Kate Slegrova spent the Christmas holidays in the Garden Route gem of Herolds Bay, so she was happy to note that Advendurance added the Garden Route Trail Series to their 2013 calendar. So she signed up for the last race of her year.
The race start was 25km from Sedgefield on the Barrington farm. There were various options to choose from: off-road duathlons, trail runs and short and longer routes of MTB. As always, I opted for the long MTB route on the 29th of December.
It was beautiful morning with few clouds promising a great day out – not too hot but still warm. At the registration tables I saw lots of familiar faces in amongst the new ones. It was great to see so many people who keep active over the holidays!
We set off at 7:30 and headed straight up into the beautiful green forest covered mountains. Ischen Stopforth and a few others left me behind and I started riding with Marleen Lourens, who is a strong and experienced mountain biker. We’re both training for the Cape Epic, so by Sunday our legs were already tired from fifteen hours in the saddle that week.
Never mind as this was a training race.
But once we got above the tree line a beautiful view was a great reward. Coming from fairly dry Cape Town, we really appreciated all the lush green indigenous forest which makes the Garden Route so special. After a long descent we headed off towards the newly built single track. And what a pleasure that was!
Similar in style to G-spot in Stellenbosch only with uphills, we had to work the legs and lungs too. Another longer and steeper climb later and we finished the last 10kms of the race through forest single track. Though fun, the technical trails were tricky on tired legs – with lots of trees to ride into and bridges to fall from into the beautiful river. I managed not to hit any tree nor fall off a bridge, and got to the finish in three hours and forty minutes. For 60kms, this is quite slow by my standards, but the total ascent was close to 2 000 meters, so it was by no means an easy ride.
Ischen Stopforth came home ten minutes before me to claim the last podium position, but with big racing goals ahead early in 2014 I wasn’t disappointed with the result.
The 60km ride at the Garden Route Trail Series is not easy, but it featured an awesome scenic route and was very well marked with lots of fully stocked water points. The water points were supplied with USN energy drinks, gels, fruit and carrot cakes from local farmers and a Seattle Coffee stall at the startfinish.
Advendurance put on a great race (well done guys!) and with the series featuring 8km and 12k trail runs and 10km, 20km, 40km and 60km mountain bike rides on both the 22nd and 29th of December they introduced many riders to the great trails of the area. If you didn’t take part in the races you really should go ride the Garden Route Trail Park’s amazing trails. You can find out all about the trails on offer at www.gardenroutetrailpark.com, and they’re part of the Big MTB Year too so you’ve got another excuse to plan a trip to the Garden Route.
More about Kate Slegrova…
Kate Slegrova has been putting in the hard miles on the bike over the festive season and January as she ramps up her training for a crack at the Epic. She’s already ticked the Attakwas off her to do list and next up are the Tankwa Trek and Garden Route 300 before the big race at the end of March. Follow her progress on twitter @KateSlegrova or book a training session with her at www.cycletraining.co.za.