National downhill mountain bike champion Frankie du Toit says recognising weaknesses can be a great strength as you push to find the milliseconds that can mean the difference between winning and losing.
And, as far as weaknesses go, the 22-year-old Maties student admits that her biggest foe is a lack of confidence on the bike.
“I’m sure I would go so much faster and do so much more if I only backed myself more,” says Du Toit, who feels carrying speed through corners and over big jumps is her real Achilles heel.
“I can carry good speed through rough sections, but I struggle to carry it around corners.”
It is the unpredictability of loose soil and mud that trips her up from time to time but, despite this, she actually enjoys racing after the heavens have opened.
“One of my favourite races was in Scotland, even though it poured the whole day and there were a lot of routes that I struggled to ride.”
Apart from working on her strength and speed, she has incorporated focused skills training to combat the areas that she is struggling with.
“I also purposely ride in conditions that I find challenging to help me improve.”
Even though she is the national downhill champion, she focuses on enduros as she does not always feel brave enough to race on some of the overseas tracks.
“I also feel better suited to enduros because of my strengths and weaknesses,” she says, explaining that the technical skills required for the discipline are slightly less important than in pure downhill racing.
“You can make up for it with strength and speed, whereas downhill is all about your skills.”
Away from racing, Du Toit, who has also amassed titles in XCO, marathon, enduro and road racing, has recently taken on a leadership role as chairman of the Maties Cycling Club.
“The club has done a lot for me and I enjoy being involved and so I decided to apply for this position this year. What I love about it is that I get to interact with other riders and help out the first-year students.”
She says they had “some really cool projects” in the pipeline until the coronavirus put an end to it.
From a study perspective, the sports sciences student has had to transition to online studies and exams in her final semester due to the current situation.
“It’s been a challenge, but I feel like I’ve come out of lockdown with a more focused view of what I want in all facets of my life and how to get there.”
Apart from the obvious challenges, she used the extra time to train and feels “fairly fit and strong”.
“I started with a new coach going into lockdown and he helped me find creative ways to keep fit.”
She stays motivated by focusing on what is in front of her instead of trying to plan too far ahead.
“I just got on with what I could do and acknowledged that the rest was out of my hands.”