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What started out as a dream for Jenni Green & Jackie Lange just under two years ago, a MTB event just for women…. became a reality in early August 2016, and exceeded the expectations way beyond measure for all fortunate enough to have been a part of the inaugural event.

The “Stage”: EVOX TOUR DE FEMME
Where: Gondwana Game Reserve, Western Cape – South Africa

Day 1
“Great day out exploring the Gondwana Game Reserve by bicycle in-amongst wild animals, majestic valleys…and best of all – good times with women who love or will soon fall in love with this beautiful sport.”

Upon arrival we were welcomed by Elephants in the camp, hearing these animals move through the foliage, smelling them…what a way to start this unique weekend…

 

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Our introduction to one another, the game reserve, and for some… the first time to be riding a mountain bike. I still remember thinking to myself… “Well this could be interesting” …. and it was, in such a good way. To see women of all ages, from all walks of life, different riding/skill levels, moms who had left their families behind to come and spend the weekend with a group of women who had all signed up to this adventurous weekend of riding, pampers, and socialising. I sat back and thought to myself what courage each lady came to this event with…. and how special this was. By the time we all arrived back at the “main camp” after 50km of MTB’ing everyone was in good spirits, feeling connected to one another in some way after the experiences shared out in the game reserve on a bicycle.

The evening meal was prepared by the staff in a “BOMA” (Enclosure, blockade/small fort made of sticks and branches) around a typical Camp fire in true South African style. The bonding that took place that evening, the sharing of the days stories, leaving most laughing and smiling at the memorable moments.

Day 2 
“A ride taking us through the most beautiful yellow Canola fields, climbing, coffee stops, good laughs and loads of memory collecting”

Everyone feeling a little more comfortable knowing one another now, after a great night’s sleep in these little grass roofed huts with skylights which make you feel as if you are sleeping underneath the stars. For some the first time on the bike 2 days in a row…. everyone eager to conquer this challenge they had committed themselves to. Splitting into our 2 groups based on level, we all set off into the misty cloudy morning. The familiarity of the ride and protocol running smoothly and women sharing tips of “how to” climb better, “how to” ride through water, “how to” ride rocks. It was fantastic to see the interaction and way that the ladies were helping one another improve, and at times asking me for advice or information on mountain biking which I was more than happy to share. We were fortunate to see Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo while out riding on this particular day.

 

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An evening game drive on our way to our dinner venue that evening added much excitement, as we came across two Lionesses having a stand-off with a pair of hippo’s. Eventually having to be summonsed to dinner we left the animals in peace to let be what was going to be. It seemed the Hippo’s were winning the battle 😉 Only to reverse within 5 metres of the Male lion who had been sneaking quietly through the grass behind us. To have such close encounters with these big 5 animals was incredible, even for us South Africans.

Day 3 
Our final day started a little earlier in the morning than the others, everyone knowing the ropes and going through the motions…Dressing, breakfast, faff, bike and off we went. Many of our rides having to be controlled by the whereabouts of the animals and at times having to re-route and re-plan the days proceedings. At this stage seeing the confidence and comfort each lady was now riding with was just one of the incredible things to see for me. The way they handled their bikes, their setups now somewhat corrected to provide comfort and ensure no injuries had been taken care of in the past 2 days. I still respect and take my hat off to all of the women who took on this challenge. The descents and climbs this day were rough and really rugged… and I was taken aback to see how these women coped. I didn’t see one woman arrive back without a smile on her face. Each of us left there feeling uplifted & united by the one thing in common – a BIKE RIDE…or 3 :)

 

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Thank you’s:
Hugest of thank you’s to Jackie & Jenni for putting on the Evox Tour de Femme. It has been a privilege to be a part of the first of what I would like to believe will be many more of this exclusive ladies MTB pampering & riding weekends. Thanks to Gondwana game reserve for the luxurious accommodation, amazing staff, fine dining, game drives, and for giving us this truly African experience in the bush in amongst the Big 5.

Mission accomplished … creating the stage to connect women who ride, irrespective of level or age…women, leaving feeling more confident than the day they started… STRONGHER.

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