Biking in the Bosch skills guru, Joanna Dobinson, knows a few things about thriving, rather than just surviving, at the FNB Wines2Whales.

Don’t just survive the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales. Learn to thrive; regardless of the trails, weather and the antics of your fellow riders with the sage advice of Biking in the Bosch’s Joanna Dobinson.

“It’s a bucket list race because of the incredible beauty of the route” Dobinson praised before elaborating. “It is also a very ‘do-able’ route for most people. It’s very obtainable, in terms of distances for most riders too, which really helps. The highlight for me is the spectacularly diverse scenery and lekker gees among the riders! Traversing through the majestic mountains on Day One, into the fun technical “play day” in the vineyards and apple orchards on Day Two, and then dropping down the gorge to the pristine ocean views over Hermanus is just world-class.”

Turning her addition to skills, riders can practice in the final weeks leading into the event, the Stellenbosch based skills coach said: “The biggest request I get from my FNB W2W clients is to get them ready for the switchbacks on Day Two, in Paul Cluver, and on Day 3, into Houw Hoek. Getting into the Attack Position, looking ahead and remembering that momentum is your friend are the first steps! Then focus on line selection; take the corner wide on entry and cut onto the inside to give yourself space in the turn. The same applies for your lines on uphill and downhill switchbacks. A handy trick to put into practice is elbows out on the downs, for stability, and elbows in on the uphill switchbacks to prevent your front wheel from lifting.”

“This will be my fourth FNB Wines2Whales” Dobinson continued. “So, I know the route relatively well. For me the toughest section of the route is the piece between the Gantouw Pass portage and the Grabouw Country Club water point on Stage 1. The A2Z Trails, though fun, are sandy in places and after using different muscles for the portage can cause you to cramp. So, take a cramp-blocking tablet.”

Dobinson listed The Gorge, Stage 3’s Land Rover Experience Section trail as her favourite of the route. Then added it was difficult to pick a second favourite from the plethora of trails on Paul Cluver and Oak Valley on Stage 2.

The FNB Wines2Whales is not just about amazing riding however. Many riders camp in the race village and for them Dobinson has advice too. “Be sure to pack ear plugs” she warned. “And bring as much bedding as you can to ensure you’re warm, there’s nothing worse than not sleeping before a ride because you got cold during the night. It’s really helpful to have a shoulder bag, or backpack, with everything you need for showering. I always pack flip-flops too, but also fill it with your towel, shower gel, casual clothes, etc. It makes your life so much easier and saves you extra trips to the showers because you’ve forgotten something.”

“The pros watch the amount of time they spend on their feet post stage, so do everything you can to minimise walking around aimlessly or standing around” Dobinson added. “Get yourself a spot in the FNB Rider Lounge or Cape Brewing Co Chill Zone and put your feet up.”

“From a personal point of view, Kasha Dickie and I will be riding the FNB W2W Chardonnay race as Team Wild & Free” Dobinson stated. “I’m really excited. It’ll be the first time I start in an all women start group. And to be honest it is a little intimidating to line up alongside some of the best riders in the world. But Kasha and I are really looking forward to it and getting a free run into the singletrack downhills!”

Joanna Dobinson’s Top Tips for Thriving Through FNB W2W

Top Tip for Stage 1: Don’t start too fast! It’s a long day, which starts with a 7-kilometre-long climb and includes the portage too. So, pace yourself on Stage 1. I’ve found riding Stage 1 in shoes with a non-carbon sole is best, they’re more flexible and comfortable to hike-a-bike up the Gantouw Pass in.

Top Tip for Stage 2: There are so many switchbacks on Stage 2, so my tip for the day is regarding line choice. Start the corner wide, cut though the apex and make sure you turn your head and look towards where you want to go.

Top Tip for Stage 3: Save energy for the climb from the Wildekrans trails to Water Point 2. You need to conserve energy there so you have lots of gees for the Gaf-se-Bos and Hemel en Aarde singletracks.

In the spirit of #SeriousGEES, we’re giving you the chance to win an entry into the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event! If we’ve caught your attention; keep reading, enjoy the ride and find out how you can enter, for a chance to win.

Cycling and photography go hand in hand. Now is your chance to share your wheelie great experiences of life behind bars and get creative for a chance to win a standard tented entry, valued at R14 950, into the 2019 FNB W2W Pinotage event!

