24 degrees, no rain and a light breeze, the perfect day to start the Pioneer. The Prologue kicked off at 10am, with the first riders getting to enjoy this amazingly designed urban course around Mossel Bay. It’s a 13km loop and started from the water’s edge at the Point with some steep climbing (23%) to the historic Point High School before hitting the hiking trail that follows the coastline. From here we passed the St Blaise lighthouse and Santos beach riding right next to the edge of the water.
I started at 11h16 which left enough time to explore Mossel Bay a bit and most importantly sleep in.
Quite eager to get on to the bike and to make the wait feel shorter I started warming up about 45 minutes before my starting time and rode up and down the roads of Mossel Bay. With my legs nicely warmed up I made my way eventually to the start where I got to know all the solo female riders. Not many female riders are crazy enough to do Pioneer solo and makes us a smaller group of 4 strong ladies, all eager to get to the finish in Oudtshoorn in one piece next Saturday. We started in one minute gaps and before I knew it I was in my max heart rate zone pushing up the first steep hill. After a few minutes I could see Lara-Ann Everts ahead of me, which kept me motivated to push through the pain up the 23 percent gradient. Once we hit the hiking trail I was in my element and soon caught up with Lara-Ann. At this point I could see the first lady Karin Van der Walt on the horizon making her way graciously on the amazing trail along the cliff. I kept on pushing with my lungs whistling and was determined to get closer to her. She started 2 minutes ahead of me and so I would have not needed to catch her as long as I got close. But I wasn’t sure how fast the fourth lady Carmen Andrews was behind me and so I was racing hard against the unknown. The trail ended with a steep technical descent that required some good bike handling and shortly thereafter I saw Karin just 100 meters ahead of me. From there we hit the pavement and I was starting to get into time-trial mode. We had only around 5km left mostly flat. I went all out uncertain how far Carmen was behind me. It was accelerating racing on the narrow pavement next to the water going around the corners in high speed while closing the gap to Karin meter by meter. I passed her at some point and after kept the lead for the last 2km. First lady in the Solo cat is pretty cool. I raced hard today, not thinking about tomorrow and the other killer days in the saddle, I wonder if my legs are going to like me when I wake up in the morning?
It is my first 7 day stage event and I am not sure what to expect, especially on day 3 and beyond. The main reason I am doing this event is to raise funds for Qhubeka with a goal to buy 6 Buffalo bicycles at the end of the event. So far we received donations for 1 bicycles. Help me to get to 6! Here is the link to make your dent in the universe: https://www.givengain.com/activist/142593/projects/10940/