Während unserer Trailsafari in Südafrika haben wir viele spannende Persönlichkeiten, die in der Bike Branche aktiv sind, kennengelernt. Joanna Dobinson ist eine davon. Die quirlige Südafrikanerin wurde durch unseren Instagram Takeover vom Bikehubber Account aufmerksam und bot uns an ihre Lieblings-Trails vor ihrer Haustür in Stellenbosch zu zeigen. Gesagt getan, denn wer könnte uns diese Trails zeigen als sie? So viel vorweg: Es war einer der besten und lustigsten Tage, die wir in Südafrika erlebt haben. „Jo“ ist eine sehr coole und bereichernde Person, hat jede Menge Tipps auf Lager wenn es um das Thema Biken geht und noch mehr Geschichten zu erzählen. Rundum ein perfekter Tag. Wir möchten euch Joanna nicht vorenthalten und haben ihr daher im Nachgang noch ein paar Fragen gestellt, die wir hier zusammengefasst haben. Viel Spass beim Lesen!
Interview Joanna Dobinson
Hi Joanna, please tell our readers who you are and what you do?
I’m Joanna Dobinson born and bred in sunny South Africa! I grew up in a small town in the Natal Midlands close to Durban called Howick. I have always been a sporty girl who was far more interested in running around the sports field or shredding down a mountain bike trail than chasing after boys ha ha! I represented my province for athletics and hockey every year whilst growing up.
Then I went on to race mountain bikes for South Africa. Getting to a world cup level for XC racing was exciting but instead of pursuing a career as a pro mountain biker, I moved down to Stellenbosch and completed my sports science degree. The sponsorship pressure at such a high level of racing just got into my head, and I preferred to keep riding on a social level after that. Stellenbosch is a very active town, and was the perfect environment to settle down in and to purse a career in sport.
How did you get into MTB and what keeps you going?
I’ll never forget that day. My brother was about 18 and I was 16. He took me for a seriously technical ride in Howick and I just loved it! He landed up laughing at me whilst I was crying upside down pinned against the trunk of a tree! I was actually quite hurt but the mountain bike bug bit me hard that day and now, 21 years later I’m still blazing the trails! My brother and I raced at top level for our province and had many adventures racing for the same teams together. At the end of the day we both decided to hang up our wheels as racing snakes and actually got into the mountain biking industry vocation wise. We are now both skills coaches for our own separate companies and we love to promote the lifestyle of trail riding, which is very different to the racing scene that we grew up in! I am still riding cause I believe in the sport. It is holistic for me – body, soul and spirit!
I love the community around mountain biking, being fit and healthy, the beautiful places it takes me to, and the incredible opportunities that arise from doing what I do on the bike!
Tell us about your business „Biking in the Bosch“?
I created Biking In The Bosch 4 years ago. I noticed that there was a growing need to skill riders up on the trails. They are becoming increasingly technical as the years go on. Mountain biking is huge in South Africa! People just love riding our fun trails here, but I noticed how few knew how to ride safely and efficiently down the trails. So I decided to help them. I created Biking In The Bosch as kind of a ’ski school‘ just without the snow. I live very close to one of the trail heads, train my client on a ‚green slope‘ close by and then take them out onto the local trails after that where they have to apply their newly acquired skills.
Would you go snowboarding or skiing without going to ski school? Well mountain biking is just as, if not more extreme than those alpine sports and the technical trails demand a lot of skill and know how! I guarantee you that just a few hours you will be a lot more stable, significantly faster and much more confident on the bike. It is all about bike control and body awareness. The moment you understand what you should be doing and feel why you should be doing that, you can start flowing on the bike and become ‘one’ with your steed! I really do believe I have a dream job!
Tell us about your partnership with Specialized?
Specialized asked me to partner with them 4 years ago. They know the importance of skilling up and they really believe in what I am doing. The ladies market is growing immensely in SA and I have a great synergy with the company. Lots of clients I train are in need of a bike. I advise them accordingly and organize a test ride for them through a Specialized dealer close by. It is a great partnership as the shop looks after me and I look after them by promoting them on all my social media platforms and I send my clients to them for everything. Helderberg Cycle World is a one stop shop – where you can get everything done under one roof! Specialized – Stellenbosch, is our flagship store and is also a beautiful store to visit when you are in town! Specialized helps me as they support my travels around the country and provide me with bikes, kit and servicing.
Who are your clients?
I teach ladies and men on a daily basis in Stellenbosch. The sport is the fastest growing sport in South Africa, so the beginner market is at for most of the time. That being said, I also train Ariane Lüthi (Kleinhans) – 5 times Cape Epic Champion and 2 times reigning Swiss marathon Champion. I also train Jennie Stenerhag – 2016 Swedish marathon champion. I have also just trained Marianne Vos and Ellen Van Djik off road, for the second consecutive year. They love coming here for training camps and I have such fun with that super strong team! They find that cross training day incredibly fun and a wonderful change! If pro’s need training, and I need training, how much more does the average rider need it? Skills training is incredibly rewarding for both my clients and me, I love taking the fear out and injection fun into my client’s rides!
