I have decided to ride the RECM Knysna 200 on Monday the week of the race when Hannele Steyn saw me in gym and asked me to ride with her. I have been taking it bit easy after the Epic so im bit out of shape at the moment. I haven’t done a lot of high intensity and have put on few kilos. She said she wanted to ride easy so I thought her easy might be good hard training for me.
I have driven up on Thursday with my client and registered at Thesen Island where the race village was. We had lovely dinner there and then Hannele accommodated me in her place close to the Heads. It was really cold in the morning but no rain.
It was quite tough to get out every morning out of warm bed as it was really cold. We had layered arm warmers, leg warmers, under shirts, gillets and jackets every day. I kept all my clothes only last day I took off the leg warmers during the race.
Day 1, start at Elephant Park
78km, 1600m ascent
The start was chilly but we got warm quite quickly with some steep climbs.
I was quite out of breath on the climbs and felt unfit while Hannele was chatting away to me and fellow riders.
I loved the route as it was quite a lot of single track and even though muddy it was lots of fun and all ride able. Having done the GR300 in February I expected the 200 to be easier but first day took us 4:25 min which was about hour longer that I expected but really great riding.
We finished 2nd ladies team 5 min behind Bike plus ladies. Most strong ladies were in Pietermaritzburg for SA Marathon MTB Champs so we were lucky.
70km, 1800m ascent
Start at Rheenandal
Another cold start and we headed straight up longish hill I could feel my legs from the previous day. We managed to stick with Bike plus ladies to the top but after a descent there was a river crossing where I got a bit stuck behind few people and had to push following steep single track climb and lost the ladies.
Once out of the bush and on top we had beautiful views and some more steep climbing to water point 1 where we had 2 shots of Hammer Peanut Butter energy gel and got going again.
Long downhill in forest and off we went up again. Hannele stopped few times to fix her saddle. Just after 2nd water point where we hit amazing Enduro single track she lost her saddle completely. I think she lost one of the screws and had to take the saddle under her shirt and ride without it for 25kms to the finish!!!
As I said before she is pretty strong so I don’t think she mind that much and rode standing. I kept ahead for a change and she rode behind me to get a bit of free wheeling.
Amazingly we still finished 2nd ladies. it was quite funny getting to finish and she took the saddle in her hand and wave with it to the commentator.
58km, 800m ascent
Start in Harkerville
Harkerville is famous for its Red route through indigenous forest and sea views.
This morning was the coldest and the organizers even put a gas heater to the start chute! How thoughtful! Off we went and my legs felt the worst out of the 3 days and not much power. I tried but got passed by lot of people and was thinking of poor Hannele. Her patience is huge! The forest was surprisingly not so muddy and the roots were slippery as much as I thought they would be. We enjoyed the single track but I thought there could have been more. Soon we were heading out of the forest towards Knysna on gravel bumpy road. Once on top of the hill above Knysna we got really amazing view of the flat sea and surrounds. I felt like stopping and taking a pic but then I was the slower one so rather not:)
Once down first bumpy then few roots downhill we got to the flat finish. Hannele was in front powering it. I’m usually not great on the flat so took it as a great training and managed to keep the legs turning and pushed all the way till the end. The last bit of push was my highest heart rate on that day.
We were very lucky with the weather as we had sunshine every day.
The organizing was superb. Food was at the Tapas bar and Sirroco restaurant. Both were lovely with proper wintery food including healthy vegetable soup, sea food curry, chicken lasagne, etc. Really something for me vegetable lover.
We also got some amazing kit from Cape Storm – winter jacket, wind riding jacket, arm warmers and as 2nd ladies we won sleeping bag, hoodie and Amped portable charger.
Thank you Hannele for being great patient partner and your hospitality, Hammer for their energy gels and recoverite in the finish, Seattle Coffee at the start and finish, Trek and Nakd energy bars, Squirlube and ITEC and Pat and Louise for organizing great event and Dion for lift and company.