If you are wondering about the title of this post, I’m only whining wailing because the 2013 edition of the FNB Wines to Whales is officially over, and we have to wait another full year before we can tackle what for me was one of the best events of my racing calendar!
Taking m second consecutive Wines to Whales title, this time with a different partner, Nico Pfitzenmaier, was an extremely memorable experience. Last year’s event completely blew me away, and I found it hard to conceive that they could top it, but they did. I have to start this blog off by saying a massive THANK YOU to the Wines to Whales organisers, FNB, Reeds Motor Group, Food Lovers Market, Nashua, Peri, First Ascent, Suunto and all the other supporting sponsors that are putting money into creating and building up this race into something that is setting the benchmark for stage racing internationally.
My goal was to write a daily post of how the racing was going, but after day 1, I just got swept away with all the goings on of the even and didn’t get any further, so here it is…
After claiming the lead of the race on the first day , things played into our hands once again on day 2 starting and finishing in Oak Valley. We found ourselves on the front of the race with team EAI of Hanco Kachelhoffer and Johan Rabie, after our closest rivals Team Blend/ Cannondale of Darren Lill and Andrew Hill had a few chain issues and were a little bit behind us. Instead of wasting energy and trying to open up the gap on the flats and climbs, we focused on what we are good at, singletrack! And boy was there lot’s of it. With team EAI having a road racing background, we were able to pull away without too much effort. Nico and I worked perfectly together as a team, with him setting the pace on the singletrack and me on the climbs. Before we knew it we had finished stage 2 in a time of 2 hours 41.50, 3mins ahead of Hanco and Johan, but more importantly 5 minutes ahead of our closest rivals Darren and Andrew. We had so much fun out there it hardly felt like racing! We now had the luxury of heading into day 3, Oak Valley to Onrus with an almost 8 minutes lead. Mountain biking can be a cruel sport though, and anything can happen!
After resting up and relaxing as best we could, and Nico whipping up some of his vegan, wheat free power smoothies, we were ready to tackle the final stage to Onrus. It was as we passed Houw Hoek that we had a little drama, with Nico’s chain dropping and getting jammed. We lost about 1 minute and had to chase back down one of the most technical and treacherous places of the whole event heading into Botrivier. We managed to keep our cool and caught up to the group, having spent some energy in the process. With 5 teams all riding together we wound our way towards Hermanus all while enjoying some awesome new single track that the organisers had cut.
With 30km to go, team Blend/ Cannondale put some pressure on us and managed to create a small gap. Nico and I chased hard and managed to stop the gap from growing, but never let it get larger than 1 minute. With the sea in sight, and some big swell rolling in in the distance we had the opportunity to really enjoy the final few km’s as we descended our way through Hermanus and into Onrus caravan park to claim the overall victory!
For me, taking the win for a second year in a row has been a truly memorable experience. The support from family, friends and fans has been amazing, and it has made every last hard Kilometer on the bike this year totally worth it. With this being the final race for the season, I really can’t think of a better way to finish it off!
I am pleased to say that I can take a well deserved break from the bike, and put a little more focus on my surfing. Thank goodness the swell is rolling in!
I will let you know how the off season is treating me.
Keep the fins water side down!
PS: Catch all the action recorded on stage 2 and 3 as recorded on my Suunto Ambit 2 GPS watch, really interesting data!