A weekend away with the girls is always a well-deserved treat. But there is nothing like adding a bit of excitement into the equation; such as a little mountain biking… Evox Tour De Femme has managed to create three days of wild abandon combined with indulgent delights. Women got to cycle amongst the big five with their besties, while enjoying fine dining in the hub of Gondwana Nature Reserve.
Why Tour De Femme?
The visionaries behind the Evox Tour De Femme know exactly what women want because they are women. Jenni Green and Jackie Lange spent the last two years dreaming up the perfect adventure weekend for girls and they certainly attained it. Jackie and Jenni explain, “The riding is not overly technical, nor have we designed routes that are unbelievably difficult. The routes have been designed to provide enough of a challenge to chat about over the bonfire at the boma.” Personally I had never trained off road and had hardly ridden in the last while, but I enjoyed 30km a day of exquisite scenery and some great laughs as we negotiated the challenging sections.
We were fortunate to spend the weekend with one of South Africa’s own Olympian cyclists, Robyn De Groot. Free from a competitive environment, Robyn had the rare opportunity to simply relax and have a good time with the girls. After hitting the height of her carrier as a road cyclist at the 2012 Olympics, she decided it was time for a change. 2013 brought big changes for Robyn, she decided to build her carrier as a Biokineticist and switch to mountain biking. Robyn joined Team Ascendis Health and soon becoming a three times national XCM champion.
Why A Women’s Mountain Biking Weekend?
Robyn shared her insights into the Evox Tour De Femme and her experience of cycling, “Mountain biking is about being outdoors, breathing fresh air and enjoying the privilege that it is to see the places that it takes you. You can’t imagine what lies beyond your usual routine in life. I think a lot of women’s eyes were opened this weekend, to the beauty in our own country.” Every evening we had a chance to take an intimate drive with the animals we passed during the day: elephants, rhino, lions, giraffe, buffalo and buck.
The weekend isn’t a race, “It’s about the riding, it’s about the company, it’s about wildlife, it’s about really enjoying and sharing with like minded people. It’s a great way to get more women on bikes. I saw a lot of women walking away from here different people after just 3 days. If you compare them from day 1 to day 3 there has been huge growth and I think that’s what life is about, challenging yourself, growing and leaving changed for the better. If we share challenges together we are brought closer together and it forms bonds between people that didn’t exist on day 1. I think there are a lot of friendships that have been formed here that will probably last.”
After all her years of cycling the weekend was really a first for Robyn. “It’s been a holiday for me, it’s been awesome. As an athlete you do tend to get pretty focused and not get side tracked, but you can get stuck in a routine. This was great in terms of just letting go. I have never done anything like this; where you kind of step back. It’s not about me, it’s not about my competition, it’s about the people that I am sharing this weekend with and it’s been a privilege to meet each person and see where they have all come from. They are all on different levels and I am inspired by how each woman conquered her own challenges and how everybody supported one another. It would be great to have more women on bikes riding at other events around the country.”
What Is It About Mountain Biking?
Robyn decided to switch to mountain biking to get outdoors, to enjoy the ride and to take on new challenges. “I wanted something with no pressure, where I could just get out and have fun. What I like about mountain biking is the challenges that it throws at you. There are times when you question you own ability, then you find yourself conquering things that suddenly jump out at you. You look back and think ‘well that wasn’t that bad’. It just gives you so much more confidence. It’s like a different family (to road biking), it’s probably been the best four years of my life.”
When it comes to training and keeping a healthy lifestyle Robyn’s focus is on having a balanced life. “I eat what makes me feel good. It’s quite easy for me.” She will never say no to a superfood smoothie and a delicious organic salad. “People may look and think I’m rigid and disciplined but it’s enjoyment for me and I think that’s the most important thing is just to do what you love.”
Robyn has been a big fan of Evox sports nutrition for many years. “I really like the Evox proteins, I was already using them before we were sponsored. I only use products that I believe in. I think it’s important to use brands because they work for you.”
First Time Cyclist
Here are a few tips for first time riders. “Looking at mountain biking for the first time can be quite daunting but the obstacles are a lot smaller that they seem. Safety is a huge factor, make sure your cycle is safe. Cycling doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable sport. I think it’s worth investing in a really good bike setup; you will be so much more comfortable. I would do it a few times during the year, as flexibility and other factors are always changing. And make sure you have planned your route correctly.”
Age Doesn’t Matter
“There isn’t an age limit to cycling, a bike doesn’t know your age. This event has attracted such a variety of ages. It wasn’t girls on bicycles, it was ladies, women with a career, women with children and some without. I saw that women from all walks of life are attracted to the sport.”
The whole weekend was exquisitely executed, every detail accounted for, right down to specially designed cycle bags. “I would love to come back next year, it’s been an eye opener and it’s something I would love to be a part of for as long as I can.”
Author: Kheyrne Danu
Read the full article on Longevity’s website here: