“From Asphalt to Adventure: A Road Cyclist’s Triumph at Tankwa Trek – Conquering Mountains, Shattering Limits, and the Journey of a Lifetime.”

Mamello Letsie

In the heart of the untamed wilderness, where the dust of the trail mingles with the spirit of competition, a seasoned road cyclist embarks on a thrilling new adventure – The Tankwa Trek. As part of the #sheuntamed initiative by ABSA, Mamello Letsie a gritty entrepreneur and seasoned road cyclists, takes on her first mountain bike race – a challenging 4-day stage race. We asked Mamello to shares some of her thoughts and emotions leading up to the race, during the race and reflections after the race. In our chat she shed light on the unique challenges that come with transitioning from the smooth roads of road racing to rugged terrains of mountain biking.

Pre Race Reflections

Q: Learning new skills can be both exhilarating and frustrating. What specific mountain biking skills did you find most challenging to master, and how did you overcome those hurdles? Can you share any breakthrough moments?

I haven’t mastered them yet – steep switchbacks, both climbing and descending. I’ve learned to look into the switchback and flow with my head and shoulders into it. When descending, it’s about entering with momentum and releasing the brakes.

Q: How are you feeling emotionally with a day till your first stage race, and what are some of the thoughts and emotions that you are experiencing?

I’m very nervous. It’s not just my first stage race but my first mountain bike race. I’ve never been in a setting where there are other teams in the mix, so what I’m trying to think about most is how I’ll handle being in a single track and someone is behind me wanting to pass. I’m hoping I don’t panic and keep my composure by racing within my own skill level.

As Mamello prepares for her first mountain bike race, her openness to discussing her vulnerability in this new adventure is refreshing and a lesson for new comers to the sport. The mix of nerves, anticipation, and fear weaves a complex emotional tapestry. Her commitment to maintaining composure and racing within her skill level demonstrates a resilient spirit ready to tackle the unknown terrain of her inaugural race. The journey is a testament to the blend of vulnerability and determination that characterizes the process of mastering new skills and stepping into uncharted territories. The single track, with its twists and turns, becomes a metaphor for the uncharted territories of her mountain biking journey.

DURING THE RACE

Q. Stage races often foster a sense of community amongst participants. How has connecting with other racers influenced your experience?

It’s really been such an enriching experience. I struggled a bit with cramps today but the ladies I was with kept offering me tips on how to best get rid of them. It’s also just been amazing to see how well other teams work together and support one another. There’s a father and son duo that really warmed my heart today because the son was constantly checking on his dad to make sure he was okay. He even went down the hill to fetch his dad. 🥹

Q What has been your experience of the first 2 days, highs, lows, general take aways.

I’m having a blast! It’s painful at times but I’m enjoying the whole experience. My technical skills are getting better and I’m feeling more comfortable and confident with my bike. High is definitely manoeuvring down the technical rocky sections and not breaking my neck lol.Low was not feeling my best today because I have period pains, but the worst has past so tomorrow’l will be a better day.

The first two days have been a mix of highs and lows, with Mamello relishing the exhilarating moments of navigating technical rocky sections successfully. Despite experiencing discomfort from cramps, she maintains a positive outlook, emphasizing the joy derived from the overall experience and the notable improvement in her technical skills. She eagerly anticipates a better day ahead, embracing both the challenges and the enriching connections fostered during the race.

Post Race

Q. How has completing the Tankwa Trek impacted your perception of your abilities as a mountain biker, and what aspect of the journey do you find most memorable?

It was a hard race! Super challenging manually and physically. It definitely showed me that my technical skills are definitely better than they were a month ago. My descending and climbing on rocky sections has improved tremendously. Most memorable part of the journey was descending the Marino monster without getting off the bike once.

Q. Can you share a specific moment during the Tankwa Trek where you faces a significant challenge, and how did you overcome it? On the flip side, what was the most rewarding aspect or accomplishment during the event for you?

Climbing the Marino monster. I’m generally a good climber but struggled so much with fatigue, pain and nausea during the race. So having to do something so physically demanding really took everything I had in me to conquer. So I’d say the most rewarding aspect simply was finishing each day.

Q. What valuable lessons or insights have you gained from your experience that you plan to carry forward into the Cape Epic?

Pacing myself definitely! I think I went a bit too hard on day one. So in order for me to be able to have energy for the 8 days I need to be mindful each day of how I expand energy.

Mamello’s journey epitomizes the essence of #sheuntamed, an initiative not just promoting women in mountain biking but celebrating the resilience, courage, and adaptability needed to conquer the untamed trails. As Mamello faces the her next BIG mountain bike Race – The ABSA Cape Epic, her can do spirit and gritty determination will be valuable tools as she enters the uncharted terrain of an 8 day stage race. Mamello and the ABSA #Sheuntamed Team are pioneers in this thrilling adventure. #sheuntamed – where the trails are as fierce as the women riding them.

#sheuntamed