The 22-year-old, who will ride for the elite jersey in Pretoria on Saturday, said the accomplishment opened a lot of doors for her.
“I was able to talk to people I wasn’t able to talk to before and I could show them I was present in the cycling community and that I can ride a bike.”
She also felt she received more respect from fellow riders in the bunch.
“While I was racing in Europe the girls would give you the wheel in front and wouldn’t push you off it as much. The spectators and fans also respect you a lot more.
“People want to take your photo because you’re in the national kit, so it’s almost like you go from being no one to being treated as if you’re super famous. It’s really cool.”
Colyn said it was a huge honour and a special feeling to wear the South African stripes across her chest.
“You always want to win a race regardless of whether you have the stripes on your back. I go into any race with a clear mind and focus on trying to win.
“I perform pretty well under pressure so when there was a little bit extra pressure from wearing the jersey I always found I performed a lot better.”
She added that it was still important for her to remain respectful and true to herself.
“If you’re a world, national or just any type of champ you have to remain humble because when the jersey is gone it all depends on who is left behind and who is there for you.
“Personally, I’m still the same person. I believe you have to work hard every day and nothing is simply handed to you.
“Career-wise, it has made people more aware of who I am in the worldwide community whereas before I was just another one in the bunch.”
Apart from winning the U23 national title her highlights included achieving podium places in Belgium, finishing in the top 10 in an Irish tour and qualifying for the top 10 with the Zwift Academy.
“Looking back, I grew so much as a rider and became comfortable racing at UCI level.”
Colyn added that with every high there was always a low, such as the crash she suffered in Europe.
“I crashed during the first tour I did in the Czech Republic and damaged my left hip. So for a couple of weeks I couldn’t train properly or do anything more than what my body was allowing me to do, and it was difficult.
“When I finally started getting the ball rolling and doing races again I wouldn’t perform the way I knew I could. On top of that there is a lot of pressure on South Africans to race in Europe as we only have three months to show what we have.”
She said it felt like she was wasting her time due to the injury and only having such a limited amount of time to compete in Europe.
“A lot of stress latched onto that. As a professional athlete you need to be able to tell yourself this is a hard time, but you’re going to get through it and that’s where mental strength comes in.
“There will always be a race where you think you could have done better but you just weren’t able to.”
Colyn will ride as an elite rider for the first time this year as she gears up for this weekend’s 136km race.
“I’m pretty sure everyone who lines up is going for that national jersey, so that is my goal for sure, to win or get second place.”
For the rest of the season she will mainly be based in Paarl, Western Cape.
“My goals will be to win as many races in SA as possible and to podium at the national and African champs. I will also work on qualifying for the Olympic Games next season and do the Zwift Academy.
“I’ve also received the opportunity to do some guest rides in Europe.”