining some ladies in Bloemendal for a little spin Monday afternoon at 4 pm. If you can join please feel free it will just be a fun spin on some cool trails, otherwise, keep an eye out for the next one 😜

Love you all

M ☺️

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