The popularity of mountain biking has attracted some big name sport stars from other codes over the years and we thought we’d bring you their stories. Kicking off with cricket, Full Sus spoke to former Western Province and Netherlands allrounder Billy Stelling.
William Frederick Stelling, might not have represented the Proteas in his 16 year first-class career but he did have AB de Villiers caught behind by Jeroen Smits for a two ball duck, in the first match of the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean, is a moment he loves to recount. He’s probably better known in South African mountain biking circles though by his @BillyMTBoy handle, hard racing and outspoken views.
Billy took up cycling in 2003 as a means of improving his fitness without putting strain on his body, a tip he’d suggest to bowlers in particular as the repetitive pounding of running puts strain on already stressed bowlers’ joints. In 2005 his competitive nature kicked in and Billy lined up on the start of the Epic and the sani2c, but it was in 2008 that he really began to focus on cycling.
In February 2008 Billy was hit by a car which left him bedridden for seven weeks and ended his cricket career. And maybe helped with his decision to spend more time on the mountain than the road. Since 2008 Billy has forged a reputation as one of the leading veteran riders in the country, especially in the ultra-endurance races like the 36One Challenge and the Trans Karoo. But it’s in his weekend fun riding that Billy really finds his mountain biking joy.
He’s been getting friends together and exploring the back roads of the Western Cape and the Karoo, sometimes supported by a back-up vehicle with all the extra gear and other times just taking the essentials for a solo mission. It was on one of those trips that Billy realised that more people should experience the vast beauty of the Karoo by mountain bike
The desire to share the back roads and trails he’d explored lead to the establishment of iThuba Ride, Billy’s mountain biking tour organisation company which he runs with Stuart Vorster. The concept is to offer tailor made tours, where iThuba does all the hard work, like setting up the itinerary, ferrying bags, putting up tents and cooking meals while the clients get to enjoy the riding without any peripheral worries.
The beauty of a custom tour is that you get to choose everything: destinations, distances, dates, and then leave the details to iThuba Ride to organise. They even do massages and personalised kit. iThuba Ride also offer four annual tours too, in addition to their custom tours, of which the highlight must be the five day ride from Laingsburg (after catching a train to the start from Cape Town) to the Knysna Oyster Festival.
Back to the mountain biking sportsmen, and Billy recons that more cricketers should be cycling and mountain biking in particular. Too many cricketers take up cycling after their careers are over, when they could be extending their careers by putting away their road running shoes and getting on the bike for cross training.
William (Billy) Frederick Stelling
Born: 30 June 1969
Batting Average: 30.00
Bowling: 22 wickets at 25.77
Mountain Biking: 2012 SA XCM Champs 2ndvets, 2012 Attakwas 9th (1stvet), 2014 36One Challenge 1st team and AmaRider 100miler 2014 4th(1stvet).
Cricketing Mountain Bikers
Jacques Rudolph – the classy Titians left hander once missed an SA A game to ride the joBerg2c with Gerald de Kock.
Nicky Boje – came a long way from suffering through a 15km ride on a Proteas team building camp in 2003 to competing in the joBerg2c in 2012.
Alan Dawson – the skiddy Western Province and Proteas seamer has an Iron Man 70.3 medal to keep his Cape Epic finishers’ medals company.
Jonty Rhodes – South Africa’s best loved 90’s cricketer is also an accomplished mountain biker and did the 2010 sani2c with his boet.