How would you describe mountainbiking in South Africa?
South Africa has an extremely strong marathon and stage racing culture. The hilly terrain lends itself to this form of racing. So lycra and fast marathon bikes are best sellers! We don’t have any ski lifts or gondolas, except for Table Mountain, so when you come here expect to climb and pedal a lot! There are hundreds of races nation wide every week – we are really spoilt for choice! We have really strong South African riders who race overseas regularly and this inspires the mountain biking culture here. We have a lot of televised rides what makes it really easy to follow the pro’s.
Many world champions come to train in Stellenbosch cause of the climate, fantastic trails and cheap, healthy food and fabulous gyms, pools and post race/training facilities. The majority of the riders are obviously weekend warriors who are extremely passionate about their sport and actually take it pretty seriously and spend a lot of time and money on it! We are a pretty competitive nation. The general finding is that riders are really fit but most really need to skill up! My general finding is that European and riders from the States are better technically cause they are more exposed to riding parks and gradient. Our trails are super fun though and pretty technical in their own way, trail features like rock wall rides, drops and small jumps are everywhere on our trials.
Trail riding is on the rise, and I am a huge ambassador of this form of riding. One of my hashtags is #NoBaggiesNoRide. You may think this is funny but hardly anyone wears trail gear like baggies and there are very few riders on flat pedals. Enduro racing is on the rise and we have some gnarly enduro races! Check out my brothers Ezels Enduro online – it’s manic!
When we went riding with you, you were on a 6Fattie S-Works Stumpjumper, what’s your take on plus size tires, especially in South Africa?
The oversize wheels I believe is really going to take the mountain biking world by storm! I found the 6Fattie S-Works Stumpy the fastest bike I have every ridden on super rocky descents! I found it climbed really well too, but you do obviously work harder on flats and uphills compared to the 29er version. Specialized is working on a 2,6 inch tire. I reckon this will be just right on most trail bikes and will handle incredibly well on technical rocky and rooty terrain. There are two schools of thought with the oversized tires. Firstly people are saying they are really good for beginners. Yes, this is true due to the increased stability that will add confidence to their ride. On the other hand I have many top trail riders who just love their 6Fatties and absolutely shred on them!
The best thing to do would be to go into a dealer and ask for a test ride and you decide for yourself! I do think they will take off in South Africa’s trail riding scene – but the 2,6 inch I believe will be the tire width to watch in the future!
5 Quick Questions
Eden and Mont Marie, where these shots are taken is my latest favorite! The combination of loose swooping corners in Eden combined with the small jumps and berms and drops in Mont Marie, make for such a fun workout, that will keep you smiling for days!
Favorite place to ride?
Jonkershoek valley- as it steep climbs make you work for every fun technical decent! The mountain views never get old!
Favorite Coffee Shop?
Ride In Café, serves a mean double flat white! They fully support us riders with mechanical support, showers and bike wash, too! Their scrambled egg on a bagel with truffle infused mushrooms is the perfect post ride breakfast!
Did I hear you say Thai Green Curry?!
Most inspiring rider/role model?
Jolanda Neff! I have never seen a lady decent on a XC bike like her and then totally kick ass on the climbs! Seriously she is so brave and willing to go full risks. It seems to not work in her favor a lot as she has had lots of injuries of late, but she is young and is still learning and I can’t wait to see what she produces in the future!
What is not to be missed as a visiting mtb rider in South Africa?
You must visit Stellenbosch! Then come to my wine-lands experience! This package consists of one 2-hour skills session, lunch at a quaint street cafe, a 2 hour ride in the afternoon to apply the skills that you learnt in the morning and then you top it all off with wine and chocolate pairing on a glorious wine farm by bike! Costs: R2500 per person or R1900 per person if there are more than two of you.
- G-Spot Trail Stellenbosch into Eden and Mont Marie
- Dirtopia trail center
Eating in Stellenbosch:
- Ride In Cafe
- Oppie Dorp
- Basic Bistro
- The Lazerac
- Blue Crane and the Butterfly
- Java cafe
- Root 44 Market
- Blauklippen Market
Tourism in Cape Town:
- Big Red bus
- Eat fresh fish at Kalkies at Kalk Bay
- Have sundowners at The 12 Apostles Hotel
- Visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach
- Start clear of the baboons at Cape Point!
- Eat Sushi overlooking the harbour at the Waterfront
- Enjoy famous bands at Kirstenbosch Sunset Concerts
Thank you so much Jo! All the best and see you soon.