Louw won the women’s category by six and a half minutes last year and hopes to do well again this weekend.
“I don’t know yet which women are taking part,” she said today. “But I really want to try keeping up with the men at the front.
“I hope there are some big-name women too, so that I can assess the results of my hard work during the festive season.”
Louw said she would probably have to approach the Fast One differently to most other mountain-bike races.
“There’s not a lot of climbing, which is my strength,” she said. “The race is very fast, so I will have to stay hydrated.
“I’m comfortable riding hard, but mentally I will have to stay focused and positive.”
Although she has an idea of the likely race conditions, Louw, who rides for Team Bestmed, said cyclists never really knew what to expect.
“Routes usually change, so I think there could be a bit more single track along the first part this year. It may then become flat and drag along.
“I’m also not sure when we will approach climbs. We’ll have to see,” said Louw, who turns 20 next week.
“The Fast One will be a good way to start to 2018,” Louw said. “There’s never a dull moment in the Fast One, and I’m positive about what’s to come. I have become a lot stronger, mentally and physically.”
Pierre Smith hopes to rectify a previous mistake to finish on the overall podium in the men’s Fast One this weekend.