The past weekend was the first Western
province mountain bike cross country race held in Slanghoek. With a new course
and spectacular venue this race held a lot of promise. As the rebellious Pure Savage
rider, Carl Toua, I thought now is the time to try my hand again at XCO racing
again. With my last XCO race being 12 years ago on a 26er mountain bike with V
brakes this was going to be an eye opener.
Hammer! Photo: Full gas racing
Early on Saturday morning my boet, Christo and I headed out to register and practice the course. After
registration we “suited up” and head out for a practice lap. We soon realized
that it is going to be one long day in the pain cave. With plenty of short punchy climbs and awesome single track with the odd rock drop, jump and even a
lengthy rock garden there was no place for recovery or hiding from the effort.
We then settled in and watched some awesome
racing among all the different categories. With some huge talent on display our
XCO scene looks promising. We soon realized that we actually needed to bring
someone along to hand us bottles in the feeding zone. We then made a plan and
said we will just leave our cooler bag under a random gazebo and stop and grab
our bottles. That never happened in the race even though my body screamed out
for another bottle in the race. 

At 11 o’clock we started our warm up and we
both realized that we made an amateur mistake by eating those toasted cheese
and tomato sandwiches, turns out not the best pre-race meal. However we lined up on the start line at 11.30. With 5 laps to do in the sub
vet category, a record turnout and some serious names on the start line we knew
it is going to be a hard day under the African sun.
Looks like someone needs some Savage Kit. Photo: Full gas racing
As the gun went off in true Pure Savage
style I tried to stick with the front guys up the first incline. Hitting the
first single track I realized that the practice lap we done helped absolutely
zero as it was a completely different course all together after the other
categories bedded the course in. With massive amount of dust you just guessed
where the right line was and pushed and hope you come out on other side. 

As we
snaked up the long single track climb of the day me and the guys around me were
all breathing through straws and everyone had strange expressions on their
faces as if to say, “this is a massive shock to the system”. As we came down the next
downhill section Donovan le Cok (leader at the time) fell in spectacular
fashion and was out of the race. Luckily he was ok enough to snap some pics! Shot Donny! We continued and nearing the
end of the first lap I realized I burned nearly all my matches and I would be
paying the price towards the end of the race.
Soldering on lap 2 and 3 my boet and I raced together and just tried to keep the pace up while trying to get rid of the floods of
lactic acid in the legs. With temperatures over 30 degrees it felt like we
riding in a sauna.
On lap 4 and 5 it was all about survival
and staying on my bike with fatigue setting in concentration was at an all-time
low and the technical stuff became more and more challenging. With some close
calls I raced to the finish with my boet just finishing ahead of me. With an
average heart rate of 182bpm I felt I did the Pure Savage team proud even though I
didn’t finish in the position I wanted. Next outing I won’t listen to my Pure Savage members that said I must just hammer from the start, I will just take the abuse on the Wattsapp group.
Congratulations to Neill Ungerer for his
win in the sub vet category and also to all the other winners in their respective
categories. Big Kudos up to the Western Province Mtb commission for organizing
an awesome event and also the Slanghoek resort for their spectacular venue.

Next mission is to get the Pure Savage
riders to all buy mountain bikes and join for the next XCO at Rhebokskloof on
the 25th of February. 

Race report written by the newly elected Pure Savage MTB captain, Carl Toua! (He drew the shortest straw)