At the outer edges, we all love to suffer

Wines2Whales Day 1 of the historic first ever stage race for Elite Women Mountain Bikers – a riders reflections.

Stage races are always a journey, and we always seem to return home a slightly different person; that is the treasure of mountain biking, your body changes, you gain grit, ready to take on anything and you see the profound beauty in the landscape and the vistas, leaving you feeling connected and refreshed. A well designed stage race allows you to explore the gamut of ecstasy and suffering, Day 1 of the Wines2Whales #Chardonnay does exactly that.

This year the Wines2Whales stage race changed history and opened up the trails for many more races to follow, they introduced the first ever stage race for Elite Women Mountain Bikers and it was an amazing success, with racing of the highest standards, close, competitive, gutsy and a bitter fight to the final stage. Our team was invited to be part of this historic moment, an event which was sold out and which produced sublime riding and a fantastic celebration of women in mountain biking both on the trails and in the race village. Enjoy reading my rider report of Day 1.

As I already mentioned a well designed stage race is an intimate play between ecstasy and suffering, Day 1 of the Wines2Whales offered exactly that, Vergelegen Climb (that unintended portage which peaked at 25%) and the ever famous Gantouws Pass provided the dose of “suffering”. Remember if you do not suffer it is not worth doing, you want to feel you achieved something, you want war stories back at the Race Village! The ecstasy was the delicately woven single trails, both the new sections Old Pine and JK’s Contour and then the A2Z trails which popped us out at Oak Valley ready for a crisp bottle of Chardonnay.

Often riding places you in a state of zen, when you are purely in the moment, no past no future – just flow and it is ecstasy!

Then there is the suffering… (which I personally also love)

At the outer edges of our capacities, that’s the space mountain bikers love to go to, whether it’s risking on the the technical sections or pushing up extreme climbs, we love the feeling of going to that place which makes you feel intimately alive, intimately connected with every breath. All endurance is the balance between how hard it feels and how hard you’re willing to make it feel.



Life is about continuously being hungry to push to the limits.



Vergelegen Climb

The meaning of life is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move, to breathe, to hurt, to go up, to stop and then start again, to feel you can go no more and then to take the next step, to suffer and then to conquer and feel alive.



Gantows Pass vistas below of Somerset & Strand

Modern life is so focused on making things physically easy and comfortable that we forget that the only reason we make change is because of discomfort. Don’t be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone. The epic Gantouws Pass climbs out of the the wine lands and places riders firmly on the A to Z single trails which burst out into the Elgin Valley.



Bike carry up Gantouws Pass

Whether you are fastest over the top or last over the top, everyone suffers.



Top of Vergelegen Climb

The magic is not that you finished, the magic is that you had the courage to start.


The tuff stuff done, now just play time all the way home, enjoying the single trails and technical sections.

Wines2Whales offers a unique opportunity for women to ride in a stage race which features the top elite women as the “main feature”. For the non elite riders if you are competitive you can test your time against the best or like us, do your best (don’t be fooled, pre race instructions were “we not there on a photo shoot, we racing!” lets just say I like to take a photo or two) but take time to laugh, take a photo or two (quickly) and just enjoy the amazing race which celebrates women.  Hope to be seeing more ladies join us next year, either in a ladies team or in a mixed team, I promise you will love it!

All results

DAY 1 Chardonnay Wines2Whales stage race.