Cherise Williet and Mikayla Webb will be taking part in the 2017 Absa Cape Epic all in the name of raising money for CANSA through the I Love Boobies initiative.
You are riding as team CANSA Active I Love Boobies. Please explain a bit about the cause?
Cancer effects everyone, I have yet to meet someone who has not been touched by someone that is either suffering or passed away from cancer. It’s a disease that has no mercy. We partnered with CANSA Active, whose mission is to promote an active and balanced lifestyle, and in turn reduce your risk of cancer, and at the same time raise funds and awareness for CANSA.
While we called ourselves I Love Boobies (it sticks right), the funds raised don’t only go to the Breast Cancer suffers, but rather to whatever facility needs assistance. In December, Cherise and I visited the children’s oncology ward at Tygerberg Government Hospital. It was heart wrenching, witnessing moms trying to keep their babies positive, while they know it is only a matter of time before it is all over. We hope that the funds raised, awareness created and smiles gifted will make a difference to even one family of a cancer sufferer.
How can people donate?
You will be riding in custom painted shoes from Hasie and the Robots, were you involved in choosing the design and what was the idea behind it?
Everything we do is pink, blue, bright and so many hearts. Hasie just took inspiration from images of our kit. But the jaw-dropping design was all him.
Will you be riding with any other custom gear or equipment?
Yes, we have custom kit designed by Kate Whitehead, from Specialized Bicycles Africa.
What are you hoping to take away from the Cape Epic this year? Are you racing for position or for the overall experience?
Its all about smiles, laughs and happiness. Plus devouring all of the Woolworths treats. Cherise is a thoroughbred race horse so don’t get me wrong: if we're in 11th place and top 10 is in reach, she won't be able to hold back.
Looking at the Absa Cape Epic race register there are 26 women’s teams registered out of 670 teams in total. These are not huge numbers, although there are a larger number of women competing in the mixed category. Why do you think the participation is so low, and what can we do as an industry to improve this?
I think riding with a man is a lot easier. After riding with my mom last year, at the finish and for about two hours afterwards I said NEVER EVER AGAIN. Two hours passed and I said okay maybe with a man…
That didn’t happen, I got a woman as strong as a man, but about the same size as me.
Riding with a man usually means that there is a slip to sit in, there is a pocket to grab onto, there is someone to carry the spares and the extra bottles, someone to carry your bike over rocks, and I guess someone to look after you.
I don’t think that the cycling industry has much to do with the lack of participation of women at the Epic. If you were asking for lack of participation at a race like Wines2Whales a different story. Epic is incredibly tough, and even tougher on a women, our upper body strength is just nowhere near the same and we are lacking on major game changer: Testosterone. Eight of the hardest days of you life: ask any of the girls in the 26 teams how many tears are shed. The lack of participation is one thing, the next is the extremely high dropout rate of women in the race. Having a look at the start list the women on the list are the top endurance athletes in the mountain biking world, the calibre is so high and the body fat is so low.
You come from a family full of cyclists, you rode the 2016 Epic with your mother. Who started cycling first, and how did you all get into it?
As a kid, I was obsessed with the Tour de France and started to ride bikes, but as a girl it wasn’t cool, so moved onto other sports.
My mom at the age of 40 decided to quit smoking and start riding, so it was her. She did her first Epic in 2011 and I was in such awe. I never thought I would be able to do it. But I decided to try this bike riding thing, with 25kg to lose I realized this bike riding thing is a lot easier when you are lighter. After lots and lots of falls and many trips to the hospital, I guess we can now say that I can ride a bike. Kim (my sister) the junior, realized that if she wanted to spend any time with mom and I, she better start riding too. Now she is such a shredder. Maybe next years Epic partner.
You and your mother rode for CANSA Active last year - do your family have a long history with the charity?
No, not at all. My mom and I decided to ride Epic in 2016, we were riding at Meerendal and I said okay- but it needs to mean more than that. We are going to take so much away from the rest of our lives, work suffers, relationships suffer. So lets do it for something more, after thinking about a few different charities CANSA hit home. My moms Dad passed away from Cancer and this left us without a very amazing man in our lives. We partnered with the CANSA charity, realized what an impact we were making, and so decided to keep going with it.
You are a new mother. How do you balance this with your training and racing?
I have a nanny that comes in the morning from 6:30-9:00 so this gives me some time to ride. I try to run twice a week with Thomas in the afternoons. It is definitely more challenging than I originally thought especially as my husband travels quite a bit but I try and fit it in where I can. I have also learned that quality training can be a lot more effective than quantity.
You have had a successful career as a pro. Will you be picking this up again in the future?
When I found out I was pregnant, I thought it was the end of my racing career but I do find myself missing the racing aspect every now and then. I think that the Epic will give me a really good base and if I wanted to, it would be the ideal foundation to race again. I would just have to work a lot on my speed and intensity afterwards. So the short answer… I’m thinking about it 😀
Hasie and the Robots
How did you get into creating custom kicks?
It’s a very simple story really, my friend Iwan contacted me and asked whether I would be interested in doing a pair of cycling shoes. My designs and love for painting carries my design across any medium, so I picked up the shoes and we both started going back and forth with concepts and ideas for more shoes and designs. Both of us realized the potential of this bespoke angle and so Hasie Custom Kicks were born.
Where did you draw your inspiration for the I Love Boobies design?
I had a conversation with Mikayla and we looked at their newly designed kit and colour scheme. The kit had angular chards and I immediately thought of a geometric feel with pink highlighted segments. I then decided to sneak an extra feature in with the two shoes coming together and forming a heart.
What is the process for taking a standard shoe and applying a custom artwork?
The shoes need to be cleaned of all dirt and grease, the design work needs to be worked out beforehand to avoid running into dead ends. Once you have the concept and the right paint that adheres to the leather, you can start with the basic block work and follow the stages of colour and detail from there. The design style and workflow also creates a certain organic design that allows you to find more aspects and highlights as you progress with the shoes. The result is art in motion, it’s something so cool you can hang it up in your house as an art piece.
Besides custom shoes, what other art and design work do you do?
I have been an illustrator designer and mural artist for a good couple of years, I love working on anything that’s a challenge. My works range from doing steampunk designs for Truth Coffee to doing MTB frames and Textile design. I have a passion for art and love seeing my design come to life.