Monday, 21 April 2014


Location: Nieuwkuijk, The Netherlands
Distance: 90min
Status: UCI Class 2

Oh how I have missed this. The nervous twitching on the start line. The dust in my burning lungs. Lactic legs returning you to your saddle as you try to punch over another climb. Skipping over roots and coasting on berms before rocketting down man-made gardens embedded with stone. They say that distance makes the heart grow fonder and I am a true believer. This weekend I have fallen in love again with MTB'ing and wonder why the rest of the world lives in such denial..

After yesterday my body was ruined. I had skipped lunch, hunger flatted, cramped while working the clutch in the Honda Civic on the way home, and finally crawled into bed in all sorts of pain (after a blog of course). Acute pain I can handle, but yesterday saw the first signs of my chronic back injury returning to haunt me. The pain got worse overnight and I woke up wondering if I would even race today. I thought of the Commonwealth Games, dragged myself out of bed and jumped on the rollers while watching repeats of the Pietermaritzburg World Cup to keep me motivated- and once again my legs felt amazing.. go figure!

Forgot to pack the short sleeve jersey - what a novice!
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

Today was a good day because Jarrod was able to come and watch. He had fallen asleep in the Wiggle Honda team car the day before so I hoped that my race would excite him enough to at least stay awake! Bart Hazen, team photographer and friend had come along to celebrate Easter Monday with us and take some happy snaps for my collection. They were joined by Anton Vos while I lined up front row, with 40 girls eagerly waiting behind, and his cheeky comments made me laugh: 'You have to win today because my sister won here last year' he said with a smirk. I echoed back 'There are a lot of things that your sister has won that I can't even dream of!'

This was as technical as it got today - baby steps..
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

The mood was set. Team vans lined the start area and spectators scurried around the course. Jarrod last words 'nail the start' ringing in my ear. So here I was, going for hole-shot, where Jarrod had promised that if I was first to the corner, he wouldn't be disappointed if I pulled out on the second corner lol This time I was fifth- shit! We were completing a start loop before six laps of a 4.8km circuit and lets just say the first start loop wasn't my friend. I was 13th when I next saw Jarrod and I knew it wasn't good enough. The first half of the course stepped into smooth tight single-track. It wound around trees, into berms, across roots and the few technical sections were quite sedate. Minimal climbing sounds great at first, but this means no descending, which basically means no recovery. The second half of the lap opened up onto short stints of road and grassland where passing was made easy.

Breaking the elastic - off in chase of the leader..
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

I desperately needed these passing opportunities to make my way through the field. Up ahead a group of four was forming with Anne Terpstra, Annafleur Kalvenhaar, Laura Turpijn and Annemarie Worst building a lead. But by the time I reached the tail end of them, Terpstra had already made her move. The Dutch National XCO Champion rocketed to a 20 second lead and was never to be seen again. The battle for minor places forged on though. I towed Kalvenhaar and Turpijn around for two laps before attacking at the one hour mark. This put me into the red but did the job it was meant to. I was holding second place behind Terpstra who was a consistent top 10 finisher in the U23 World Cups last year- riding with her is no walk in the park so catching her would require a Usain Bolt sprint in the park!

Antos Vos catches us after the podium
Photo courtesy Bart Hazen

With two laps to go my legs were holding up, but my body felt physically exhausted. I knew I wasn't eating and drinking properly because I was so focussed on closing the gap in front and holding off the chasers behind. I just hoped that my body would hold out for the entire 90mins. I had three High-5 gels (sometimes I have up to 7) and barely a bottle to drink. Again, with World Cup practice in the forefront I pushed through to the finish line, amazed that my lap times only varied by 15 seconds! I am REALLY happy to finish second today. I was proud of my efforts yesterday and then surprised myself that I could race even harder today. It was nice to share it with Jarrod and cement my thoughts- this is exactly where I want to be :)

Results: Via Paasbike
Garmin Edge 510: Via Strava