The FNB Wines2Whales Challenge, which encouraged riders to donate R1 for every kilometre that they rode throughout 1 and 2 August, raised R100 000 for the Botrivier Crèche Initiative.

2020 has been a year that has challenged everyone, especially the events industry.

While many may see the FNB Wines2Whales as “just” a mountain bike event, the fact is that the event is much, much more. The FNB Wines2Whales has a rich history of supporting the communities through which the race passes; one such community is Botrivier.

Botrivier is a small town situated between Grabouw and Hermanus and within this small town is the Botrivier Crèche Initiative – home to six crèches that proudly offer a haven to the town’s youngest children. During the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe, these six crèches have been closed, resulting in many children being confined to their homes and going hungry as the meals they receive at the crèches are, sometimes, the only meal that they get to enjoy during the day.

The FNB Wines2Whales team formulated a plan to assist these crèches with much-needed funds, and the FNB Wines2Whales Challenge was born.

On the weekend of 1 and 2 August, the FNB W2W community was called upon to get out on their bikes to pedal in the name of #GEES4GOOD and then donate R1 per kilometre that they rode. To facilitate a social element during the challenge, an official Zwift event was held and riders from across the world joined in the fun and donated the Rand value of the kilometres ridden.

Every person who donated R40 or more was entered into the draw to win an FNB Wines2Whales entry, and amazing prizes from our sponsors, Ciovita, Falke, Squirt Cycling Products, and Oakley. Sune Henning was randomly drawn from a list of over 260 donations as the winner of the FNB W2W entry and she was ecstatic to have won by donating to the FNB Wines2Whales Challenge.

In total, R38 000 was donated by riders during the weekend. Title sponsor, FNB, added a further R30 000 to the pot, and then a silent donor contributed an additional R10 000. The FNB Wines2Whales staff then rallied together and donated R22 000, taking the total to R100 000!

“The FNB Wines2Whales Challenge was an incredibly fun and humbling campaign to be a part of” exclaimed Michael Flinn, Managing Director of the FNB Wines2Whales. “To see passionate riders from across the world, and all walks of life, supporting this incredible initiative which is so close to our hearts is absolutely fantastic. The funds raised during the Challenge will go towards PPE kits to allow the crèches to reopen safely and will go a long way to helping the Kammaland crèche to replace their roof, which was blown off during a recent storm. On behalf of the educators, and the Botrivier community, I wish to thank our partners, FNB, and every single person who donated!”

“The moments of help demonstrated by the riders to make a positive impact to the Botrivier community are aligned to the core values that the FNB Wines2Whales event abides by. We are very appreciative to everyone who heeded the call and made an effort to assist the community, especially during this difficult time” said Nancy Lockett, FNB, Head of Marketing and Events.

We would like to extend our deepest thanks to every rider who took the time to be a part of the FNB Wines2Whales Challenge, the donations will make the lives of the children in Botrivier that much better and we are sure that they’ll be cheering you on when the next FNB Wines2Whales passes through the town.

Happy Women’s day.

The FNB Wines2Whales has always placed a large emphasis on equality, through the focus the Chardonnay has on women’s racing, to the coverage of the event itself, with dedicated teams following every pedal stroke.

We caught up with 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay defending champion, Amy McDougall, to hear her top tips on breaking barriers and getting more women into cycling.

Amy McDougall of team Dormakaba during the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay.
Image by Xavier Briel

My advice to women getting into the sport for the first time is to go for skills training and get a coach.
I am extremely passionate about teaching skills because I made so many mistakes and wasted a lot of blood and tears by blundering through.
It obviously worked out well in the end but I could have saved myself a lot of grief had I had proper guidance from the beginning.

Many women start riding with more experienced men who put pressure on them to “just ride it” which creates massive anxiety and insecurity for the woman.

This is purely a generalisation, I know it’s not all men and I know it’s not necessarily malicious, but I’ve been a skills coach for 8 years and it’s a consistent pattern. There are so many nuances in skills and in getting strong on the bike, it is impossible to figure it out alone, especially if you didn’t start riding as a kid (and this goes for men and women equally). There is tons of advice I could give, but for me, this is the most important.
It is a very daunting sport at first, but absolutely worth it!
 
It is very exciting to see such a big surge in young female riders and a huge depth of talent in all our youngsters which I am very excited to see in the future. I feel that the industry as a whole has already really stepped up to the plate with the Schools MTB series and coaching kids from a young age.
Stage race and marathon events are starting to offer shorter distances specifically for them.

My generation definitely didn’t have that, I didn’t even know mountain biking was a thing until I was 19. I guess we could see more mentorship programs specifically for women, and that is actually the responsibility of us pro’s and accomplished women mountain bikers.

Amy McDougall and partner Robyn de Groot during the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay.
Image by Xavier Briel

I have always enjoyed the challenge of the sport and it is that, that brings me back to the FNB Wines2Whales. The excitement on event is amazing and last year’s weather provided even more #SeriousGees. I tend to strive in adversary so it suited me perfectly and also, I’m definitely happiest covered in mud.