As with many riders around the world, the 43-year-old was forced to change her approach to this season after the pandemic put a spoke in her wheels.
“After last year’s victory, I thought I definitely want to do this one again,” Barnard told In the Bunch this week. “But then the lockdown happened and everything turned out differently.
“It was very strange to do the 36ONE at this time of year and I didn’t really have my heart in it to try to win again. I thought I would just enter, play it safe and make sure I finish it.”
Looking back on the race, Barnard (Liv Bicycles) felt that was the best approach she could have taken.
“I think that was the right attitude because sometimes when you set yourself the goal of winning, that’s when things don’t work out the way you want them to.
“I didn’t really know the other riders but I could see there were a few girls on a mission and you are always checking each other out.
“As it turned out, Jenny Close, who came second, and I got away in the first 15km and we were on our own.
“Then, around the 20km mark, there was a sandy section and it was very windy – I managed to drop Jenny and I never saw her again.
“It was difficult in terms of tactics because I had no idea how far behind me she was and nobody was ever able to tell me.”
Barnard said she then just focused on her own race, trying to keep herself mentally positive in the wind and excessive heat.
“It was something like 41 degrees and the wind was into us, so [it was] a really tough challenge.
“We don’t normally get that sort of wind in Oudtshoorn and it seemed like we had hardly left the neutral zone and I was already sipping water.
“That wind continued until the first checkpoint at 40km and I actually ran out of water and had to stop a bakkie to ask if they had some for me.”
The eventual winner said she knew it was time to “play it safe and smart”.
“The moment I was in a [men’s] group which I felt was too fast, I backed off, because I knew someone else would come along.
“Eventually I joined a group which suited me and we rode steadily – that was the secret, just to ride steadily and to mentally tick off checkpoints along the way.
“Every time there was a stop I ate and drank something, regrouped and then resumed the challenge.”
Even though her original intention was just to complete the race, Barnard’s natural instincts took over.
“I am really very happy with the win. I knew that when I was in the lead I was not going to let it go easily – I’m not that kind of person.
“So I’m very chuffed to win it twice in a row in my hometown.”