Karkloof 2011 was always going to be an interesting one, but camping just adds more fun to the whole ordeal. My brother and myself left home on Friday to drive up to my sister in Westville and stay over on Friday night. After a little bit of shopping for a skotel braai and gas we were all set to make the trip to Karkloof early Saturday morning with the Juniors XC race being the first on the day starting at 7a.m.
We arrived early Saturday morning and even had time for setting up most of our camp site before I had to head out for some sprints to warm up on a very chilly morning. Without having the opportunity of riding the track before hand I was forced to ask around and find out from everybody else how the track was running. I happened to find out from others that the track was super slippery but still fun.
With a very small but elite bunch of riders, this was to be a fast and tight race. Entering the first lap we hit the single track for the first, of what was supposed to be 5 laps. However this was later changed to only 4 laps for our race. I entered the first single track in 4th but, with the sun still low between the trees making visibility difficult and with the slippery conditions gaps opened between all the riders. This combined with not having ridden the course before made me very cautious for my first 2 laps with the technical single track.
After slipping back to 5th later on in the 1st lap I tried to enjoy the course and learn the technical sections before the last 2 laps. With gaps forming right in the beginning it opened up the whole race and racing was a less tight than expected. This meant the last 2 I could almost relax. I continued to race hard and enjoy all the down hills however nobody would be seen until the finish line. I held on to my 5th on what was a super fun course would love to race it when its dry.
Camping seems to be just as interesting as the racing. Having little camping experience and not having thought the whole thing through we were left without most necessities such as tables, lights and water but we made the most of what we had to enjoy our stay. With the brother being the more practical to say the least it easy for me to let him do all the work in and around the camping site. But probably the best part is having every meal made for you thanks boet! =]
Our idea of camping resulted in the two of us sleeping in the car with our bags and food in the tent. Sunday morning was the start of the Karkloof classic with an 8a.m. start to the 60km marathon it was yet another early morning. The race started with 50 people in the A batch with included all the favorites’ in this strong field and myself. After a good paced start a big bunch of riders of about 10 were able to get a lead after one of the first single tracks.
I found myself in the second bunch on the road feeling quite a strong along with Carl Calverly, Andrew Mclean, Benmelt Swanapoel, and Matt Gouch. We were cruising quite nicely and were soon the front bunch on the road as all the leaders unfortunately took a wrong turn at about 7km. However, luck was also not on my side as I had a technical problem with my cassette, which lead to myself pulling out at the 13.3km mark.
I was able to get a lift back to the start where I had about 2 hours to relax and shower before the elite man in the 60km marathon would come in. Which I used to pack up our camp site.
Had an awesome weekend up at Karkloof which is an awesome event and really well organized with amazing riding for people of all skill levels with there being a 60km, 40km, 20km and a 10km race. Sad to end the weekend with a technical however, it is back on the bike for some last minute training for the first leg of the SA XCO series on Saturday at Cascades.