Jennie Stenerhag

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Good preparation at the Knysna Bull



I stayed in the Tankwa area after the race for about 10 days, it was very nice to be there and just concentrate on training, eat and sleep, I was not even in a shop for 10 days!! I came home for one night and then Craig and I packed the car and drove the 6 hours to Knysna for the Knysna Bull, we were racing as a mixed team again, same as last year. It is a small well-organized event which is perfect preparation for Cape Epic. Since it's not such hard competition and I am racing with Craig, who is stronger than me, we can go as hard as I want without having to be nervous and all that stuff which comes when it's an important race. There are maybe less single tracks here which normally is more fun but this race gives the speed instead. So in many ways it is really good preparation!

We arrived on Thursday afternoon in good time before the prologue, but we could not find the owner of the apartment we had booked and the phone number on the booking did not work, it took us about 1.5 hours to find them and get into the apartment. We were now late for warm up for the prologue which started at 6.30pm, we were the second team to start! We rode a bit of the 6 km long route but after only a few minutes I hit something hard and punctured! I never puncture, but now it happened, we quickly plugged the hole with my Sahmurai sword, and got to the start 1 minute before our start time! The prologue went well and was over in 13 minutes!

We cycled to the start of the first stage, which took about 1 hour. The start is a bit later at this race, 8am, which is unusual here in South Africa! We started with 3 kilometers climb up to the “King of the mountain” just to open up the lungs properly! I was the first girl up ,so claimed the QOM 1st place, Craig and I ended up in no-mans-land and rode on our own for the whole stage without seeing any other riders, the 72 km stage took us 2 hours and 48 minutes. Craig was strong and sat at the front most of the day. We were the first mixed team in.

It rained in the morning of the second day and we were thinking about taking the car to the start but changed our minds last minute and still rode the hour to the start. It was cold, muddy and tough day in the rain and even though the distance was shorter with less meters of climbing it took us longer in time. This day had more single tracks and was more fun, the mud also made it more interesting! After all the weeks of heat and the draught we are having in the Western Cape we really enjoyed riding in the rain and get a bit of  cooler weather for a change. We ended up racing a men’s team this day, they got away from the start, but we passed them and shortly after they caught us and then we got away again, and so it went on all day. Eventually we managed to get away on the last climb and finish ahead of them.

We had been a little early at the start the previous 2 days, so we decided to leave a bit later on the last day. We had decided to meet Erik and Rob and ride together, but we could not find them and eventually had to leave, now even later. We must have had a headwind because it took longer than the previous day when we went out the same way and it was now getting late. It was also further than we expected so we had to push quite hard towards the end! Afterwards when I looked at my power meter my effort was not that much less  than in the race! We got to the start a few minutes before 8am but luckily, we were not the only riders being late so they postponed the stat by 10 minutes! It was another very muddy day and I really enjoyed it, more than I normally like mud! I had my new Continental Cross King tyres and they gave really good grip! We raced on and off once more with the same men’s team and once again we got away towards the end. Craig was really strong this weekend!

It turned out to be a good training weekend and of course it is always fun to win, especially together with Craig. The smaller races always get a bit more personal and everyone gets to know each other’s. At the finish they made us fresh smoothies as recovery, that does not happen at the bigger races. And not to forget the pie and coffee we received on the way to Knysna when passing Riviersondend! The competition took place in Knysna where Squirt lube comes from and the local petrol station, which is owned by a cyclist, have trained their staff to wash bikes really good, of course with Squirt BioBike, so we went there every day after the race and had the bikes washed for R25, what a bargain! That is good service!

The prize at this race is a R20.000 bursary from Collage SA and it was nice to be able to give that to the Knysna Sports Academy knowing that one or two of the kids can get an education! Ian who is running the academy is doing a really good thing for these kids!

Now it's nice to be home again for a week after being away for 2.5 weeks!





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