Team dormakaba cyclists Amy McDougall and Samantha Sanders have been gearing up for the upcoming Tankwa Trek taking place from February 7 to 10 in the picturesque Ceres Valley of the Western Cape and are looking for some strong early season competition.
Their preparation for the race included doing the Wine2Whales three-day race at the end of last year. Even though the team could not complete the event due to Samantha falling ill, the well-deserved break both took afterwards fell in line with their training schedule. This provided them with the impetus needed to take on the extreme Attakwas one-day mountain bike race in January.
“Although Attakwas was a challenging race for me, it was a good kick in the right direction. I have been working closely with Mike (Posthumus), the performance director of the team, and fine-tuning my programme and focusing on things like nutrition, strength training, and recovery,” says Amy.
Samantha finished second at Attakwas and feels the rest before-hand did her the world of good.
“I got back on to the bike refreshed and excited to ride. This has helped me focus and have a solid base to build for the rest of the season,” she says.
Both admit that the Tankwa Trek is well-attended and has a strong field this year which will result in some frenetic racing.
“This is an absolutely brilliant event with some of the most incredible riding. I know the racing will be challenging but the trails will definitely make it all worthwhile,” says Samantha.
Amy feels that the event has evolved considerably from its early days.
“Every year the organisers take the rider feedback seriously and put a lot of attention to detail both on and off the trails. They also introduce things they believe will make for a more positive experience. This year, for example, the biggest change is the addition of a prologue which will be fun and add to the excitement of the event,” she says.
Female involvement in the event has also gone from strength-to-strength over the years.
“One of the attractions of the Tankwa Trek is that it is a UCI S1 Category event. And while it is a brilliant event in its own right, it falls in perfectly with our Cape Epic preparations. In lieu of all that, we had a decent Elite field in 2018, and I expect that this year will be no different,” says Samantha.
Although it is a great event for professionals and amateurs alike, Amy cautions against taking it on if you are not prepared.
“Although very accessible to everyone, it is tough and technical but 100% doable. I think it is the perfect race for the intermediate rider to test themselves and push themselves to the next level. It is important to go into Tankwa completely prepared physically, with equipment and nutrition in check with a good base of fitness under the belt. If all the boxes are ticked, you are guaranteed to have one of the best four days of your life!”