A change of scenery is on the cards for Rio Olympian An-Li Kachelhoffer when she tackles the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain bike race in the Boland from Friday.
The former national road champion will partner with TransCape winner Pieter Seyffert, who won alongside Travis Walker, and together the pair will combine experience and enthusiasm to form a formidable duo.
The Bestmed-ASG star admitted feeling as though she lacked a few of the necessary technical “qualifications” for the Winelands Encounter and anticipated a demanding race.
“Although I enjoy riding my mountain bike, I know that I’m behind when it comes to technical knowledge. I would say that I have a grade one qualification and you really need a matric,” she joked.
The 29-year-old took comfort from the fact that she would have the experienced Seyffert at her side.
“It was a spontaneous decision to take part and I’ve warned Pieter that I ended up on my face the last time I raced a mountain bike.
“He knows not to put too much pressure on me, but he’s a chilled, fun guy so I know he’ll be there to guide me and help me enjoy the experience.”
Kachelhoffer, who took silver at the SA National Road Championships in February, felt some new direction may be a positive change.
“I thought it would be good to tick something different off the list this year,” she said.
This year’s Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, winds though 160km of breathtaking Winelands terrain, including Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Wellington and Kachelhoffer’s new home town – Paarl.
“After only getting on my mountain bike again recently, riding around the Paarl area, I couldn’t help but realise what I’ve been missing out on.
“The scenery is just spectacular,” said Kachelhoffer, who felt change was as good as a holiday.
“I think this will be a fun balance of enjoyment and scenery and I’m looking forward to trying something different.
“At the end of the day you need to have fun on your bike and, whichever way you fuel your passion, that’s what you should be doing, regardless of what shape or form that may come in.”
Kachelhoffer said she would resume her road racing schedule at the Tour Durban at the end of the month.