I am now into the second half of my cycling season and it couldn’t have started any better. – By Jamie Penfold
I raced at the second and third round of the Provincial Spur schools series (the first round was earlier in the year) and managed to come away with the win in both races. Each year the level of competition increases with new faces entering the ranks and old ones improving from the previous season. This year was no exception. The increase in the level of competition means that I can’t afford to make even the slightest of mistakes, be it on race day or during the week in terms of sleep and eating patterns. I’ve been working hard to squeeze every bit of performance out of my body and I’m learning every day, I think Team Sky calls this ‘marginal gains’.
The second race of the series was held at Montana High school – about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The track is relatively flat and is full gas from the start. The whole second half of the track allows for little-to-no passing as it’s all single-track so getting into position is very important. I managed to gain a small gap and was first into the single-track, we all re-grouped and this led to a high-speed sprint finish to the line where I managed to grab first place ahead of my friend Josh Laughton.
The third race of the series was held on Bloemendal Wine Estate just outside of Durbanville. The track had a small climb and a long single track section. However, the main obstacle was the wind, this led to the race being very tactical and I managed to get the better of the second placed rider on the final climb. All that was left was a flat out sprint to the finish.
I am on a mission to qualify for the Spur National finals race in Magaliesberg. I have won this race twice in the past (2015 sub-junior and 2016 youth-men A) and I am training incredibly hard in order to try and make it three in a row. Winning the race is one thing but qualifying is another. With close to 50 young athletes from all over the Western Cape competing for a few limited spots, qualifying is always going to be tough but that’s only the first part. To stand a good chance at winning or doing well a person needs to be seeded in one of the first rows on the starting grid (10 people per row) the spots are allocated to the schools in the order that they finished last year. With my school finishing third last year we should have at least one rider in the front row… and the battle for first place in my school starts.
We still have the Western Cape final Spur league race which will be at Paul Roos Gymnasium on the 16 September. This will be my first XCO race on my new Merida 96 and also my first race on a dual suspension bike. Just 11 days later I will be jetting to Johannesburg and then driving to Mankele were I will participate in the annual Mankele 3 towers stage race with Hennie Van Wyk.
Until next time…