WHITBY cyclist Catherine Williamson has told of her excitement of finishing second in an event dubbed South African World Championships.
Catherine said: “The Cape Argus pick and pay road race has been a big event on my calendar the last three years, you can’t help but get caught up in the whole atmosphere in what is dubbed South African’s World Championships with around 35,000 riders taking part.
“You’re not a real cyclist until you have done the Argus and the question that always follows ‘have you done it?’ is ‘what was your time?’
“As a racing cyclist this one is always a funny one, I don’t think I have ever done a bike race and stopped my watch as I cross the line.”
Since January, her whole focus has been the ABSA Cape Epic Mountain Bike Race and training for an eight-day race of distances over 100km left her with numerous podium positions for off road races but not so good results on the road.
Speed on the road had been an issue, especially up climbs.
Catherine wasn’t even sure she would finish this Argus in a contending group - especially with the temperature 22C at 5am which she found
“a little concerning”.
She recalls: “The excitement at the start gets me every time, hundreds of cyclists milling around in the dark, dance music blasting out and, to add to it, seeing my parents and friends there after nearly two months away from home.
“Once we got going the group was pretty edgy and I stayed near the front out of trouble. The climbs were rode at tempo so no real accelerations until round midway where you turn back in land.
“Over the top I was just off the front group and we chased back on.
“Once the pace eased at the front so more riders tagged back on and so started the fight to stay near the front again.
“It was the same up Chapman’s Peak and the final climb up Suikerbossie during which I was so thankful for some electrolyte as my calves and quads were threatening to cramp.”
Catherine remained in the top 10 towards the finish, keeping a close eye on the National Champion when she was in front with a view to getting away and ‘solo’ into a victory.
Instead, there was a stampede to the line.
“I stayed right, in the wind but not boxed in as the group was too twitchy.
“About 300m to go I started my sprint,” she said. “Not on anyone’s wheel, I had no-one to hide behind and expected a herd of riders to come past. Instead I heard a big crash so just kept going and came over the line second woman with National Champion, Ashleigh Moolman, taking the win and Lynette Burger taking third.
“One by one the injured riders came through the finish which is always a terrible sight.
“One of my team-mates broke a finger and another looked like she’s been tattooed with chain rings. There were a few nasty accidents in another team too and I heard a few guys had broken collarbones.
“I guess that’s the danger in road cycling.
“I was so pleased to get on the podium for the third time in three years and to top it off won the combined Road/Mountain Bike award for the Argus Mountain bike event the previous week. I also won first 30-35 years but that one I intend to keep quiet.”