It was time to hit the dust and trails in my valley, the North West province, for my first Xterra at Buffelspoort dam. I have always wanted to try this off-road thing as I come from the plaas and all. I just love the African bush and I absolutely love riding off-road. I finally got myself a nice mountain bike, but have only been on it about 6 times so far, so I really need to spend some more time on it. Everytime I hit the trails in Groenkloof I have this massive smile on my face that not even hitting the dirt can remove. What makes it even more fun is chasing the guinea(fools) in the single track and getting close to the zebra and giraffe. It is in Groenkloof that I am reminded that God has blessed Africa. Where else in the world can you see black and white striped donkeys? What helps with my sprinting capacity is trying to get away from the ostrich with babies. I usually have to turn into the hiking trails and take big drops to get away from them. As you can see I am enjoying myself immensely in Groenkloof.
Okay, back to the race.
It was so awesome to finally race against the guy that I admire the most, Conrad “Caveman” Stoltz. The first time that I saw him racing was at Club Mykonos at the All Africa Champs in 2004. It was there that I saw what a crazy bike rider he is. I was inspired. So it was super cool to have him next to me at the swim start. I was slightly worried though, as I really didnt want to get in his way because that would be like swimming under a buffalo! “Groot Boer Seun Conrad” is probably the only oke in the world who makes an XXL 29er look small.
Xterra is different to ITU rules. With ITU the water needs to be under 20 degrees for it to be a wetsuit legal swim, but with Xterra the water needs to be above 25 degrees before wetsuits are not allowed. The water in the dam was so warm that all I needed was my body wash and I could’ve been at home in the bath!
It was pretty easy to swim away from the guys, but I knew that we would need a very big gap on them out the water. I was overheating like my 1400 VW Golf in the middle of the Karoo in the hot water!
The two Rebels (Pieter and me) led by about a minute out the water even though we didnt swim hard. 1min is just not enough when you have an 80kg buffalo cranking it in the big blade bearing down on you! It didn’t take long for the Caveman to catch us. We just heard “Hier kom ek!” In the blink of an eye he was there and then he was gone. It was amazing to see him flying past us.
On the bike I had nothing in my legs. Guys were just catching me and dropping me and there was nothing I could do about it. Within 5km I had drunk both of my 32GI bottles – I realised something was not right, but giving up is never an option!
Go over, go under, go through, but never give up. So I just tried to get as much stuff in me as possible, stopping at all the water points and I lost quite a bit of time.
Out on the run I was angry as I had really wanted to have a good race. I came off the bike in 15th place and for the first 2km of the run I went way too hard. I stopped at all the water points, as well as to stretch out some cramps. From about 2km into the second lap I don’t remember anything. Apparently on the home straight I was weaving from side to side and hitting the barriers.
I fell across the finish line. When I came to there were medics hovering over me, I was receiving oxygen. I had heat stroke. I have always wondered if I would ever hit my limit and now I can say that I have. I had run myself into 10th place with the third fastest run split of the day.
Despite the way I felt throughout the race I had a lot of fun and enjoyed myself tremendously. I will be back for some more off road racing soon! Praise God for such an awesome sport.
Well done to Conrad! What an inspiring multiple world champion! More champions need to be as humble and down to earth as this big guy. Also well done to Dan and Stuart who rounded out the top 3. Keep it up boys!
I am recovering well and will soon be back to full on training. Next up is the ITU Cape Town sprint event. Then I will be hitting the dirt again in Grabouw at Xterra SA Champs.
Till I blog again keep on 😉