Lee takes 3rd place at Giba Gorge Category 2 race, South Africa


It seems I didn’t need Yoda after all. I LOVE this country and it’s glorious weather and the course at Giba Gorge was so well designed!

Didn’t start well today though. We all woke up this morning and compared stories of feeling rough in the night. Poor Dave Fletcher was worst off and didn’t even make the start line. I had no idea what to expect of myself in this my first race of the season. My preparation over winter had been quality but a little stop start due to the weather. Today it rained. I was so glad. The temperature a cool 20 degrees allowing me to ease into racing gently (ease into racing gently? What?). I stood on the start line with Yolanda Speedy (got me thinking I should change my name) and decided to stay on her wheel as long as possible without bowing a gasket. The first lap I went hard but then backed off a bit as planned and a gap developed between me and the top 3. I consolidated my efforts and tried to find a steady rythem. I felt good. Strong despite being taken out hard by a bad overtake on a slippy bridge. I lost concentration on laps 3 to 5, forgetting to race so when the bell went for the final lap I realised I still had heaps in my legs. I put on the power again and clawed back a place feeling very strong but riding safe to cross the line in 3rd place, some valuable UCI points in the bag. The prize money will come in handy too!

The atmosphere and people at the race were amazing. Everyone is so friendly and generous here. Afterwards most of the elite women sat down on the huge sofas of the bike arenas cafe veranda and ate together while some kind boys washed our bikes (have I mentioned recently just how much I love my bike?). Well done Rourke, Ben and Paul my Orange Monkey-Cannondale house mates on their rides. 2nd, 5th and 18th respectively. Time to take the foot off the gas a bit now and take care of ourselves before our next Cat 1 race in 2 weeks time.

Racing in the jungle


We are here! Paul Beales, Dave Fletcher (Orange Monkey-Cannondale) and I flew to South Africa from Gatwick on Wednesday. The learning here is that at 33 years of age I can no longer go 38 hours without sleep. It didn’t help that my seat exploded during the Dubai to Durban leg forcing me to assume a complex yoga posture for the remainder of the journey. We got to our accommodation just outside Pietermaritzburg at 8pm last night and our senses were immediately blasted with the humidity, insect sounds and silhouettes of low, wide trees stretching out across the open veldt. Today, despite our journey, plane food and, in my case enforced yoga we got out on course practise cos our first race is tomorrow (yikes!). The Giba Gorge race course is fast flowing with steep ups through dense foliage and, to make life more exciting, heavy rain forecast. Oh yes. It was the first time out of my new Lapierre Team Race today too and she didn’t let me down. In fact, thank God for super bling bikes compensating for sub optimal rider performance. South Africa is beautiful and vibrant and I think I am going to grow to like it here very much. Unless I have a crap race tomorrow in which case, I never liked the place and its weather and the course was badly designed. Plan B is to subtly substitute myself with Yoda the monkey. His lightness and nimbleness should, I think, make up for his not being able to reach the pedals. I ll get him a tiny Cratoni helmet. Safety first, Yoda.

Faith in human nature

I have been overwhelmed with kindness today. Lily at Inverness airport put a sneaky speedy boarding sticker on my boarding card, John at Gatwick airport has just lent me £1 for a trolley, Sofitel Hotel Gatwick are letting me use their gym all afternoon and I just got a lovely smile from a teenager. Might try for an upgrade with Emirates! Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange