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  • Mariske Strauss

XCO WC #3 – Vallnord, ANDORRA

From XCC Mayhem, to XCO Magic



This has been a wild ride so far. The journey that has led me to this week was filled with some epic emotions. It started with riding into Andorra through the Pyrenees that filled my soul with so much joy I could explode, but life is not always sunshine and gorgeous views. I had quite the uphill battle to get to this point of complete happiness and I have to give a huge shout out to Mr Marius Claasen, you have an incredible soul and I cannot thank you enough for the role you played to help me find my happy place. This world of racing we live in can be a lonely one and if there is one thing I have learned, it’s that we all need that support system. So surround yourself with the peeps that help you see the light and get that spark of joy that will ignite a fire so bright everyone will be forced to stop and stare, but I have digressed…


Back to the racing:

Friday rocked up in full swing and unlike the previous rounds, I had a sense of calm and excitement brewing in me. I knew I had done the work and by the Grace of the big man upstairs, I have found my joy again, so now all that was left to do is warm up, show up and rock out.

That was exactly what I did, and boy it felt good. I was in the midst of the big names and actually in the race. Now I have to add, for those of you that haven’t been to AND, it is high(altitude)… like breathing through a straw wondering what acid just poured into your lungs high, so this makes for extra intense racing. By the penultimate lap I was lying around 9th / 10th and feeling spectacular. I decided it’s now or never and I attacked on the climb. Only Harvey ( aka my bike) wasn’t too keen on that idea, my gears jumped as I got up to power away on the climb, which meant I was not going to go forward. So there I was, on the ground , accidentally taking another rider down with me, trying to get back on my bike ASAP. Unfortunately with this format being so tight and fast, I lost a lot of places and was set back to finish in 20th position. This however still meant I got a 3rd row start for Sunday, so I focused on the good and most importantly had to sort out my gears to ensure that the getting bucked mid attack didn’t happen again. Thanks to the guys at SRAM that’s exactly what we did.


On to Sunday, which came just as quickly, with a bruised body and me still trying to swallow my lungs into position, I was in the call up boxes doing my final warm up with my trusty Mechanic right beside me :). I had my game plan, Harvey was ready and now I had to go for it. Easy… just ride your bike as hard as you can, get into the single track ahead of the pack and smash it, no big deal. I am soooo happy to say, that was exactly what I did. I knew the climbing was fears and single tracks rough but I also knew we had done the work, besides my Harvey was built for this terrain. It was not easy but before I knew it I was heading out onto my final lap in 13th place! I am still over the moon and don't think it has really sunk in yet. This is the highest ever world cup finish an Elite female SA rider has ever had, so how cool is that!? I have gotten a taste of it, and I must say I liked it…


Now I am sitting here in Les Gets amped for the next round which officially kicks off tomorrow again! Time really flies when you’re having fun. Huge thanks for all the messages of support and encouragement I have received, I really appreciate them all!

Lastly another huge thanks to my coach, dad, family and mechanic AKA my pit crew you guys are my rocks and put a smile on my face!


I will keep you posted, keep riding and as always have fun!


M


PS Thanks @thomaswdesign & @marcelorypl for the stunning pictures ;) enjoy

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