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3 days, 200km, 4500m elevation.

Anja, Valerie, Imelda and Danya will taste the GEES of this year’s FNB Wines2Whales.

This being their first MTB stage event, both teams are nervous about what they will be up against in the days to come.

A last-minute route change sees the start and finish of day one shifting to Lourensford Estate due to complications on the Hermanus trails after the recent floods.

Anja van der Colff, co-owner to Dirt Addict, who won an entry at this year’s Paarl Bike Fest, will be trusting experienced road and mountain biker, Valerie Eve to guide her through the 3 days.

Imelda “Big Blade” van den Berg will be partnering with Danya Engelbrecht who only months ago traded her running shoes for the two wheels.

We asked to share their thoughts with us.  

Is this your first stage event?
Anja: Yes.
Val: Yes, one of many hopefully.
Imelda: Yes.
Danya: This is my first real MTB stage race.  

What are you looking forward to?
Anja: The GEES everyone that is raving about at W2W.
Val: I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to spend 3 days just riding my bike.
Imelda: The GEES that everyone is talking about and just being out in nature on my bike.
Danya: Nature, trails and how the mind and body adapts to consecutive load. Testing mental toughness, getting to the core of my fighting spirit and staying grounded during challenging times.

How has prep going in lead to W2W?
Anja: Uhm… It has been a challenging year for me, but having a goal helps with being committed to training.
Val: I’ve met some really awesome people in prep for W2W. The importance of nutrition and strength.
Imelda: Super consistent but had to get off the bike for 5 weeks due to chest infection.
Danya: Prep was everything. I’ve committed my all. Gotten a coach, worked on resilience as an athlete, faced adversity and gained strength where I knew I was weak. I put my heart and soul into showing up as the best prepped version for my partner and myself.

What are you nervous about?
Anja: The climbs, it’s not my strong point.
Val: Riding in rain, if it rains.
Imelda: Not making the cut off time because I stopped too many times for photos.
Danya: The unknown. And that, I will welcome with grace and open arms. One can never be sure of what to expect on race day.

What are you going to focus on while riding?

Anja: 1, 2, 3, 4… 1,2,3,4 breathe..
Val: The Gees, enjoying the scenery of being surrounded by nature.
Imelda: Keeping the heart rate low and making sure that I am enjoying the ride and not push myself too hard.
Danya: Being present, seeing all the beauty around me, the privilege to be fit and get even fitter, my health and being happy to be alive.

Share something inspiring about your riding partner.

Anja: Val is so patient with me and her positivity is contagious.
Val: Anja is always supportive of everyone around her, on our journey through training I’ve learnt to slow down and be a part of the social aspect of riding, this learning has come from seeing how supportive she is.
Imelda: Danya is a natural athlete and good at everything she does but whenever she trains with someone weaker than her she puts all her energy into making that person feel safe, inspired and well looked after while she pushes your limits.
Danya: There will never be enough goals to keep Imelda satisfied. There’s always another hill, another few kms or a few more minutes to kill. Her fire is wild. And the watts in those legs, even wilder.

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