A year later and fully recovered from severe blood-flow problems in her left leg, Robyn de Groot is in just the right frame of mind to defend her 947 Ride Joburg MTB race title in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Around this time last year De Groot, 36, decided to go ahead with plans to have complicated vascular surgery, a process which also entailed overcoming numerous administrative hurdles.
“I was under a lot of stress but also ‘looked forward’ to doing one last race with that problem.
“I’ll never forget the feeling. It was the last time I had to endure the burning in my leg.
“This year I haven’t felt that since the surgery, so I’m super grateful for that.”
The dormakaba rider, who recently won the Berg & Bush “Descent”, felt her current form was good. She was fortunate to have had a short but successful season.
“I’m not feeling too tired as I get to these races at the end of the year, which can sometimes happen.
“I haven’t raced a lot this year actually, so I’m looking forward to popping a number on my bike and giving it a good go.
“Last year I was fit but not in good shape from an injury perspective and this year I’m fit and luckily have no physical limitation.”
The Wines2Whales Chardonnay champion said her goal, as with any event, would be to do her best and race according to how things unfolded on the day.
“I’m always happy to get to the line and know I have given it my best shot. I’m obviously aiming for a top spot, and defending my title always adds a different dimension to the race.”
Regarding potential obstacles, De Groot said with mountain biking you always had to be ready to adapt to situations as they cropped up.
“There’s a high risk for mechanicals or crashes and the best way to ride is to avoid those.
“I don’t foresee any obstacles, but that’s not to say there won’t be any.”
De Groot, who placed third at this year’s UCI Marathon World Championships in Grachen, Switzerland, felt this had been her best season so far.
“It’s been compacted, but one to remember. I’m not really one of the people who thrive on confidence or lack thereof.
“I just ride my bike, race the race and do the best I can from a performance perspective.
“I try to mingle with youngsters, inspire others, represent sponsors well and be professional. If I put all those together and still enjoy riding my bike then it’s sure to be a good day.”