Heading into the weekend our new team had a considerable amount of pressure to perform in two events in two locations, on opposite sides of the country. Shaun-Nick was the Attawkas Ultra marathon in Oudtshoorn and I was up the Drakensberg for the Eurosteel Drak decent 2 day stage race. After two days of racing on my side I’d come away with our first podium finish and then our first stage race victory. The event follows the Umzinkhulu river down from the Drakensberg mountains towards Underberg town and then onto Coleford nature reserve on day 2. The route had been considerably improved from the previous editions and incorporated a start at the famous Glen Cairn farm home of the SANI2C and Joberg2c and utilised the Sani Spoors trail network before linking up with the original route down the river valley.
I raced the first day with the intention of clearing the cobwebs out and trying to force the body out of the base training phase into the new season, I also wanted to make sure I put our new team on the map with a stage win. The plan worked well and I found myself upfront with a gap early on in the race after pushing hard on all the initial climbs. This gave me a solid lead which I was fortunate enough to gain as i crossed the line 1st overall with a healthy lead heading into day 2.
Day 2 was largely unknown to many of the racers with the new start and trails being added to what was already a brilliant track. This made for some great technical riding upfront as I once again pushed the effort from the gun and increased my gap back to the chasing riders. I accumulated a good time gap and could settle into a consistent pace all the way to the finish without taking unnecessary risks over the tricky rocky sections. In the end I crossed the line in 1st place overall to claim back to back wins at the event.
Unfortunately Shaun-Nick wasn’t as lucky down south with a major mechanical forcing him out of contention. At about the 45km mark he twisted a chain and them had puncture which put him far back in the field trying to make inroads over the 115km route. Unfortunately it wasn’t his day on the bike but we’ll definitely put the bad luck behind us as we head full steam into the rest of the season.