Olympian De Groot making a big impact in her new field | SASCOC - SASCOC

Olympian De Groot making a big impact in her new field

While it should be no surprise that Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) is leading the MTN Marathon series for women after the first three races, it comes as quite a surprise that the novice in mountain biking, Olympian Robyn de Groot (Need Sponsor), is placed second overall.

De Groot only began to compete seriously in mountain-bike events in January 2013. In 2012 she still represented South Africa at the Olympic Games in London as a road cyclist.

Amazingly she finished in the top three in each of the MTN Marathon races. In Barberton she was second and in both Sabie and Tulbagh she was third.

She will miss the MTN Clarens event because she is competing in the Joburg2C tour, but she will definitely be racing in Wellington on 11 May.

De Groot admits that, being a rookie, she did not expect to do so well, not even in her wildest dreams. ÔÇ£To be perfectly honest, I did not even plan to compete actively in mountain bike races.

ÔÇ£I bought a mountain bike when I came back from Europe last year, purely for the sake of having something new, like a breath of fresh air, and to keep fit and enjoy my riding. I think that the secret of my success is due to a combination of factors.

ÔÇ£These probably include my general fitness, which was carried over from being a professional road cyclist during the past couple of years, as well as the desire to enjoy myself and my passion for riding my bicycle.

ÔÇ£And lastly, my competitive nature compels me to always do my best at anything that I had begun and I just love to be outdoors in nature.ÔÇØ

According to De Groot she decided to switch to knobby tyres and dirt roads while she was in Europe last year. ÔÇ£I had many quiet, lonely moments while I was in Europe last year, and I spent many hours reflecting on where I should go from here.

ÔÇ£I guess I was resetting my goals, on the bike as well as in my life. That was when I knew for sure that I had achieved what I wanted to achieve on the road, locally and internationally.┬á I just knew that the right thing for me to do was to try something new.

ÔÇ£In fact, it was in Europe last year that I committed myself to do the Joburg2c with my dad. That was why I bought my mountain bike.ÔÇØ

De Groot has no regrets as a road cyclist. ÔÇ£Every time I had represented South Africa was a great privilege for me.┬á Those have been my proudest moments.

ÔÇ£I represented South Africa from 2005-2012. My most gratifying selections for the national road team were: World Championships in Italy, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands; Commonwealth Games in Delhi India 2010, and then the Olympic Games in London last year.

ÔÇ£Other highlights were the people and friends I had made along the road of pursuing my dreams. I have many happy memories and friends whom I will cherish all my life.┬á Very often it is the difficulties that were thrown at us during our cycling travels abroad that we remember best.┬á They become the cherished moments that always remain with us.ÔÇØ

Every mountain biker has at least one story to tell about going down hard in a crash. ÔÇ£So far so good, no bad crashes for me in mountain biking yet.

ÔÇ£My worst crashes were on the road and they all happened within the space of one year. The worst crash in which I was involved was the Argus sprint finish ‘stampede’ crash in 2012.

ÔÇ£At another time a wheel disintegrated from underneath me at the World Championships. It will be true to say that I spent a fair bit of time rolling round on the tar last season.ÔÇØ

De Groot started working full time in January this year as a biokineticist at Samantha Dunbar physiotherapy. ÔÇ£I had not worked full time for many years. Within two weeks, I began to miss riding my bike and having the freedom I was used to.

ÔÇ£I spoke to my boss, who was very understanding, and we adapted my working hours so that I am able to have adequate time for training. I now work six hours a day, which gives me enough time to ride, and I enjoy the balance.ÔÇØ