After riding in the national South African colours for the first time this past season in Europe, I really wanted to do it again. However, this year I also had my eye on adding the National Time Trial title to my palmares. It was a big risk to target both but with big risk came big reward: I’m happy to have walked away from Nationals with both the road and time trial titles!
Individual Time Trial – Thursday, 28 February
Nationals started with an individual time trial. Off the start ramp I felt good and I worked hard to set a leading time and hold it until the end. The elite women rode the same 33km course as the elite men and, to be honest, it was a little longer than I would have liked. It was also a shame not to see Cherise Taylor, the previous National Time Trial Champion, at the race since she has always been my biggest competition. However, I managed to set the fastest time on the day and claim the National Time Trial Champion title for the first time!
Road Race – Saturday, 2 March
Two days and a rain storm later, was the national road race which consisted of two laps of 56km each to make up a total race distance of 112km. Planning our team strategy before the race, we decided we just could not waste any part of the route and I was adamant on riding aggressively from the start. It was a big risk but I knew if we could pull it off as a team it would bring a big reward.
About 7km into the race, I stuck to my plan and pushed the pace on the very first climb. The move paid off and I managed to get away from the main bunch with three other riders: An-Li Kachelhoffer and Lise Olivier, and my Momentum Toyota teammate Sharon Laws. The break wasn’t cooperative, however, so, with the chasing bunch gaining ground, on the next lap of the main climb I attacked. I put the power down and successfully made a clean break. Determined to reclaim my title, I was prepared to work solo all the way to the end but on looking back, I was only too happy to see teammate Sharon bridging across to me on her own. I sat up and waited for her, and as a team, the two of us managed to build a sizeable gap and hold off the chasing pair for the remaining laps.
After a fast descent into Nelspruit, I was absolutely elated to cross the line and secure the national colours for another season! It really is a great honour to wear the green and gold stripes in Europe and I look forward to flying the South African flag high! Since Sharon isn’t a South African citizen, An-Li managed to grab the silver and Lise took bronze.
Big risks, big reward
In cycling and in life; if you want big rewards, you have to take big risks. I’ve come to learn when things don’t initially work out to keep believing and keep chasing, literally and figuratively! Where there is a will, there is always a way.
I was really impressed with the new faces amongst the racing women and the juniors all weekend, and I couldn’t help but remember that I was in their position only five years ago. I came to my first Nationals in East London in 2008 with high hopes, but the event quickly turned into hard learning experience made up of dropped chains, entry-level equipment, disappointment and lots and lots of chasing, that ended with being dropped.
It’s a big personal risk to put yourself through those learning experiences time and time again, especially since they often lead to disappointment, but eventually those risks pay off. Your attitude really determines your altitude and that’s why with big risk comes big reward. Don’t stop believing!
I’ve also learned that rewards are best shared: a big thanks goes to Sharon, who backed me on the day; to Carel Bosman who’s composure and calmness in the support car was infectious; my Dad, Johan and Stepmom, Sandy for their support; and my husband Carl, who is always willing to risk it with me!