The WP cross country mountain bike champs was held at Bloemendal this past Saturday. With one Savage rider, Aaron opting for the tough darling brew race and other Savages sticking to their roadie roots and doing the PPA sportif. Carl was left lining up again as the solo Savage rider with his brother, Christo for company.
For the WP champs the course got some new sections since the WP XCO cup that took place 2 months ago. With a steep extra hill added, new technical downhill section with some knarly drop-offs and an extra gap jump it was a true test of fitness and skill level. With some rain falling earlier on Saturday morning the dust settled and the course had load of extra grip perfect for a fast race.
We only lined up at 12:45 for the start of the subvet category. With the lap being longer and with more climbing we were allocated to do 4 laps. With a lot of nervous tension on the start line we all lined up awaiting the gun.
With the gun going off megawatts were put down with the pack sprinting down the first straight. There was quite a long drag and after the first 500 meters Christo had sprinted ahead and left the rest following him around 50 meters behind. As we hit the first steep incline I started feeling this pace was too hot and started to fall back (against Pure Savage race strategy) with Darryn, Donovan and Tim sprinting up the hill in pursuit of Christo. As we hit the first single track a 4 man group was forming just ahead. I kept on pushing hard in the single track trying to catch the front gasping for air like a fish out of water.
On lap two I was trying to just keep the pace steady and entertaining the crowd with all my facial expressions as a result off all the pain I was in.
Lap 3 on the second climb I saw Darryn slowing down and I tried to get little more watts from the engine room and chased up the climb. I caught up with Darryn and in Savage style passed him straight away. We rode together for a while and the gap started growing until about 15 seconds with Donovan still around 30 seconds in front of me. I felt my legs starting to feel good and started chasing after Donovan.
With the final lap starting my brother had a comfortable lead of around 1 minute and I was in 3rd place with Donovan in front of me. I managed to catch up with Donovan just before the technical ascent and passed him and knew it is crucial to keep him behind me down the last technical descent because Pure Savage is actually a road team and we struggle on the singletrack. On the final climb Donovan made his move and I had to dig really deep to stick on his wheel. I just about did. With a last technical section and then the home straight I knew it will come down to a sprint finish. With Donovan leading out the sprint I managed to edge him on the line in a real roadie finish!
Thanks to the Western Province commission for an awesome event and season. Congratulations to Christo as the new Western Province champ in the subvet class and also to all the other respective champions. The XCO season has now come to an end for 2017. It was great fun to race each other and making good mates in the process. Hope to see more cyclists joining this format of cycling next year.