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow us on Instagram and Like our Facebook page
  • Upload a photo of you and your riding partner in a riding pic on Instagram or Facebook
  • Tag us (in the picture and the caption) and the person you want to ride with
  • Use the hashtags #SeriousGEESSnap and #Wines2Whales in your caption and tell us why you want to ride the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales

One winner will be randomly selected from all entries that have correctly followed the instructions. The more times you enter, the greater your chance of winning an entry.

The competition starts right now and will end on Friday 27 September. The winner will be announced on Monday 30 September.

The decision is final, and the prize is not transferable for cash. T&Cs apply and can be found as a note on our Facebook page.

The 2019 FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event will receive a boost of #SeriousGEES by hosting the Varsity MTB event within the three day stage race.

Varsity Sports has become one of South Africa’s most recognisable sporting brands. The organisation promotes university football, netball, basketball, athletics hockey, cricket and of course mountain biking between the country’s foremost institutions of higher education. In 2019 the Varsity MTB race will form part of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event and as a result boast three days of scintillating racing.

By forming part of the mid-week Pinotage event in the FNB Wines2Whales series of races the students taking part will be treated to one of South Africa’s premier stage racing experiences. They will race the full course, from Lourensford to Oak Valley and on to Onrus over the three days of the race. The extended format will ensure that the strongest mountain biking team, from one of the country’s top six cycling universities, will be crowned 2019 Varsity MTB champions.

Bonga Sebesho, Head of Sponsorships at FNB said they are excited that FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event will host Varsity MTB. “This symbiotic event epitomises our strategy of unearthing and supporting talent from the grassroots levels to professional sport in South Africa. Mountain biking is a growing sport in South Africa and there is a growing number of students who are participating in the sport. We see this event as an enabler for students to develop their skills and showcase their talent. FNB will continue to invest in creating a pipeline of talent in all the different sporting codes that we support,” he concluded.

Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi from Varsity Sports echoed Sebesho’s sentiments. “We’re extremely excited to have the return of Varsity MTB. We watched the teams take part at the USSA MTB and there are some very strong riders that will relish the opportunity to take part in the prestigious FNB W2W. It is our goal through all our sporting codes to provide a platform for talent to flourish and this will be no different. We look forward to seeing our riders in action and partnering with the ever growing successful FNB W2W race.”

“Varsity MTB is a rad event because it’s super unique,” enthused the 2017 women’s champion Frankie du Toit. Du Toit won the event alongside her Maties teammate Nicky Giliomee that year. “You’re competing against your peers, other university students, on amazing trails and just having a good time,” the Stellenbosch Sport Science student explained.

Teams from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, North-West University, University of Pretoria, Nelson Mandela University and the Tshwane University of Technology, will be invited to compete. Each of the six universities will be invited to send two teams; either men’s, women’s or one of each.

The Varsity MTB teams will have the honour of being individually called up to an AA start batch on Stage 1 of the race, thereafter they will start with the rest of the field in a batch determined by each team’s overall time.

“The Varsity MTB is going to add #SeriousGEES to the 2019 Pinotage race” Michael Flinn, the Managing Director of FNB Wines2Whales said. “I think I can speak for the whole team when I say I look back fondly on my varsity days. I’m sure that the Varsity MTB forming part of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage will provide participating students with memories which will last them a lifetime. Memories I’m sure they’ll forge on and off the bike at what is a famously social event. They will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with both on the trails and in the CBC Chill Zone” he concluded with a knowing smile.

With the Swiss Epic kicking off in less than a week, we sat down the BMT Fairtree Academy pair, Luyanda Thobigunya and Zola Ngxakeni, who were grinning from ear to ear as they chatted about their scheduled trip to the Swiss Epic in Switzerland’s Graubunden region, which is home to over 17 000 kilometres of mountain bike trails. The team won the entry and trip to the Epic Series race by winning the Exxaro Category at the 2018 FNB Wines2Whales. Their excitement goes far beyond the race however.

“I have always wanted to ride in Switzerland” the more talkative of the pair, Ngxakeni, confessed. “Switzerland is the country of Christoph Sauser, Nino Schurter, Lars Forster and so many more of the world’s best mountain bikers. We’re also excited to experience a new culture. Lots of people come to South Africa and we try to show and explain our culture to them but now we will be in that situation of learning. It’s a dream come true!”

Ngxakeni will be teaming up with Thobigunya after Baphelele Mbobo, Thobigunya’s FNB Wines2Whales winning partner, left the academy. “Luyanda is so strong, it’s an honour to race with him” Ngxakeni acknowledged.

