For Maties Cycling’s Frankie du Toit the best part of cycling is being on an amazing trail during golden hour, just before sunset.
“I love that feeling. I also love just going on a cruise with a whole bunch of friends and enjoying being out on the bike.”
But it’s not all sunsets and socialising. Being an elite cyclist and South African champion requires hard work and sacrifices.
“The worst part of cycling is when it’s freezing outside or still dark and you’re tired and stiff and you have to get outside to do a hard set of intervals,” she says.
Recently crowned the South African under-23 cross-country champion, Frankie left for Australia on her 20th birthday – Saturday September 2 – to compete in the UCI MTB World Championships in Cairns.
This trip became a reality after she managed to raise all the funds necessary to represent her country internationally. Due to Cycling South Africa’s (CSA) new self-funding policy, Frankie initially thought she would not be able to go. However, after mentioning her plight on social media she managed to raise enough money to cover the cost of her trip.
“I was overwhelmed with support. I didn’t expect this kind of response,” she says.
“I am so excited about this trip. It is always such an honour to represent your country. I am hoping for a top 20 finish, but we will see how it goes.”
This first-year BA sport science student from Wartburg, a small farming town outside Pietermaritzburg, started racing seriously when she was 15.
“I got involved in cycling because my parents ride, and my sister and I would go with them when they went to local races. I was super competitive so I would always go as hard as I could. My sister wasn’t so competitive, but now she’s in Maties Rowing’s A crew so maybe cycling just wasn’t her sport.”
In 2015, Frankie won South African titles in all the major cycling disciplines: cross country, marathon, time trial and road. Cross country (XCO) remains her favourite event, though.
She loves being part of the Maties Cycling Club and made a big impression at the recent University Sport South Africa (USSA) competition, where she won the women’s category.
“We have the Varsity MTB Challenge coming up at the end of September and I’m also doing a stage race – the Cape Pioneer Trek – with Nicky Giliomee, chairperson of Maties Cycling, which I am very excited about.”
Frankie enjoys cycling in the Stellenbosch area.
“There are so many options to ride. I think my favourite would have to be the G-spot, a local trail. It’s amazing.”
Frankie is not only a high performance (HP) student-athlete, but also an IMAS (Integrated Medicine and Science) bursary holder. This bursary is awarded to athletes who have shown exceptional performance in their sport, and assists the athlete to enhance his/her performance through integrated interventions across the areas of sport medicine, performance enhancement and empowerment.
“The IMAS bursary is amazing. It gives me access to services that help me be in the best shape for my riding. It’s the extra push that I need.”
She trains between 12 and 16 hours a week and stay on top of her work by paying close attention in all her lectures.
“When I’m away I try and get some studying in too,” she adds.
Her role models are two female cyclists: Jenny Rissveds from Sweden an Annika Langvad from Denmark.
“They’re both amazing athletes who are very good at keeping calm during races and focusing on what they need to do. Both of them are also very versatile riders.”