Franki Du Toit, fresh off the top spot of the Women’s podium of the tough EzelEnduro in the Western Cape, is one of the top contenders expected to make her way to the Karkloof. The 21-year-old who is currently studying at Stellenbosch, explained why she has taken to Enduro increasingly in 2018 “I love it because it's a much more relaxed vibe than other forms of racing, like the cross-country environment. I find that the people are much friendlier, they are very inclusive, and it sounds kind of corny but I feel it's the true essence of mountain biking. You are literally just smashing trails, it's amazing, you have such freedom riding because you can go as hard as you like, or as slow or as playful or whatever, you can just make it yours and I love that about it".
About the actual Championship race, Du Toit added “Winning Ezel was obviously a bit of a confidence booster for me, so we will see how SA Champs goes. I am not sure what kind of trails we will be riding, whether they will be more tech or more pedally or whatever, so obviously that will play a big role. This whole Enduro thing has kind of snow-balled for me, I did my second Enduro at the beginning of the year, and then I was injured, and literally four days after the doctor told me I could ride again I did an Enduro…and since then I just haven't stopped, so I am excited to see how it goes”.
Steffanie Grossmann is a young Namibian rider who has been making waves in both the KZN and Gauteng riding scenes. If you put anything with two wheels in front of her, Steffi will find a way to ride it – normally downhill, very fast, and with little sense of preservation. Over the past year, her wild abandon has been shaped into some solid skill and equally impressive results with consistent podiums in KZN and a clean sweep of first places in the Gauteng Enduro series in the senior category. “This being my first year competing in Enduro, I was super impressed with the vibes and the comradeship of all the riders. Everybody is just so chilled, while still being competitive, and the other thing I really liked...not having to race up the uphill! Enduro is just epic, and everybody who has experience in mountain biking should try it sometime” added Grossmann.
Making the great trek all the way from Mpumalanga, the stylish, viper quick 17-year-old Zandri Strydom is set to make her way to the Karkloof too. Zandri is well known in the gravity mountain biking scene as a capable rider who, when she finds time between all her XC racing, tends to disrupt the status quo in both Downhill and Enduro. In fact, she took the South African Championships Ladies DH overall this year at Harties, and won the ladies overall at the first South African Enduro Championships at Hakahana in 2017. But she’s also known for putting fun over medals, “I like the format because it is such a fun way of racing! You can ride up the mountain and chat with your friends. And then when the stage begins - you can chase them down the mountain. I feel quite excited coming into the Enduro champs, I only train for XCO and not really Enduro, so I’m only going to enjoy it. But it’s always a super fun event”.
And last, but certainly not least, is local KZN shredder Sabine ‘Beani’ Thies. 16-year-old Thies has had an excellent year of podiums in both DH and Enduro, and even after suffering a wrist fracture in Karkloof at a DH Provincial, is raring to take on the trails come October 27th. In her move toward world cup racing experience, Thies took an international scalp this year placing second in the IXS Rookie’s World Champs in Serfaus Fiss Ladis, Austria. Known for her focused race face and jumping skills, Thies is considered a Karkloof local, and loves the trails. “Karkloof is very close to where I live, and I try and ride there as much as possible. Karkloof is always fun because there is a skill level for everyone, and you don't have to be advanced and you don't have to be a novice to just go ride it, so there are skill ranges for everyone, and they also keep upgrading them, so you never get tired of the trails”.
With the potent mixture of awesome trails, young gutsy talent and pure excitement to simply be out in the hills with their friends riding bikes - the ladies overall race is sure to be on another level. If you want to partake in the South African Enduro Championships supported by Specialized, FOX, aQuellé and Cooked Orange, don’t waste time. With 140 entries taken and only 40 spots left, it’s slim pickings! Enter here at https://www.roag.co.za/default.aspx