Xterra Knysna. Two words. Mud & climbing

Robyn Williams tackling the last concrete climb back into transition. I wore compression socks as protection against mud and falling ;). Photo credit Jeff Ayliffe

Robyn Williams tackling the last concrete climb back into transition. I wore compression socks as protection against mud and falling ;). Photo credit Jeff Ayliffe

I didn’t make plans to go up to Knysna as it just seemed too much to find accommodation and someone to drive with. But when my housemate, Nina, said she had accommodation and I was offered an entry I jumped at the opportunity to race. This was the Sunday before the race on Thursday. Very last minute for A-type Robyn. Now I had to get my head around the idea of racing.

Rewind. Training for Enduroman (more on this race in my next blog) had been going super well and I was putting in good 20/22 hour weeks. Then all of a sudden my body decided to rebel. My heart rate went crazy. I would wake up in the morning with a heart rate of around 65, I would stand up and take it after 15 seconds and it would be 112! This was totally not normal and very worrying as the difference between the two values is not supposed to be more than 20. Mine was closer to 50!

So I spent two whole weeks going stir crazy, doing zero training and waiting for my body to sort itself out. Needless to say I was rather stressed about where my fitness was and nervous about racing. But what the heck, I love racing so why not!?

We left for Knysna mid morning on Wednesday and drove through to Groot Brak where we would stay with friends of Nina’s. After a quick spin around the place we enjoyed a pasta meal, watched some Tour de France highlights and had an early night.

The next morning we drove the remainder of the distance to Knysna. As a #mtbretard (and A-type person) I really like to know the route before I race. This was not possible for this race and it added to my anxiety. All I knew was to expect lots of mud.

All too soon we were lining up on Pezula Estate’s Field of Dreams. We bolted off and I am sure that my HR hit 195 within 1 minute and stayed there for the remainder of the 3km run. The run was pretty tough, going into climbing singletrack soon after the start. And then we climbed and climbed some more. I was pretty much maxing out before hitting a steep concrete descent which took us back to transition. I was lying second lady as I swapped my running shoes for mtb shoes.

The bike immediately took us onto some muddy, rooty singletrack, but after that it was much less technical than I had feared. There was just a lot of climbing and a LOT of mud.

I am quite cross with myself as I ended up racing bmx style with my saddle 4cm lower that it should have been. I had recently got my grubby hands on a dropper seat post (oh so much fun!) and the saddle height had not been copied over. Oh well, you race and learn.

I lost some positions on the bike, but tried to keep focused and prepare to run well. Unfortunately it was the second 7km run that really showed me how unfit I was. I really struggled. It just went up and up and up some more. It was very technical and very muddy and I came very close to losing my sense of humour.

I passed one girl at the start of the run and one girl with around 400m to go to finish 4th woman. Carla van Huyssteen was absolutely dominant in taking 1st place! I was pretty happy with this result at my first Xterra Knysna and given that they took out my best leg, the swim.

This was the first race that I did with my new mtb PowerTap. Coach is stoked to have data from all my rides now and I am so enjoying doing intervals offroad. Huge thanks to the guys at Bicycle Power Trading who finally took the (not so subtle) hints as to what I so wanted! You guys rock!

We drove home that night after the race and arrived back in Stellenbosch at 23h00. Couldn’t afford to waste half of Friday. This Masters waits for no one!

Stillwater Sports once again put on a fantastic event. Always first class. Xterra racing is so hard! I will be back!

Many thanks to my sponsors for their unwavering support, Virgin Active, Bicycle Power Trading, 32Gi and the newly formed EnduroHub for which I am now an ambassador! Stoked!

Robyn large logo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *