TuksCycling takes on Zwartkop Raceway with Ruben van der Merwe

Ntokozo Zondo

TuksCycling participated in the Zwartkop Raceway over the weekend on 18 March. The club sent members to compete in the event; Ruben van der Merwe, Johan Jooste and Andries Nigrini. van der Merwe sat down with Perdeby to discuss the event, training and the mental aspect of cycling.

 

What is the Zwartkop event and how does competing in it benefit club members?
The event is a criterium race, which is a race of multiple laps that amount to a 1km course for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, a bell goes off for one last lap to determine the winner. Points are accu­mulated after a few races to determine the overall winner. Cornering and bike handling plays a large part of the race, therefore requiring a great deal of technical skills therefore benefiting the members by improving their bike handling and cornering confidence.

 

What is your training regime and how do different competitions affect your training technique?
About a year ago I started working with a coach, Jaco Ferreira, who I give my events and my goals to. [Among other things], he will use my stats from my training, heart rate, power to provide me with an analysed program to prepare for the events and to improve my weaknesses for these specific events.

 

How do you mentally prepare yourself for the challenges you face while competing?
For me, mindset is everything in this sport. There’s always the risk of facing challenges like misreading a situation and ultimately getting dropped by the bunch. But there’s also always a next race. I prepare for challenges by accepting them. I tell myself that for the next 3-4 hours I’m going to experience extreme suffering and push my limits. Time passes quickly in a race but the feeling of regret and giving up lasts a lot longer than just pushing yourself for those few hours.

One might have more talent or skills then you do, but if you can push yourself a little further and harder over one more climb while others give up, you get closer to your goal. It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.

 

What do you attribute your success in cycling to?
I truly believe that God gives me the strength to do what I’m capable of and to push myself a little bit more. I always say a prayer before rides and races for Him to keep me safe, because you never know what can happen on a ride. My family also played a big role in my career, supporting me mentally and financially. I wouldn’t be able to take part in races and to have the equipment I had if it wasn’t for them. And then my coach, Jaco Ferreira. He helped me to get into the sport and improved me exponentially over these past few months. The members at my club that I joined when I started cycling, Cycle Lab Lynwood, also played a large role in my improvement.

 

Which is the most anticipated event you will be participating in this year and why?
Tour de Limpopo is definitely a big one on the calendar. It’s a UCI 2.2 category tour which is the biggest road cycling Tour in Africa with participation being by invite only. This means that there will be some strong teams and even foreign teams as well. I am very fortunate that my team, Vander Group, was invited to represent Gauteng North at the tour and we look to make a big impact and learn as much as possible from the bigger teams.

 

TuksCycling appears to be a male domi­nated club, why do you think that is?
I think the reason is because women are less exposed to the cycling life than men. If you look on campus, there are more males than females traveling to class via bicycle. So I think it’s more of a safety issue that men feel less vulnerable when deciding to commute than women who decide to rather take the bus. And some boys pick up cycling as a form of commuting since primary or high school where parents don’t risk their daughters to cycle alone. This results in a larger male ratio of cyclists.

But the female members are growing. And you can see it on all the different group rides and races in the country. Which is good, it provides a more balanced society and I would hope to see female participation grow even more at the TuksCycling club as well.

 

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