“The obstacles were unknown to me as I started out on a route that I was completely unfamiliar with,” said Day, who finished second in the 373km mountain bike challenge.
“Apart from the body aching afterwards, it feels really good. I feel grateful to have been able to race without any technical difficulties and that my body could keep up with the long hours.”
Day said the Desert Dash was a “great new challenge” for him after all his years of road racing.
“The reward to just be able to experience a race like this definitely drew me to it.
Day said the race started with quite a lot of climbing and after 30km there were four riders up front, each of them pulling their weight and rolling through.
“We dropped a European rider, leaving three of us 50km into the race. After checkpoint two, about 100km in, going up another long climb, Konny put in quite a hard pace since he is very light and thus has more control when it comes to the climbs.
“That was when we dropped the third rider, leaving Konny and myself.”
He said he and Looser kept rolling until 150km in when the first relay team rider caught up with them.
They hooked onto his wheel and rode a hard pace until the half-way mark at checkpoint three, which was the first time Day could meet up with his support team.
“At that stage I didn’t know how on earth I’d be able to finish the race. The climbing was quite tough on my body but I hoped for a bit of an easier ride from there.
“Konny and I left checkpoint three and rode together to the next point with a much flatter surface, but with a lot of corrugation. This suited my strengths a bit better, but by this stage we had been sitting for about seven or eight hours already and I was suffering from all kinds of aches and pains.”
From checkpoint four the second relay rider caught up with them and dragged them along to checkpoint five.
“There was no opportunity to really drop Konny. I would have put in effort just for him to sit on the relay team rider’s wheel and catch up with me again since I would be riding alone.
“It wouldn’t have been energy efficient if he would just sit with a rider and catch up to me even though at that stage I felt strong enough to break away since that terrain suited my strengths well.”
Day said they arrived at checkpoint five – the last stop with only 50km to go – and it ended up being a very quick one.
“We left the checkpoint with a four-man team and it mounted to whoever could stick to the team the longest.
“It was quite hilly and sandy and I was unfamiliar with the terrain and was caught by surprise.
“With 30km to go I dropped from the team and Konny was able to sit with them and kept the pace till the finish.
“When arriving in Swakopmund I was content with coming in second to Konny. Riding with him for about 340km was an amazing experience and we had some good chats. He seems like a very humble person and a very good rider.”
With regards to the route, Day said the first 180km hurt him “quite a lot”, especially between 100km and 180km as there were a lot of steep hills.
“With me being a bit of a heavier rider, terrain like that is where I struggle most. After the halfway mark the terrain became flatter and suited my strengths and riding style much better.
“After working through some bad cramping and pain I started enjoying the race and terrain a bit more and I could feel that I was able to ride stronger and easier.
“The last 50km was a lot hillier than I thought it would be. I was expecting the sandy terrain but being sandy and hilly was quite an unexpected challenge for me, but also a massive learning curve.”
He added that mentally knowing he still had a long way to go was a challenge for him.
“You have to keep your focus and not give in to what your body is saying at that stage. I think the fact that we were not just riding 375km but actually racing was a big challenge both mentally and physically.
“Pushing yourself 15 hours non-stop, you don’t train these distances, so it is somewhat of a shock to your body.
“I prayed a lot, and I have to give God all the glory for helping me throughout the race to overcome the parts where I felt like I couldn’t anymore.”
Day said personally this result really motivated him to put in the work during 2020.
“I would like to go back and race for the win. It was such a good experience and I really feel like I learnt a lot. Now it’s back to the drawing board.
“I have quite a full year ahead if all goes according to plan. Some gravel bike races are also in the mix – 2020 is going to be a big year.”