Natty Newbie episode 16: Should Natty live or die?

Natty contemplates life after sponsorship. For the pros there’s coaching, celebrity hosting and drug busts. For a Natty Newbie there’s… another 15-kilometre fun ride just around the corner.

So the Natty Newbie competition is over. I got myself to the start and finish line in Parys at the MTN Ride Crater Cruise event and officially my contract with CycleLab, which sponsored this adventure, has come to a close. What now for a newbie like Natty? My boss wants to shoot Natty. He says I spend more time at CycleLab than behind my desk! The Ride editors have laughed themselves silly at Natty’s expense. Occasionally they just pretend they can’t hear when another volley of stupid newbie questions comes their way.

Before Natty was born 10 weeks ago, I had an exercise bicycle. When I bought it I swore I would never pedal out the lounge. But the inevitable happened: Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives came to an end. A girl must find entertainment where she can. And the canola started flowering… too pretty to miss by staying indoors.

The thing about mountain biking is that you can’t really be indifferent to it; you’re either in it and loving it or your bike is gathering dust in the garage. From my very first wobbly moments as Natty Newbie, when one reader commented it was like watching a four-year-old ride (ha ha!), to revelling in beating an 11-year-old at the Crater Cruise 13-kay newbie race in Parys – I have fallen in love with mountain biking. Take yesterday, for instance: pushed for time, I jumped on my lovely Merida 29er in horse-riding boots (no spurs) and breeches and just went for a jaunt around the garden while the dogs tried to catch my pedals! Long leather dressage boots aren’t ideal for pedalling but Ride’s Deputy Editor, Jazz Kuschke, had told me you should lose the cleats every now and again to analyse your pedalling technique. I don’t think that’s quite what he had in mind, but that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Really it was just an excuse to get on my bike and ride!

So infectious is the mountain-biking spirit that some of my fiancé Johan’s friends and my work colleagues from other magazine titles (who had long forgotten their bikes in the garage) joined us at the 2KeepAbreast race for breast cancer this weekend. It was loads of fun and my competitive spirit kicked in with a vengeance – I nearly killed myself on a four-kilometre uphill slog into the Overgaauw Vineyards near Stellenbosch trying to win and finished in the top 10, I think. In two weeks’ time we’ll do the Curves Walk, Run, Ride and Fight Like a Girl race  (also open to men by the way). I am still in the 15 to 25-kilometre league. It’s a great distance to play around in, gather a few skills, have a giggle with the other cyclists and enjoy beautiful scenery. And you can still walk the next day.

So where to from here for a newbie cyclist? A few MTB skills clinics will help, some more short races… and maybe I’ll even tackle a road race, but I’m not sure that really has appeal. I like the rattle of Griet, my Merida (named after Liewe Heksie‘s magical horse) as she gallops down a bumpy hill, the little gasp as the back wheel slips on loose gravel and then the feeling of achievement when I stay upright instead of biting the dust.

Jazz asked me today: “Will you still cycle now that you’re not contractually obliged to?”

For sure!

And for the newbie followers out there – thank you – I’ll still blog. So keep reading, keep sharing and let’s spread the love of this great sport.

See you at the next baby race.

So Natty lives on – sorry, boss!



Natty Newbie gets into mountain biking

Natty Newbie starts mountain biking episode two: Bike set-up

Natty Newbie episode three: Six things Natty learned about mountain biking   

Natty Newbie episode four: Mountain biking first spills 

Natty Newbie episode five: Weight watching techniques

Natty Newbie episode six: Stretching her limits in a yoga class for cyclists

Natty Newbie episode seven: How to fix a puncture

Natty Newbie episode eight: Expanding the mountain biking family

Natty Newbie episode nine: 15 things to love and hate about mountain biking 

Natty Newbie episode 10: Prima donna mountain bike race jitters

Natty Newbie episode 11: What to pack for race day

Natty Newbie episode 12: Hi ho it’s off to the Crater Cruise we go

Natty Newbie episode 13: MTN Ride Crater Cruise race day

Natty Newbie episode 14: 13 mountain biking lessons from the MTN Ride Crater Cruise

Natty Newbie episode 15: Home remedies for race recovery

  • Enjoyed following your journey as I’m a newbie too! Thanks for all the tips. By the way, when will the winner be announced for the competition?

    • Natty Newbie

      Thanks Chantel, I enjoyed the journey too. The winner will be announced in this week’s webletter, due out on Thursday. If you don’t already subscribe to it, you can do so from the homepage.
      Good luck