The season has begun! Finally after months of preparation and procrastination, the local racing scene has kicked off and it started with a bang!
Our first event of the season was the opening round of the WP provincial series which was held at the Taal monument in Paarl. This is a special place to me as it was actually where I first rode downhill and I consider it my home track. I have done so many runs on that track it is ridiculous! The shuttle is so quick, you can do a run and get back to the top in six minutes!
Anyway it was good to be back there racing after a two year break from the venue. It is a tough one as you need to do lots of runs on the track to really feel the flow and pick up that last bit of time you need. The soil is also extremely slippery which makes things tricky. I was having a blast in practice and felt ready, however I ended up being third in seeding behind Johann Potgieter and Adi Van Der Merwe which was a bit concerning. I knew I needed to pull out the stops for the final run. I managed to do just that and nailed my run going four seconds quicker to secure the win! My good friend Johann Potgieter and Theo Erlangsen rounded out the podium.
It was actually quite a relief to win after the long break as you never know what the other guys have been up to. I think as an athlete it’s so important to believe in your program and know that you have done all that you could have by race day. It was a great feeling but there was not much time to enjoy it as the first national round was the very next weekend at Helderberg Trails.
In 2016 I had won that event comfortably but I knew it would be tough non the less as the track conditions are always different and I had not ridden the track since the last event there. The track would also be almost a minute shorter this year which added to the difficulty as there was less track to separate people timewise. Never the less it was the same situation for everyone and I was feeling confident after the past weekend. Things however would turn out to be a bit more difficult for me this year as the week leading up to the event I has quite a few late nights which was not ideal and then subsequently got sick the day before the race. Also, the weekend was going to be hectic as a very good friend of mine was getting married in Gansbaai on the Saturday evening. What I ended up doing was practicing all day Saturday and then shooting through to Ganbaai (two hour drive ) to attend the wedding. Come 10pm I drove back to Somerset West and luckily was able to stay over at a friend’s place to save driving time. I can’t say I was feeling 100% on race day morning but no excuses, I was there to do a job and give my best!
I had two practice runs prior to seeding and felt reasonable but maybe not where I felt I should be. I was still positive heading into seeding and wanted to get a gauge of where I am at but not show all my cards. I did just that and seeded third behind Theo Erlangsen and Johann Potgieter, less than two seconds back. I felt confident I could shave five to seven seconds off my time heading into finals so I felt confident and just knew I had to put it together. I am normally fairly relaxed at the top just before my run but this time I was a little more on edge which meant when I started I made a few mistakes early on as I was just pushing a little too hard. I settled in about a third into the track and nailed the rest of my run but when I crossed the line and heard it was just three seconds quicker than my seeding time I knew it was not enough. Johann Potgieter ended up killing his run and pipped me by 1,5 seconds. It was definitely a tough one for me but at the same time I am happy given the circumstances and also I am happy for Johann as it has been a while since he last won.
I have also had such a good run of wins over the past two years and I knew that it would come to an end at some point. However now this has given me a kick up the backside and I am more motivated than ever to get back on top! I learnt a lot in the past couple of weeks and I know now that it is simply impossible to do everything all the time, but we can try right? 😉
All in all I am happy and so excited for the year ahead, I hope to make all my family, friends, supporters and sponsors proud!
Until next time …