We had the privilege of joining the Wines2Whales and Joanna Dobinson from Biking in the Bosch on the first of 3 Women's Group Ride Classes they are hosting prior to the 3 day stage race which kicks off in October. Wines2Whales have revolutionised the stage race scene by creating a female centered race for the first of their 3 events, the Chardonnay race which takes place from 25-27 October 2019. The event features an exclusive women's elite ladies start batch and has given the women their own race. The women can enjoy fair and competitive racing from their start batch without interference from or interfering in other batches. The ladies will race for top honours in the Chardonnay race while the elite men will race in the Shiraz event the following weekend.
Adding to this already amazing format, Grandstand Management have fully embraced the female mountain biker and are dedicated to getting more women on bikes. Not only are the elite racing snakes catered for, but the Chardonnay has become the event where women are the central focus through out the weekend.
They are using the Chardonnay to promote women in the sport of mountain biking and are passionate about getting women involved whilst enjoying the fine trails that the Wines2Whales offers. A great addition to this initiative is the introduction of group riding classes for women prior to the 2019 event.
These group sessions are held around the Western Cape on the best bike trails and are the perfect opportunity for women to experience some of the Wines2Whales hospitality. Teaming up with one of South Africa's best skills coaches Joanna Dobinson, is the cherry on the cake and riders have a chance to get some incredible advice from the best in a relaxed setting. Joanna has coached beginners and World Champions and everyone in-between and her years of experience have fine-tuned her expertise. The rides are open to all women regardless of whether you have entered the Wines2Whales or not, but trust us, you will be itching to get your hands on an entry after attending one of the group sessions.
We attended the 1st of the three group classes at Jonkershoek trails on Saturday 13 July. A chilly morning greeted over 50 ladies, all rearing to get out on the trails. After a quick introduction to the team, Joanna got right to the nitty gritty allowing us to practice a few basic skills to make sure we all had the best experience once out on the trails. Joanna's enthusiasm and obvious knowledgeable passion for mountain biking ensured everyone was ready to hit the trails with the correct skills for a safe and pleasant ride.
We split into 3 groups of various levels and set off into the reserve for an epic morning of riding lead by very efficient team leaders and coaches. The banter was light and each section of trail highlighted elements which we may encounter during the Wines2Whales, so it was a perfect opportunity to hone our skills before the event.
The morning flew by and soon we were back at the start where a glass of bubbly awaited us and an informal chat with the group lead to new friendships and riding partnerships being made.
It was truly amazing to see so many women coming out and sharing the joy of mountain biking with each other. We think these events are the perfect way to get more women on bikes and riding premium stage races like the Wines2Whales. You cannot help but walk (ride) away feeling more confident and able to tackle the race come October. We suggest you get to one of these group rides if you need that final nudge to enter the Wines2Whales or if you want some guidance around the type of riding you are likely to encounter. You will come away knowing you are in for a life changing experience in October when you cross the line at the 2019 Wines2Whales.
If you have not yet entered for one of the three Wines2Whales events enter now as entries are limited. www.wines2whales.co.za
Make sure to get down to the next women's group ride on 20 July at Hoogekraal or the final event on 10 August at Tokai. Booking is essential so check out Wines2Whales Facebook page for more details. Experience the #serousgees of the Wines2Whales hospitality.
*Images by Kim Voller & Luke Lockhart-Ross