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Racing into the off season

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A puff adder takes it all in at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

A puff adder takes it all in at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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The Cape Pioneer Trek feed zone even offered a view.

The Cape Pioneer Trek feed zone even offered a view.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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A view from the Cape Pioneer Trek.

A view from the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Teammates Bobby Behan and Christoph Sauser at the finish of the Cape Pioneer Trek

Teammates Bobby Behan and Christoph Sauser at the finish of the Cape Pioneer Trek
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Bobby Behan cleans off after a stage of the Cape Pioneer Trek.

Bobby Behan cleans off after a stage of the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Bobby Behan cramps at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

Bobby Behan cramps at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Cape Pioneer Trek route designer Katot with Christoph Sauser.

Cape Pioneer Trek route designer Katot with Christoph Sauser.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Christoph Sauser finds a great bakery in Frenchyland.

Christoph Sauser finds a great bakery in Frenchyland.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Hanging out at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

Hanging out at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Hiking at home in Switzerland.

Hiking at home in Switzerland.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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It was a long hike up, but the view back toward home was worth it.

It was a long hike up, but the view back toward home was worth it.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Lene Byberg is thirsty after the Roc d'Azur.

Lene Byberg is thirsty after the Roc d'Azur.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Men's Health photo shoot.

Men's Health photo shoot.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Racers get to spend time at the beach at the Roc d'Azur.

Racers get to spend time at the beach at the Roc d'Azur.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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A relaxing finish, with pizza and coke, at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

A relaxing finish, with pizza and coke, at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Ride scenery in Stellensboch, South Africa.

Ride scenery in Stellensboch, South Africa.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Riders go through the African jungle at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

Riders go through the African jungle at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Burry Stander gets his bike checked early in the morning before the Roc d'Azur.

Burry Stander gets his bike checked early in the morning before the Roc d'Azur.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Christoph Sauser racing at Roc d'Azur.

Christoph Sauser racing at Roc d'Azur.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Team ride at Roc d'Azur

Team ride at Roc d'Azur
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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The start of the Cape Pioneer Trek.

The start of the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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The thorns were everywhere at the Cape Pioneer Trek.

The thorns were everywhere at the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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There was plenty of time to fix the only flat during the Cape Pioneer Trek.

There was plenty of time to fix the only flat during the Cape Pioneer Trek.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)
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Yacht time in Cape Town.

Yacht time in Cape Town.
(Image credit: Christoph Sauser)

It feels like my last race is so far away already, in my mind and in my body. Roc d'Azur in southern France was my last go. I enjoyed it, even though I sucked in Friday's marathon race. But for the big one on Sunday (the 55km cross country), I found the race mode switch. Unfortunately, that mode blew into nothing when I flatted just before the last level stretch. At that point I had a small lead and was so excited that I could win that big classic for the third time. Luck, however, was not on my side that day.

By the way, I did ride heavier tires, but as you can see, there is no recipe for not flatting at the very rocky Roc d'Azur.

Luckily the race starts early in the morning, so we riders can hang around the beach afterward, while the mechanics break down the booth. I mean we would love to help out, but riders can only work with the legs, plus we have no idea how to break down the tents and fold the banners nicely.

We all met on a complete team ride afterwards along the beach, which ended up in a fancy bar just next to it. It was a good start to a great night out.

I was really not in the mood for a two day photo shoot with Men's Health in Provence straight afterwards. I knew this was going to be so much work. Whoever knows me knows that I am not the type of guy who likes to walk up steep slopes and then ride down, while trying to make a race face for photos! However, it ended up being two nice days. It was the best organized shoot I have ever done, and the various locations were so pretty.

On the drive home, I was racing against the final destination time on my navigation system. Man, I was moving, and it looked like I was going to beat the 9:30 pm ETA by far. Unfortunately, I ran out of gas just before Geneva.

Was it truly an edition of bad luck or my fault? Probably my fault because it was not the first time. I ended up riding my bike with my left over water bottles in by backpack in search of a gas station somewhere in the dark of Frenchyland. That was definitely not fun, and suddenly I did not care about beating my navigation system time any more. I eventually got home at 11:30!

One of the the big highlights this year was riding the Cape Pioneer Trek in which I partnered with my friend Bobby Behan. South Africa hosts so many mountain bike stage races and the Cape Pioneer was such a relaxed event over six days in the Klein Karoo. The comradeship was awesome, and we had so much to laugh and joke about. Although, some of the stages were long, windy and rocky, that did make the rest of the time even better. The race was super organized by Dryland, who created a nice family atmosphere.

The week after the Cape Pioneer, I made use of my time in South Africa by promoting our charity Songo.info in Johannesburg, plus I attended the Cape Epic route launch. Unfortunately, I started to feel sick in Johannesburg and for the rest of my days in the Cape region. I thought it was just a cold and that as soon as I was back home in Switzerland, I would get rid of it.

That cold bored the hell out of me and stayed with me. I was not sick enough to stay in bed and but also had no energy to do anything. From all the tele watching, my eyes started to deform into squares. I was ready to buy a round flat screen, instead, but I could not find any!