For his part Thobigunya had little to add. He appeared happy to let his chatty partner do the talking off the bike. “We’d love to finish in the top twenty overall” he offered quietly. “But we know it’ll be very difficult. There is over 2 000 metres of climbing every day” Thobigunya nervously pointed out.

That is why the pair have been rigorously cross-training. In fact, they had just come from a workout at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport where they had been put through their paces in a core and upper body strength training session. “I used to think what was the point of training my upper body, you don’t use it for pedalling” Ngxakeni recounted. “I am starting to see the benefits now though. Especially when I get tired on the bike, all the core and abdominal training helps your breathing when you are exhausted. I know that this training will come in very useful on the long climbs of the Swiss Epic!”

It is both Thobigunya and Ngxakeni’s first international trip. “We have been really fortunate to have been able to travel around the province and even South Africa to race our bikes” Ngxakeni said, expressing his gratitude to BMT, Fairtree Capital, Exxaro and the Spur School’s Mountain Bike League. “It is our first oversees trip though and we are really excited by that. It has been stressful though, especially getting passports and visas!”

“We also realise how privileged we are to be given this opportunity” Thobigunya humbly said. “Thank you to Exxaro, FNB Wines2Whales, our sponsors Fairtree Capital, BMT bike shop and Chris Norton. It is great that Chris will be coming with us to Switzerland too, he’s a fantastic mentor and has helped us so much to get to this point” Ngxakeni added.

“As the Swiss Epic approaches it feels like time is slowing down” Ngxakeni laughed. “We are looking forward to learning so much. Even if we make mistakes one day we will learn from them and improve the next. And at the end of the Swiss Epic we will be taking so much experience home, to use in stage races here in South Africa, like FNB Wines2Whales.”

Thobigunya and Ngxakeni are aware that the Swiss Epic will provide experiences beyond the bike. “We work in Environmental Education at Boschendal, between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, so the cultural lessons and experience we will gain in Switzerland will definitely help us at work too” Ngxakeni concluded.

To spread the good fortune which mountain bikers enjoy FNB Wines2Whales have extended their charity programme to include 15 official beneficiaries in 2019. Each charity will receive a complimentary standard entry, for any of the three events, as well as an additional reserved entry, for any of the events. Additionally charities will be able to purchase block bookings of entries to the Pinotage event, where a dedicated charity start batch will help create a vibe of #SeriousGEES around the riders taking part for a good cause.

As an added incentive the event will be aiding the charities in their fund raising efforts in the build up to and during the race. Additionally the most successful charity drive will be rewarded with a complimentary entry to one of the 2020 events too.

“We are very excited, as an organisation, to be working with such a wide range of exceptional charities,” Marc Erasmus, Account Manager, for FNB Wines2Whales said. “Some of them we have been working with for years while others are new to us. Both, we are sure, will make great use of the platform provided by the FNB W2W events to raise valuable funds for their charitable efforts. It also feels great to be able to contribute to the remarkable works of these charities.”

“FNB Wines2Whales is so much more than just a mountain bike race and it fills us with pride that we are able to help those less fortunate than us while going about our work on the events” Erasmus concluded.

Among the 15 official charities is the Alta du Toit Aftercare Centre. The centre has a proud 40 year history of helping adults with intellectual disabilities by providing them with nursing care and skills development. Currently there are 160 residential and 50 day-care clients benefiting from the charity’s work group, sports and social activity programmes.

The CHOC COWS will arguably be the most readily recognisable of the official charities on the trails. The COWS will be pedalling their way through the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales in their famous Holstein Friesian cow suits, knowing that they risk heat stroke to raise funds for children with cancer.

There will not be much time to get a good moustache going by the time the Shiraz event wraps up on the 3rd of November but the Men’s Foundation of SA will be in attendance. Their Movember campaign has grown over the years to include not just prostate cancer awareness but also testicular cancer and mental health issues too.

The charitable spirit of FNB Wines2Whales need not stop with the official charities though. Individuals wishing to raise funds for a cause close to their hearts are welcome to do so in the build-up to the events too. To do so they can log on to the races’ Charities and Beneficiaries page on the website: www.wines2whales.com/involve/charities. From there they will be directed on how to set up a GivenGain account.

As a reward, BigBox Containers has allocated a prize for the team who raises the most money for their chosen charity per event: a stay in the BigBox Luxury container for two, complete with real beds, fresh linen and air conditioning! Now that sure beats roughing it in a tent, especially if you’ve enjoyed one too many glasses of the region’s famous wines!

