Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph aim to pull out all the stops in defence of their Trans Baviaans title when the race starts in Willowmore on Saturday (11 August 2018).
The Gaileo Risk pair, who finished the 24-hour 230km mountain bike race in Jeffreys Bay in 10:39:10 last year, said their goal this weekend was to take nearly an hour off their previous time.
“Our main strategy will be to focus on consistency, eating a lot and staying efficient.
We want to start quite hard and find a good group, so I think we’ll go for the second bunch that makes a split,” said Hill.
She added that wherever they found themselves they would just want to sit at a comfortably hard pace.
“We can’t be faffing around or be unorganised. And because it’s a long period all the little bits of time we’re not riding make a difference and [this time] counts.”
Hill felt she had developed and grown a lot during the year. “I have a new bike, am almost a completely different rider, have lost a bit of weight and feel much stronger.”
They feel they work together very well as a team, with Ralph being a good pacer who knows where they need to be at all times and Hill bringing her own strengths to the partnership.
“I’m hardly ever making moves or trying to go ahead. We’re just always linked together. Her strength is on flats. She’s a diesel engine and can go forever, while I see anything explosive as my strength.
“Trying to bring it all together to make us the fastest is definitely what our roles will be.”
She added that the beginning was one of the hardest sections as everyone was excited and went out hard. Once you hit the second water point, the climbing started.
“You’ll know the pace you’re holding in the first four hours is not what you’re going to have for the rest of the race. It’s a challenge in itself trying to gauge what [speed] you’re going to sit at to make the time you’re aiming for.”
Hill felt it was a unique event in the sense that not only was she pushing her body out of its comfort zone in terms of the time she would by riding, but also because it was an opportunity to train her mental strength.
“You teach yourself how to convince yourself to keep going and believe the end is near.
“It takes a lot of courage and commitment and sometimes you have to be in a situation where you’re a bit uncomfortable because that’s where you start adapting, changing and growing.”