Buffet Olives MTB Classic, 23 October
Paarl, South Africa
Ariane: 1st place
After a successful racing stint in Switzerland, most recently placing second overall at the seven-day Swiss Epic, Ariane is back on African soil. The Buffet Olives MTB Classic, a 42km race in Paarl, saw her return to winning ways.
The relatively short route took riders through singletrack before tackling the slopes of the Klein Drakenstein. It was a small field of competitive women, with Ariane’s greatest challenge coming from Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Lombardi.
With the small field size, Ariane was able to extend a gap between herself and her chasers right from the start. She managed to increase her buffer as they made their way through the single track sections. As riders made their way to the climbs, Ariane noticed her gap back to Carmen dwindling. “I saw Carmen closing the gap, she’s quite a strong climber, super skinny and light so I had to push a little bit harder there to ensure I maintained as much of my gap as possible” reflected Ariane
Reaching the summit with a slightly reduced gap, Ariane tackled the descent with aggression so as to cement her lead. This paid off as Ariane was able to cross the line in 1st place, 3 minutes 32 ahead of Carmen and 14:46 ahead of Michelle. Despite coming away with a win, the day was less about the racing and more about the activation with Anna Foundation for Ariane.
The Anna Foundation aims to assist disadvantaged schools and communities by providing academic, social and environmental support in order to aid in the developmental process. One of the communities which the Anna Foundation work with, is that of the farm workers from the Buffet Olive Farm which hosts the mountain bike race.
With a newly built pump track at the Buffet Olives farm, Ariane was asked if she could assist the Anna Foundation in developing the cycling skills of the young girls involved in the programme. After seeing the lack of confidence and abilities in most of the girls on the track, Ariane took the girls through a basic skills clinic. Assisting them in learning the basics of braking, cornering and bike handling, Ariane was impressed with the rapid improvements in their confidence and abilities. “It was very good to see that they were immediately able to put their new found skills to work and eventually ride the track.” said Ariane “It was amazing to see how quickly they improved, and very rewarding to see how much fun and how much confidence they gained from the short skills session.”