The Port Elizabeth resident showed good form at last year’s Crossways race to win by a convincing 16 and a half minutes, but goes into this weekend’s event uncertain of how she’ll perform.
“I’m not at full fitness yet,” she said this week. “I had three and a half months of winter hibernation and started cycling again only six weeks ago.
“After three weeks I was still feeling the effects of winter. It was really slow going. It took a while for my body to wake up,” said Shirley, who was second at the Steeltec MTB Classic early in November.
“Everything can happen on the day, though. I will try to enjoy it and push harder if I feel good. It would be great to win again.”
The race organisers had to rebuild and restructure the trails since the devastating fires in the area in June.
This, Shirley said, added to her uncertainty about her chances, but at the same time offered reason for optimism.
“There has also been a request for a route change to keep away from the lodging areas. I will head into the race expecting a surprise.
“I’m familiar with the Crossways trails, though. I saw the route plan and it looks incredible. I hope those trails will be included and there will be a lot of single-track.”
Shirley, 44, hinted that the technical single tracks may suit her riding.
“I’m a cross-country rider. I prefer the technical, steep downhills and uphills to the long, open and dragged roads.
Shirley added she would like to repeat her Longmore achievements of two years ago when she won alongside her husband, Steven.
“It’ll be great to bring the cup back home; even more so if Steven can win the men’s race.
“It’ll be difficult though, because there will be strong competition if everyone turns up.”