To donate to one of the official charities please visit www.givengain.com.

CHARITY WEBSITE
Rainbows and Smiles www.rainbowsandsmiles.org.za
CHOC COWS www.thecows.co.za
Anna Foundation www.annafoundation.com
The Chaeli Campaign www.chaelicampaign.co.za
Cape of Good Hope SPCA www.capespca.co.za
Samaritan’s Feet www.samaritansfeet.co.za
Operation Smile South Africa www.southafrica.operationsmile.org
MES PE www.mes.org.za
Qhubeka www.qhubeka.org
Men’s Foundation of SA www.movember.com
The Pebbles Project Trust www.pebblesproject.co.za
Vuselela School Makeover www.vuselela.org
Mission Without Borders SA www.mwb-sa.org
Alta du Toit Aftercare Centre www.altadutoit.org.za
CANSA Active www.cansa-active.org.za

Mountain biking is a thirsty business, so it is fortunate for all FNB Wines2Whales entrants that LinAqua are committing to keeping every rider hydrated.

Stellenbosch based mineral water brand LinAqua will be taking care of every FNB Wines2Whales riders rehydration needs from 2019 and beyond. Having recently joined the stage race’s sponsorship family their focus is clear; to provide mountain bikers with high quality drinking water so they can get on with the important things, like riding their bikes and enjoying the #SeriousGEES.

LinAqua first started bottling water, on the Linquenda farm, in March 2019. The water is extracted from deep granite formations and is bottled in 100% recyclable bottles. In fact, even the caps of LinAqua bottles are 100% recyclable. Along with the companys environmental consciousness they are also committed to job creation in their area, employing and upskilling members of the local community.

LinAqua is owned and managed by cycling enthusiasts, Paul Roux, the Managing Director of LinAqua Water explained. “As a community driven business, we wanted to be involved with the FNB Wines2Whales events as it is important to supply cyclists with clean natural drinking water to replenish the natural minerals they have sweated out while on the bike,” he elaborated.

The early summer heat and losing fluids while riding can cause dehydration, Hendrico Burger, FNB Wines2Whales Race Director stated. We are therefore thrilled to welcome LinAqua into our sponsorship family. It can be easy to forget to drink enough water after a stage, but with LinAqua’s bottled mineral water readily at hand it will make it far more convenient for riders to rehydrate.

Burger continued: It is important to FNB Wines2Whales that LinAqua’s bottles are 100% recyclable. Single use plastics are obviously a major concern and as one of the foremost mountain biking stage races in the country, we feel it is our responsibility to lead the way in the reduction of plastics which get sent to landfill. We will be working with LinAqua and all our other sponsors and suppliers to devise ways to mitigate the amount of plastic used during FNB Wines2Whales.

To find out more about LinAqua please visit www.linaqua.co.za, while for more information on FNB Wines2Whales please visit www.wines2whales.com

 

E-Bikes are the fastest growing sector in cycling but events have been slow to allow them into races due to a number of restrictions. Luckily the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event is unbound by such limitations, so for 2019, E-Bikers are welcome!

To ensure the safety of their fellow riders all E-Bikers, and their non-pedal assisted partners, will start in the event’s final batch. But they will be able to ride the entire route and with a battery swap service (conditional to you bringing your own spare battery of course), the distance won’t be a concern.

With the added power of an electric motor helping them along, the E-Bikers will be able to take in the route like never before. They’ll be able to cruise up the Vergelegen Climb and conquer any obstacle the race throws at them. As long as, of course, their E-Bikes have the walk-assist function… pushing 20+kg bikes up the Gantouw Pass without that handy function might be a touch tricky. And you can be sure no rider on a one HP(human power in this case) mountain bike is going to lend a hand.

“The rationale behind allowing E-Bikes to take part in the mid-week event is to make it more inclusive,” Sarah Harrop, Head of Marketing and Communications for FNB Wines2Whales, explained. “We’re hoping to attract riders who would otherwise not be able to take part in an MTB stage event for reasons that could vary from disability, age, health issues or simply fitness. It also allows the opportunity for stronger partners to introduce friends, family members or youngsters to the sport without the “10 hours per week” training sacrifice. We will ensure that the inclusion of E-Bike riders will not interfere with the race itself.”

Charging E-Bikes can pose an issue in a race village, however AMPED has come to the rescue and will be ensuring that all E-Bikes are charged and ready to rumble each morning.

