It is a chilly Sunday morning in the beginning of July – almost 06h30 and just on 4-degree Celcius at Meerendal Wine Estate, when riders line-up for their first day’s challenge in the annual CA2CX MTB Tour.
Amongst the group of 35 riders is 12-year old Emily accompanied by her father Bryan Rodgers, ready to embark on a MTB journey from Cape Town to Knysna.
The 6-day CA2CX MTB Tour took Emily and the other riders from Meerendal via Worcester, Montagu, through the Klein Karoo towns of Ladismith, Van Wyksdorp, over the Rooiberg Pass near Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, down the Montagu Pass to George, and then travelling over 8 passes to finish in Knysna in time for the Oyster Festival.
Every stage of this tour was challenging in different ways, especially for group 3 in which Emily and Bryan were cycling.
Most of the riders have not done such a touch MTB challenge like the CA2CX before. This challenge requires a great deal of mental and physical toughness that usually develops over time as people get older, and Emily had to put that degree of toughness to the test.
A normal day in this group of cyclists varied between 7 to 10 hours on the road averaging a speed of between 14-18km/h. Anybody that has spent that much time in the saddle will tell you that it is taxing on your body.
Emily has completed most extreme rides around the Western Cape and her target before the CA2CX MTB Tour was to ride 70Km per day. During the tour she completed 122km in a single day.
What an accomplishment for a 12-year old to successfully complete 625km in six days. Emily never moaned and only smiled and enjoyed the time on her bike.
“When looking back Emily did not only exhibit the required toughness, she could not wait to get back on her bike in the mornings. Despite the suffering, I cannot recall ever seeing her without a smile on her face.”
“Notwithstanding having one of the heaviest bikes in the group, Emily was always towards the front of the group, following her father’s wheel. On a tour like this, every person goes through ups and downs.”
Even when she was struggling, Emily had a smile on her face and just slogged through the tough times,” says Marius du Preez, Team Captain of Group 3.
In today’s high-tech environment, it is difficult to find a teenager that would rather endure the hardship of riding a mountain bike for 8 – 10 hours a day with her father, than to sit in front of the TV or engage on social media the entire day.
With her positive attitude and infectious smile, it did not take long for this young lady to creep into the hearts of each and every team member.
“I look forward to riding with her again next year. She is an exceptional person and a pleasure to be around,” Marius concludes.
“When Emily was about four she started cycling on her push bike around the dam at Contermanskloof. She never had training wheels and enjoyed riding around with her older sister. After many bike upgrades as she grew older she has now finally got her 29er.”
“What makes Emily different is how humble she is, yet totally focused on her goals. As a father, I have never pushed her at all.”
She makes up her own mind whether she enjoys something or not. Luckily for me she loves cycling!” says Bryan.
Emily, you are a champion, well done!
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