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.