The effervescent Joanna, or Jo as she’s better known, Dobinson is one of FNB Wines2Whales’ official ambassadors. She loves nothing more than up-skilling women on mountain bikes through her brand Biking in the Bosch. To help women, of all skill levels, prepare for the 2019 events Jo is hosting three FNB Wines2Whales Women’s Rides on the 13th and 20th of July as well as the 10th of August.

The rides will be hosted through Jo’s skills and coaching company Biking in the Bosch and are free to all female mountain bikers. Those who have already entered the FNB Wines2Whales will receive a complimentary Ciovita race jersey. To secure your spot please email registration@wines2whales.com and let us know which event you’d like to attend.

Dates and Venues

13 July – Jonkershoek

20 July – Hoogekraal

10 August – Tokai

See our Facebook event

What You Need to Know

The Women’s Rides are for all female mountain bikers, experienced or novice; regardless of whether you intend to ride FNB W2W or not. The idea is to gain confidence on the trails in an inclusive environment where everyone can safely push their limits and learn from Jo as well as fellow riders.

For each session you are required to bring your bike, usual MTB gear (including a helmet most importantly) and #SeriousGEES. Then meet at the designated trail head by 07h30, pay the trail permit fee and be ready to pedal out on a two hour ride by 8am. Upon returning to the trail head riders will be treated to a complimentary glass of bubbles from Wildekrans Wine Estate.

What You Can Expect to Learn

Mountain biking is about more than just fitness. You need grit, determination and sometimes the bush mechanic skills of MacGyver to get you home. With Jo’s help you’ll learn and, knowing Jo, laugh your way through being nervous around CO2 canisters, to plugging punctures for the men in your riding group in no time. Plus she’ll be providing pointers on bike setup, on-bike position and of course some skills tips too.

Book Your Place

Email registration@wines2whales.com to join one of the group rides. And if you have already entered one of the 2019 races be sure to include your Ciovita jersey size as you’ll be receiving a FNB Wines2Whales cycling top at the first ride you attend.

Land Rover, our official route and vehicle partner, are assisting in ensuring that there’s as much #SeriousGEES on the trails as there is in the famed Race Village. With the gees-o-meter already ringing after our recent Route Update announcement, Land Rover knew that the only way to elevate the excitement was by designating sections of each day’s trails to smiles, skills, and thrills.

Introducing the Land Rover Experience Sections!

Candice Lill’s 2018 FNB Wines2Whales victory capped the best season of her career thus far; but halfway into 2019, she is on course to exceed last year’s results. We caught her in fine form after her European racing block and put her perfectly honed singletrack skills to good use to showcase how each Land Rover Experience section can (and should) be ridden. Here’s a breakdown of what’s to come:

Willie’s Trail

Willie’s Trail provides the first of the events’ Land Rover Experience trails. Located in the run-in to the Grabouw Country Club and the final water point of the day, it provides riders with the chance to test their skills on a lengthy piece of trail that could become sandy if the sun comes out. The trailhead is within easy walking distance from the spectator point at the Grabouw Country Club so expect fans to line sections of the tight and twisting singletrack and cheer you on.

Strava: FNB W2W | Willie’s Trail

KOM: Lance Stephenson (03:48 | 2019)

QOM: Barbara Benko (04:21 | 2019)

Pofadder

Having been rebuilt for the 2019 events there can be no argument that Pofadder is a fitting choice for Stage 2’s Land Rover Experience. At 420 metres long it is by no means the lengthiest singletrack of the stage but it is sure to be the most memorable. It starts as a path cut into the steep mountainside before crossing a the ravine on an  impressive bridge built partially from the farm’s retired wine barrels. The nervous among the FNB W2W field need not be concerned as the bridge is covered by a wire mesh, ensuring excellent grip regardless of the weather conditions.

Strava: Pofadder ST

KOM: Xavier Damseaux (00:52 | 2017)

QOM: Sarah Hill (01:17 | 2018)

The Gorge

The Gorge will be more than familiar to any FNB W2W old hand. The trail hugs the cliff face while below to the left the Onrus River bubbles downstream towards the sea. Featuring an intimidating initial drop, on a bridge, it gradually opens and becomes increasingly easy to ride at pace. It is definitely less technical than it looks, so do not be unnecessarily intimidated, trust your skills and your bike will do the rest.

Strava: FNB W2W | The Gorge

KOM: Alfred Horne (1:05 | 2017)

QOM: Sabine Spitz (1:26 | 2019)