From surgery to the world champs with Robyn de Groot

Team dormakaba cyclist Robyn de Groot is a hot prospect ahead of Discovery 947 Ride Joburg MTB Race this year! She placed third in the elite women's race at the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships last month, bagging her a bronze medal and followed that performance with a win in the women's category of Wine2Whales.

Ahead of this incredible achievement, Robyn had a whirlwind of year that almost had her hang up her mountain bike for good. But after successful surgery in Holland, she came back with a bang and is absolutely unstoppable. She chats to Jenni Green over coffee in George, where she is based.

To retire or have surgery?

I had a burning sensation down my leg, from my glute down to the hamstring and my calf and it became very painful. I had been running around trying to get a diagnosis for two years and lost a lot of time, it was really a frustrating period and very tough physically, mentally and psychologically too. By this time last year, I was ready to hang up my bike if I wasn’t going to have my surgery.

Robyn de Groot

Landing up at the world champs

Having missed out on the first half of the year, with the recovery and all my coach and I decided let’s have a goal and we made it the world champs, go big or go home. It came together perfectly. I found a good balance between life and cycling. By not having pain and this injury I’ve just enjoyed my cycling so much more. My coach did really well researching the rehab and put in a lot of work to get me back up.

Robyn de Groot

Getting signed without knowing what the future holds

People questioned whether I would make it back, I didn’t. The fact that I had sponsors step and sign me before I made it back, shows that they had faith in me.

Robyn de Groot

Transitioning from road cycling to mountain bike

I remember my first rides being very technical. I was stressed and scared of falling. However, you need to remember that you are in a safe environment you just need to know your limits. Join groups of more experienced riders who are willing to give you advice. Lots of women are giving skills clinics on a regular. Go out and find one in your area. If you fall, you get up and try again. Go out and enjoy it, see it as a challenge.

Robyn de Groot

What does your typical training day look like?

I used to be one of those people who rose with the sunrise and tried to be back before midday. Over this past year, I have realized the importance of sleep. It really makes a positive difference. So I get up and train, and then clean my equipment if it's dirty. Afternoons I allocate to admin and gym work. Sometimes a second training session depending on where we at. Other days massages and stretching and core. That’s important

Robyn de Groot

And nutrition?

I make decisions based on what food makes my body feel good. I have learned to be loose in this regard, it creates less stress. I also make sure I eat as natural as possible

Where is our pool of youngsters coming from?

There’s definitely a shortage of young girls coming into the sports. The Spur Mountain bike league is a fantastic initiative. They play a major role for the youngsters. Our federation could do far more. We need to look at how the golf federation does it and adopt their model to get more young people to get in the sport and compete on an international level

Robyn de Groot

Pearls of wisdom

Check your tyre pressure. Joburg can be loose and sandy. Keep moving forward, whether you are pedaling or walking. If you going to tackle a technical section, tackle it confidently with good speed and trust the bike. And finally, it's your race, do it at your own pace and enjoy it.

Robyn de Groot

Listen to the full conversation below

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