7am Tuesday 23rd April 2013
We are currently travelling hundreds of miles per hour, no we aren’t in our new Vauxhall team van but we are sat on a plane travelling high over South Africa (about an hour north of our destination Johannesburg, another adventure is about to begin, we are racing the 9 day stage race Joberg2c. We being Tim my 2013 teammate who I’m racing with as this is another pair’s event, and my good friend Dan who’s here to generally look after us and create some extra banter!
Much like the speed of this plane the race season seems to be flying by, the year really began back in November but now the racing is in full swing each week passes by quicker than you expect. The start of the season started dry but cold at the final Brass Monkey race where I began with a win and the first round of the Gorrick Series where I finished 2nd.
Super motivated by my training we headed out to Spain to race the 6 day Andalucia Bike race, expected sunshine we and the organised were left a little surprised when snow storms swept through areas which hadn’t seen snow in 30 years! It certainly made the mountain top trails a little more testing. It was awesome to see fellow Brits Rich Rothwell and Ant White winning the Veterans category, they spent multiple days in the leaders jerseys and in my opinion are now ‘legends’ of the sport! Seb and Hamish Batchelor also put in a storming ride, bad luck on the first stage all but destroyed any chance of them achieving a decent general classification position but they weren’t deterred and finished top 10 numerous times over the remainder of the week, that’s one fast family! Our race didn’t go entirely to plan with mechanics and illness ruining what was one of my big aims of the year.
I used the disappointment to boost my training and turned up to the first National XC with strong legs; I finished 10th Brit but was still left thinking I hadn’t done as well as I could have done. The National was in fact the 4th or 5th race weekend in a row we’d seen snow, crazy! Another couple of weeks later and we made the hop back into marathon racing for the first European round of the World Marathon Series, top 20 qualified for World Champs so I was super happy to finish 17th despite having crippling stomach problems mid race, all the hard work was paying off. Jumping between race distances is a challenge but something I’m enjoying, a second place at the Southern XC against tough competition proved this.
So now we find ourselves about to land at South African turf, let the fun continue.
4pm Wednesday 24th April 2013
Since landing we’ve been swept up the South African experience which I’m glad about as we didn’t get a chance to do much touristy type stuff when I was here racing last year. Staying in the campervan is definitely the way to travel; the 3 of us are having great fun. After picking up the camper we drove down to our campsite an hour south of Johannesburg and parked up in the bush camp. It’s an awesome place with our own private swimming pool and animals like zebras (stripy horses), antelopes, ostriches, peacocks and wild kitten which we saw on a little 30 minute spin around camp.
We ate our meal of chicken risotto outside at the kids table which we’d been provided with the campervan! After dinner we climbed up to the top of the hillside to watch the sunset, we were a little late but it was worth the hike.
We were pretty knackered after a restless night on the plane so we were all tucked up in our beds by 8pm! Tim bought his Exposure Diablo light to use as a torch, 1500 lumens is a bit excessive though to make your way out of the camper and woke me up a couple of times, also heard some animals outside the camper. Otherwise it was a good night’s sleep, we all slept until about 9am, over 12 hours sleep!!
Today we went to rides some mtb trails, it turned out there weren’t many trails to ride at the game park we’d been recommended but the 2 hour road loop was a good laugh and we saw loads of monkeys so Dan found some new friends! We also saw more zebras, wilderbeast, impala and loads of birds. The actual riding was a big loop through the game park so we only saw 1 car and the scenery was stunning.
The supermarkets we’ve visited so far have had pretty impressive bakeries but we’ve resisted the urge to sample some of the cakes, that must wait until after the race! We have discussed whether we are aloud puddings when the race starts, the decision was that we can if we finish higher than a certain placing each day. Dan thinks we’re mad! Possibly, probably!