As the title of this post reads, it doesn’t quite describe what the reality is. Every year 1000+ riders line up on the start line of this event that has gained legend status. For many it is the first race of the season, and as a result, the Attakwas attacks back.
What I mean by this is that this brutally tough event nails you. As the racing dies down over the Christmas season opportunities to get race fit become few and far between, and as a result the race is a huge shock to the system. For me, lying on the ground after the finish not quite being able to find a position that would alleviate the pain coming from every part of my body, I sincerely regretted 2 months of not racing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been training hard, but nothing can prepare you for an event like this.
I finished the gruelling event in a respectable 6th place, and also happened to be the 3rd South African across the line. Christoph Sauser(Specialized) won the race ahead of Stephan Sahm(Team Bulls) and Gert Heyns(Scott FR). Matt Beers, Konny Looser and I just couldn’t hold the front 3 and had a great ride through the Attakwas reserve together. My finish meant that I also fell into the new “Ratel” category, which is 5 finishes of the event.
Over the years I have learnt some important things at this event to make it to the finish in one piece(most of them the hard way); Pace yourself. Going too deep in the first half of the event WILL kill you. It’s better to start slow, and pick up the stragglers towards the end. Tyre choice is critical. Put new tyres on if you can afford to, ones with aggressive tread and a high volume. The best tyre I have used at this event is the Vitorria Barzo. Dual Suspension. No explanation needed. Good nutrition in an ultra event is key. Choose something you enjoy drinking and eating. Trying to get an energy bar down your neck in the last hour that just simply tastes siff is a hassle, trust me. I used Cadence Nutrition’s Marathon and Classic Gels, and then home made date balls, which were a big hit towards the end!
3 Seasons ago in 2012 I rode the Attakwas event on a Rocky Mountain for the first time, where I won the KOM. Since then I have excelled on their bikes winning National XC events, racing World Cups, and finishing, winning Wines to Whales, twice, and most memorably finishing World Champs in South Africa as the first South African Elite male in front of a home crowd. Truly special stuff. It seems fitting then that Attakwas be my last race for them. It is a brand I have really loved being involved with, but unfortunately I was left with no choice but to look for a new bike sponsor at the beginning of the year. I truly loved the ride guys. So thank you.
On a brighter note, Cannondale have stepped up massively in support of me, and I am super stoked to announce that I will be competing on their bikes for the 2015 season! I am really happy to be involved with a really established company who produce amazing bikes. So from now on, #iridecannondale
Keep your eyes peeled for my next post with some exciting news about my next race.
Until then, keep it rubber side down.