Clean sweep for Jodi in Oudtshoorn
For the first time, she opted to ride in the road race as well as the time trial – and ended up winning that event too. She competes in the 45 to 49 age group.
“We raced the time trial on February 7 and I won it easily,” said Zulberg. “The second-placed cyclist was almost 12-and-a-half minutes behind me. What really pleased me is that, if I had raced with the professionals, my time would have been good enough to claim third place.
“The time trial is my speciality. I’ve won it three years in a row.”
This race covered 30km and Zulberg completed it in a time of 46 minutes, 51.675 seconds. “The 30km trial suited me. I can stay focused and stay in the pain threshold,” she said.
Then, on February 11, Zulberg tackled the road race for the first time, cycling around the hills of Oudtshoorn in scorching temperatures. “The road race was hectic because it was quite a big field of women,” she said. “We raced at noon and the temperature was about 45 degrees Celsius.”
The race covered 100km and comprised two laps of 50km each. After the first lap, the breakaway began, and after a while, it came down to just two cyclists – Zulberg and defending champion Desiree Strydom from Cape Town.
The two went head-to-head over the final 2km and they crossed the line as one. It took a photo finish to separate them – and victory went to Zulberg by the tiniest margin.
“It was unbelievable. After 100km on the road, it came down to a hair’s breadth at the finish,” she said.
“Coming into the final 2km, there was a stretch and then a corner, and it was downhill to the finish for the last 200m. I knew I had to be in front coming around that bend because it would be almost impossible to catch someone if they built up a lead.
“What I didn’t see was that she was right next to me all the time. There she was, launching herself at the finish and I nearly gave the gold medal to her.”
The final times tell the story. Zulberg crossed the line in two hours, 58 minutes and 22.293 seconds. Strydom completed the course in two hours, 58 minutes and 22.330 seconds, just 0.37 seconds behind. Third place went to Yasmina Nagdee, who was another two minutes and 11 seconds behind them.
“It is very competitive between us,” explained Zulberg. “I race against the same women all the time and there is no love lost between us.”
Zulberg is also the current Maccabiah road race champion and was runner-up in the time trial in her age group. “The Maccabiah covers 20km [for the individual time trials] and the road race, 67km. I was actually planning to go to the Maccabi Games four years earlier, but I qualified for the World Championship and decided to go there instead.”
Prior to last year’s Maccabiah, Zulberg also competed in what is called the Israman (Israel’s Ironman triathlon championship), staged in Eilat last January. “The Israman is the best race in the whole world. I told my husband that if I never race again, I will be happy after that race. When I finished, I felt like 10 000 members of my family were cheering for me.”
Her next mission is the Ironman at Lake Placid in the US. “I need to change my training regimen. I’ve been focusing on cycling since Maccabi. Now I need to concentrate on triathlon training. I believe Mount Placid has a nice, hilly course.”
Her other goal for the year is to ride in the Munga, a 1 000km mountain race from Bloemfontein to Cape Town. “It’s one of the races where you’re on your own for five days. You ride on your own, sleep on your own, eat on your own. First I’ll need my husband Clive’s permission.”
Why does Zulberg put herself through all this? “It’s part of who I am. It makes me happy. I get to travel and have fun. Right now I enjoy every moment on the bike. When I wake up one morning and I’m no longer enjoying myself, I’ll know it’s time to quit.”