With the inaugural Bezhoek Extreme MTB Festival just outside Middelburg all set for this coming weekend, Team dormakaba cyclists Amy McDougall and Samantha Sanders are looking forward to what promises to be an exciting event.
“The format of the Bezhoek Extreme is something different to what we are used to, and I think it will be refreshing to try. I have not ridden any of the trails out there, but I always enjoy experiencing new ones and areas, so I am eager to get out there. The organisers really went to a lot of effort and I am keen on supporting them,” says Samantha.
“I am expecting a fun weekend. There will be live bands, really interesting tracks, and the evening prologue on Friday. Even though we are in a lull before the SA Championships later this year, I want to do well and use this as a challenging training ride.”
In addition to the 25km prologue on Friday evening, the event sees an 89km ultra marathon on Saturday and a 45km half marathon on Sunday to test the riders’ abilities in different ways.
And with many of the top female cyclists in the country attending the event, Samantha and Amy are set for some tough competition.
“It is fantastic to see so many of the top ladies attending the event with the organisers making a great effort to approach us and draw in the female cyclists. My approach to competition has always been to not overthink the situation. All you can do is stick to your own formula and physically prepare as best you can,” says Samantha.
Amy also feels that overthinking a race does more harm than good.
“If you come prepared, 90 percent of the work is done. The rest is riding and doing the best you can in very moment of the race. Even though the pressure is not the same as a national event, I will still be giving it my all,” she says.
Both Samantha and Amy are nervously excited for the evening prologue.
“I have done some night time racing before so I know the two biggest factors are making sure you are warm enough and that you have proper lighting,” says Samantha.
Although for Amy, riding in the dark also means that cyclists inevitably do more things they would not ordinarily do as they cannot see too far ahead and end up not overthinking things.
“There is always something magical about night time riding that excites me. It has its own unique challenges and provides quite a special atmosphere,” adds Amy.