Feature: Lockdown “Rendevous” with the Pros

Weekend warriors and pro’s alike were all forced to rethink their riding regime due to the current global Covid-19 pandemic. Former Full Sus MTB editor Frans le Roux caught up with some of our country’s best riders to discover what they’ve been up to during lockdown.



Matt leading his UAE Emirates team out

What have you been doing to keep motivated during the LD? 

In the beginning stages of the heavy lockdown I spent all my time on the indoor trainer and raced a lot of Zwift races which kept my motivation high as it brings in that “racing aspect”. My motivation is to stay as fit as possible because racing could start at any time, we just don’t know.


What have you missed the most?

In the beginning of lockdown, I obviously missed the freedom of riding outside whenever I wanted to, but we are less restricted now. I am happy to be able to ride all day now. I miss all the excitement of racing and not all the MTB trails are open at the moment, so we can’t train anywhere right now.


What’s the first thing you are going to do when all the restrictions are lifted?

I would love to go on a road trip and leave the city for a bit.



Ariane feeling that E-bike stoke in Switzerland with some of her biggest fans in attendance

What have you been doing to keep motivated during the LD? 

On the bike I’ve been working on my weaknesses and have done some race simulations on a XC lap to make the intense training a bit more fun. The spare time allowed me to focus on more important things in this world and organise a fundraiser for the people less fortunate than me. This gave me the biggest boost in motivation. What have you missed the most? My boyfriend from Belgium. We couldn’t see each other for two months because of closed borders.


How do you find riding with a mask?

Fortunately, in Switzerland we never needed to wear a mask while riding. I can only imagine how difficult it must me to breath with a mask over your nose and mouth when you’re riding hard.


What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most?

Definitely the Swiss Epic. I love the trails there and very much hope I get to race it with my partner Alice Pirard this year. But I also hope that I’ll be able to travel to Norway for the Skaidi Xtreme. It is a very
unique race in the most northern part of Norway and is organised by incredibly nice people who became good friends.



Frankie effortlessly navigates through a rock garden in Lesotho

What’s your biggest positive lesson you’ve learnt about yourself, people and our sport – as a result of LD?

I’ve learned that people will always find a way to do what they love. Whether it be riding day in day out on Zwift (for those lucky enough to have access to Zwift), or building little tracks and ramps in their back garden, or in my case – sleeping on the floor for six weeks so I could be on a farm with some space to ride!


How do you find riding with a mask? Will you continue with it after LD?

It’s hard! I’m not the biggest fan, especially doing intervals with a mask, it feels like I’m riding at altitude. I understand why it’s necessary now, but once I don’t have to, I definitely won’t be doing it!


What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why?

I was supposed to be going over to Europe to race in my first ever EWS (Enduro World Series) races in Italy and Slovenia at the beginning of July, so I’m very upset that it is no longer happening. I’m also really going to miss the local Enduro Western Cape series races and Western Cape DH series. It’s always such a vibe getting together to play bikes with a whole bunch of other people that love it too!



Jaco casually dropping watt-bombs during the 2017 edition of the famous Tour de France.

What have you missed the most?

Seeing friends and family and being able to go outside whenever you feel like it. Riding in the dark also wasn’t enjoyable, and I’ve really missed Jonkershoek and Helderberg trails, but I am lucky that there are really good trails in my area.


What’s the first thing you are going to do when all restrictions are removed?

I’m planning on a three or four day training camp somewhere in the mountains, both for my head and my legs.


What is the event that is either still happening this year (well hopefully) or will happen next year that you are looking forward to the most?

It’s really difficult to plan a race schedule at the moment, which translates to no specific goal to train towards. I really hope to do Wines2Whales and Sani2C at the end of the season, but to be honest, I’m not that picky at the moment and would just like to start racing again.



Sarah charging ahead of team mate Theresa Ralph during the 2019 Absa Cape Epic

What have you been doing to keep motivated during LD?

When lockdown stage 5 first began, my MTB skills business took a big knock as I had to stop teaching completely! I couldn’t really teach virtually, because a large component of my teaching is about adapting to my client and making sure I develop them at their pace. Luckily, I am still a cycling coach who prescribes training programs, so my main source of income remained relatively stable throughout lockdown (a special thank you to all my athletes who stuck with me through this time!). I also started studying my MA Sports Psychology degree, which kept me busy at nights. It was so hard not seeing my friends and chatting virtually and telephonically can only go so far. My motivation to train never really dipped, and I have all my friends from Joburg to thank for that! We are used to the city life, where we wake up early, ride before traffic, and head to the office by eight! During the winters it often gets dark, and cold, and so most of us already had indoor trainers. Thank goodness! I was introduced to this virtual racing app called Zwift, and suddenly, we were creating our own meetups, then entering our own races, and then making our own race series!


What have you missed the most?

Lockdown really made me miss quality time with my close friends. I am recently single, which made the whole isolation thing so lonely! I missed hugs and sitting around a table with everyone laughing with each other. I missed girls’ nights, movie nights, going out to restaurants! Flip for Level 5 I even missed driving, traffic, and the radio! The thing I missed the most was human touch.


What event that was cancelled were you the most upset about and why?

Magoeba Trek! – This is such a magical race that I always look forward to. I have done it twice now and, on both occasions, I have fallen in love with the Limpopo mountains. They are so dense and raw. You can get lost for hours! When lockdown is over I will be heading there for a potential Epic 2021 Training Camp. Dirty Kansa! – Oh my word, I was so looking forward to this race. I got in via the lottery entries, and the opportunity to go and race 200 miles on gravel in Emporia, Kansas, USA was going to be incredible. Luckily, they differed our entry to next year, so I can still go for it!



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.