In recent years the traffic density on many of our roads in South Africa has made riding mountain bikes increasingly popular because it is safer – but is this really a sport for women?
We might not expect to hear “yes” if we ask someone like Anriëtte Schoeman, but we will. Despite the fact that this lady has won numerous road races and represented South Africa in the UCI Road World Championships more than once, she came back last year to successfully defend her title as the winner of the Telkom 947 Mountain Bike Challenge women’s race one more time.
If you now wonder whether anything that appeals to a super racer applies to you, it is worth mentioning that she is already 40 years old so she was not particularly young when she decided to add mountain biking to her skills.
Whilst males are more likely to take risks, challenge each other and battle for hierarchy on a track that is a bit tough; females of all ages and skills levels do it quite differently. Unless they are officially racing, they will nearly always try to involve everybody and offer plenty of advice, and good conversations Science has actually proven that these differences are not just sociological, but also physiological.
To meet other women who share your passion and to possibly ride with, we suggest entering events, going to your bike shop and asking them to introduce you to some of their lady customers, or joining a mountain biking club. Sadly, many women are too nervous to enter races, but this is really worth trying. Even if you are not a chaser it offers the adventure of riding tracks you won’t usually be able to experience, and some riders get surprising pleasure from the adrenaline pressure of racing with other women. You really don’t know until you try!
Three ladies-only hints:
Light up your tubelessIf you have only really done road cycling, you’ll think tyres only like smooth surfaces, but mountain biking tyres are very different, and going tubeless is a good option. With sealant in your tyre you risk far fewer punctures, and you can safely run low enough pressure to have good grip even if the track is full of rocks and roots. Lighter riders produce less pressure though, so you probably want to fiddle a bit with the pressure your bike shop and heavier family members recommend. Better traction is derived from the increased surface area of a softer tyre and this also offers a more comfortable ride on uneven and loose rocky surfaces. Watch here to find out how to change a tubeless tyre.
Helmet helpIf you have long hair,your helmet can slide around on your head. Because it won’t sit level just above your eyebrows where it’s meant to be, it might then not do the job at all if you fall. We definitely don’t want that! The best way to solve this problem is to make a ponytail that’s not too low down, and thread it between the bottom of the helmet and that dial that adjusts the strap around your head. Once you have tightened the dial and done up the chin strap, it’s wise to shake your head to make sure the helmet fits snug and does not slide around.
Saddle pain fix Most brands offer women-specific saddles, but it sometimes feels as if they are just wider and have more padding. If this does not fit comfortably around your sit bones it can cause agony. If you’re a little embarrassed to discuss the fact that your bottom is not happy with someone at a bike shop, or even your friends, here’s an article to help you figure out what might be causing the problem and how to fix it.
With over 26% of the field being women who participated in the 2016 edition of the Telkom 947 Mountain Bike Challenge, you’ve got no excuse but to join in on the fun this year!Entries close 30 September.