Sus the RECM Knysna 200
Date: 6 – 8 June
Location: Knysna, Western Cape
Distances: 78km (Day 1), 70km (Day 2) & 60km (Day 3)
By: Kate Slegrova @KateSlegrova
I decided to ride the RECM Knysna 200 on the Monday 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 I’m 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 drove up on Thursday with a client, Dion Joubert, and registered at Thesen Island where the race village was. We had a lovely dinner there and then Hannele accommodated me in her place close to the Heads. It was really cold in the morning but at least there was no rain.
It was quite tough to get out of a warm bed every morning, as it was really cold. We had layered arm warmers, leg warmers, under shirts, gillets and jackets every day. I kept all my layers on except for on the last day when it warmed up enough for me to take the leg warmers off during the race.
Start: Elephant Park
Stats: 78km, 1 600m 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 really 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 it was muddy the trails were still lots of fun and all rideable. Having done the Garden Route 300 in February I expected the 200 to be easier, but first day took us 4 hours and 25 minutes which was about hour longer that I expected, but really great riding.
We finished 2nd in the ladies team category, 5 minutes behind the Bike Plus ladies. (Most strong ladies were in Pietermaritzburg for SA Marathon MTB Champs so we were lucky…)
Stats: 70km, 1 800m ascent
Another cold start! We headed straight up longish hill right out of the gates and 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 leading 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. A long downhill in forest followed and off we went up again.
Hannele then had to stopped few times to fix her saddle. Just after 2nd water point where we hit amazing Enduro style single track and 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 minded that much… she just rode standing. I kept ahead for a change and she rode behind me to get a bit of freewheeling.
Amazingly we still finished 2nd in the ladies category. It was quite funny getting to finish and she took the saddle in her hand and wave with it to the commentator.
Stats: 58km, 800m ascent
Harkerville is famous for its Red Route through the indigenous forest and its sea views.
The morning was the coldest of the three and the race organisers even put a gas heater up at the start chute! How thoughtful!
Off we went and my legs felt the toll of three days of riding. I just didn’t have 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 as muddy as I’d expected, which meant that all the roots criss-crossing the trails weren’t too slippery fortunately. We enjoyed the single track, but I thought they could have included more. Too soon we were heading out of the forest towards Knysna on a bumpy gravel road. Once on top of the hill above Knysna we were treated to a really amazing view of the sea, the lagoon and beautiful Knysna. I felt like stopping and taking a pic but then I was the slower one already, so rather not. From the top of the hill we descended, along an initially bumpy and then rooty trail, to a flat section running into Knysna. 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. All in all great for me the vegetable lover!
We also got some amazing kit from Cape Storm – a winter jacket, a windbreaker riding jacket, arm warmers and as the 2nd placed ladies we won a sleeping bag, hoodie and Amped portable charger each too.
Thank you, Hannele, for being great patient partner and your hospitality, Hammer for their energy gels and recoverite at the finish, Seattle Coffee at the start and finish, Trek and Nakd energy bars, Squirt lube and ITEC and Pat and Louise for organizing great event and Dion for lift and company.