The 4 stage Mountain Bike Race in Lanzarote started today with a short, fast 38km loop starting and finishing at Club La Santa. This is my third year taking part in the race and I’m hoping that the saying ‘third time lucky’ will accurately describe my experience over the next few days - I’m yet to win the overall race! The course was a little longer than last year due to protected birds choosing to lay their eggs on the original course. The additional KMs were on more technical terrain and longer race times reflected these changes.
A fast start was inevitable: in the men’s race there is close competition with The Bulls and Wild Wolf going head to head. For me a cautious start – I didn’t want to crash in the enthusiastic scramble – meant that I had a little work to do once we hit the first off-road section, but this was fine because it’s good training. There was a fair bit of wind so staying in a group was pretty helpful. I seemed to be alone more often than I was in a group – sometimes you need a little luck to get a good group – but again, I didn’t mind because working into the wind, I told myself, was great power training.
The tracks here are often fairly similar to those in South Africa and with the Cape Epic in March, the race in Lanzarote is perfectly timed to be able to test equipment and get a feeling for the loose, rocky and sandy terrain that we’ll encounter. The conditions are tricky and it’s important to stay focused, otherwise it’s really easy to make a mistake and the lava rocks are pretty unforgiving!
I felt strong and had a good feeling, despite all of the hard training in Gran Canaria over the last few weeks. Let’s hope that this feeling remains over the next three days. Tomorrow is a longer stage: 58km over more challenging terrain. Choosing good lines will be important to avoid puncturing on the sharp lava in Timanfaya national park. Continental protection tyres are pretty strong, but a bad line here could puncture even the strongest tyre!
Sally Bigham 1:30:49
Sandra Santanyes 1:45:19
Mar Franco Penuela 1:51:39
Sergio Mantecongutierrez 1:21:49
Simon Stiebjahn 1:22:05