Multiple South African mountain bike marathon champion Robyn de Groot retired from elite cycling in May last year. After nearly an 18-month hiatus from taking part in events she is easing back into the action at the 2023 Dr Evil Classic. Stage 2 – on Friday, 22 September – provided a few reminders of why she is happy to be taking it easier now, despite still wining the solo women’s race on the day and placing well inside the top 10 overall once again.
“To be honest, if it wasn’t a race, I wouldn’t have ridden my bike today,” De Groot laughed after a muddy day out on the trails of Hakerville, the MTO Group and Cairnbrogie. Rain had fallen overnight and throughout the first hour and a half of day’s riding on a 45-kilometre-long course. This made the dual tracks through the pine plantations, in particular, exceptionally muddy.
“I haven’t done an event since May last year,” de Groot noted. “It’s good to be back, not racing but taking part. Seeing familiar faces and reconnecting with the community. I’ve been so busy since stepping away and I’ve been involved with cycling through coaching and supporting clients at events. But it’s great to be back on a bike at an event again, especially such a great one.”
De Groot as second over the line on Thursday’s Stage 1, but a squeeze through the opening singletrack saw her loose the leading solo men and men’s teams on Stage 2. None-the-less she still comfortably won the women’s category on the day, once more, and placed in the top ten too. Only a handful of the fastest riders, some on eBikes were quicker than the George local on the day.
“The rain and the mud made it tough today,” she said. “I don’t ride in the rain anymore, thankfully. The days of having to go out and train, regardless of the weather are behind me! It was still fun out on the trails though and I was reminded again of how incredible the riding here is.”
“The work that Plett trail builders put in is clear to see. Cairnbrogie and MTO are just down the road from me, really, but I don’t get out here to ride often enough. I really should spend more time here. It’s also the perfect place to train for other events.”
For now, though, the focus remains firmly on the Dr Evil Classic. With one day to go the riders have a day filled with the MTO Group’s Garden Route Trails to look forward to. Stage 3 is hosted entirely on Cairnbrogie and in the MTO plantations. It is a short, 38 kilometre long stage, but features 800 metres of climbing too.
The day also presents a final opportunity to win a SCOTT Strike eRide and a Bosch Fontus 18V cordless leisure cleaner, courtesy of SCOTT Sports Africa, via the bike brand’s social media competition. Participants can also win a Switchbag by posting the day’s fastest time, up the Alp d’Joe Strava segment. To find out more follow the race on Facebook, Dr Evil Classic, or Instagram, @drevilclassic. For more information on the event visit www.drevilclassic.com.