Weekends to look forward to – the Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge

So the World Triathlon Cape Town race, which happened this past weekend, marks 2 years since I started this blog. It began as a means of documenting what would be a very unique experience as I “went pro” for three weeks.

I was given three weeks notice that I had gotten a start slot for this prestigious race and I stopped all my studies for that short period of time and got myself into the best shape that I could. I dove into the icy waters of the Waterfront alongside my heroes and will forever have some pretty rad memories and pics to document the event.

Fast forward two years and my knees are too much of a mess for me to run. I decided I didn’t want to be around tri folk all weekend having to explain why I couldn’t race.

Instead the inaugural Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge jumped at me! Two days in a beautiful part of the world doing what I love with like-minded people. I was sold!

I begged and pleaded to get off work a bit early to allow Ila and me to drive out to our accommodation in Hermanus on the Friday, but a monsoon arrived and we decided that it would be wiser to drive through the next day.

An early alarm, some peanut butter and banana toast forced down and we were on our way. Despite the darkness of the autumn morning we could tell that the weather was going to be beautiful.

Day 1 was 52km with around 1200m of climbing that would take us from Arabella to Wildekrans Wine Estate. The route was not particularly technical apart from some rutted and washed away descents and we were seriously thankful for the huge amount of water that had fallen the night before which helped to compact the many sandy patches.

Day 1

I have really been struggling with my knees and at around half way my left knee started to hurt. I got slower as it got worse. I am used to pushing through the pain that comes from pushing your body faster and harder, but injury pain seems to be a different story. I eventually dragged my sorry, sore ass across the finish line in 10th place.

We had our bikes washed and stored them in the bike park at Wildekrans before being bused back to Arabella for the most amazing lunch spread at the pool. Ila and I decided to pack up early and head through to Hermanus for a nap before our friends, Lara and Maria, arrived.

Ila and Marianne taking their post-race stretching/ yoga very seriously

We spent the evening having drinks in town (milkshakes for the racers and wine for the non-racers) and making homemade pizzas with dough from Gino’s. Perfect between stage food! 🙂

The following day was another early alarm. Today’s stage would take us from Wildekrans to Arabella over 42km – much of it singletrack. After popping a myprodol (or two) I was keen to race again. I always say that one should never underestimate a MTB race. 42km can be deceptively hard, with lots of ups and downs. This proved to be the case. I was quite motivated to try and make up for the previous day’s ride and was quite happy with how I maintained focus for the whole stage – I had really struggled in the final 10km the day before so I made sure to stop and throw back some Coke with the last of my Skratch Labs at the last waterpoint.

I crossed the line in 10th place again as I was surprised to be pipped at the line by a fast-charging motivated woman! Love the aggression and competition!

GC results

Again, I am just seriously annoyed at my technical skills (or lack thereof) which I feel hold me back so much. It’s an irrational fear and I haven’t yet learnt how to conquer it. But I’ll keep on working at getting better.

Another lovely poolside lunch was followed by prize giving – we had to wait because Ila had come 4th overall and 1st senior lady. So in awe of how much she has improved on a bike since I met her last August as well as her mad tech skills!

The race was incredibly well put-together and applause must go to the Stillwater team who, without fail, put on arguable the best sports events in the country – maybe even the world! The tricky logistics of two venues were nailed-down, the food was amazing and most importantly the MTBing was fun and the race was a vibe!

Had such a rad time with an awesome bunch of girls

We dashed back to Stellies, I flew through a shower and then Maria and I were off to Cape Town to watch the elite men’s triathlon. The mad rush was worth it as it was amazing to watch the best triathletes in the world battle it out through the Waterfront.

Dinner with the family in Rondebosch and then back in Stellies by 22:00. So much for a relaxing weekend – what is that even?

At work at 7:30 the next day and it begins again.

I think it might finally be time to give some serious attention and rest to these poor knees of mine. I’ve been fighting it for so long and I can’t really stomach the thought of a proper break. What does one do if one can’t train? What do normal people do? I hope I never have to find out.

A massive thanks to everyone who enables me to do what I love – Specialized Bicycles for my lovely, capable Era Expert and the best kit and gear in the business; Bicycle Power Trading for the PowerTap that enables me to do the specific training that I need to when pushed for time; Skratch Labs for the no-nonsense nutrition that goes down a treat; Virgin Active for their amazing training facilities; TYR for the best wetsuits and swim gear and  G-Form protective gear for keeping my skin intact.






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