Vera Adrian – loving all types of riding
20 April 2016
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Gerald de Kock: Well, thanks for joining us and thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Biking. Talking all things mountain biking locally and internationally and getting to know the people, places and the trails and races that make this such a popular sport.
Today we’re going to be chatting to another international rider if you like, because she comes from Namibia. She’s a Namibian national road and time trial champion but very strong on a mountain bike as well, Vera Adrian. Vera, thanks for joining us.
Vera Adrian: Thank you, yes.
GDK: Now you’re living down here in the Western Cape, studying at Stellenbosch or did you?
VA: I’m still studying at Stellenbosch University.
GDK: What are you studying?
VA: Management accounting, currently in my final year.
The balance of riding and studying
GDK: Yes, getting that right, studies and racing, is not an easy thing. Clearly you’re a disciplined person.
VA: Yes, it’s not always easy but sometimes it also helps you. Because if you come home and you don’t feel like riding you still have something to come back to and you feel like: Okay, I can study today and it’s fine.
GDK: But you’ve been able to do both obviously very successfully, to combine the two, training and studying. How much time are you spending on the bike and how much time are you spending at lectures and studying?
VA: I think it’s quite equal. I have extended course, only a few subjects. So I don’t have more than three hours of classes of lectures every day. Then it gives me plenty of time of riding and studying. Between the races there are times where I have to study more, study less, yes.
GDK: And you’re obviously travelling quite a bit as well with the races you go to. So I said you were the national road champion, national time trail champion. So there is a potential Olympic games waiting for you as well on the road, not yet, you don’t know yet but that must be an exciting thought.
A chance to go to the Olympic Games
VA: Yes, I was very excited. I think that’s really a dream of every athlete, to go to the Olympic games. But yes, it’s not final yet but I’m praying and training really hard to make it happen.
GDK: Just about mountain biking because in this country and I think perhaps in South Africa there’s quite a lot of cross over, isn’t there? Between road and mountain biking. Do you do a fair amount of mountain biking?
VA: Yes, I enjoy the mountain biking, I especially enjoy the people there but I think you can do both. Especially if you’re good on the mountain bike you will be good on the road bike as well, but both is fun. I’m currently more in a road orientated team but they also support the mountain biking, which is really nice.
GDK: You do have a fairly reasonable coach in your partner, Konny Looser who no doubt has helped you a little bit on some of the mountain biking.
VA: Yes, he definitely helped me and it’s nice that I can always train with him, not always easy but it makes training much easier. If he’s not there he gives me the programme which I try to stick to. I think he definitely has a big deal in my success.
Having all the skills
GDK: Skills is always an area that road bikers go to mountain biking and they go that skills is an area of concern. Is that for you?
VA: No, I’m quite good in the skills. I think I grew up on a mountain bike. I started cycling when I was eight years old so I think that’s kind of in me. I don’t like the jumps and the drops and stuff but the natural stuff all comes easily.
GDK: Tells us about your years growing up in Namibia, whereabouts did you grow up?
VA: I lived in Windhoek my whole life until I was 19 years old. I went to school there and I cycled there all the time. I used to be a swimmer but then stick to the cycling.
GDK: Why cycling?
VA: It’s nice, it’s nice to be outdoors, the people are nice. If you compare it to swimming you’re always just in the pool, you just see the tiles on the floor. Where cycling you get around and the mountains and the places you see. I mean, I’ve been to Italy, just so many countries, even Africa. I think you see much more of the country being on a bike than having to run in a stadium or swim in a pool.
The MTB scene in Namibia
GDK: We know South Africa has got a vibrant mountain bike community here, what’s it like in Namibia?
VA: It’s growing, it’s really nice there, plenty of single trails popping up every week and the riding is amazing. It’s quite tough and technical and Windhoek is high altitude. It’s dry, there’s no routes and there’s no water but it’s completely different to here but also very nice.
GDK: What races have you done here in South Africa that our listeners might be familiar with?
VA: Last year I did the whole Ashburton series or most of the races and sani2c. I actually did Lesotho Sky last year which is not in South Africa but it’s a really nice race to do as well.
GDK: I mean the Ashburton series is a significant series to race and at one stage last year, it goes through phases of being very competitive in the women’s field. Sometimes not very competitive with the international riders that come out. That’s an opportunity to race against some of those Arianna and Annika Langveld and Esther Süss and the like, you can measure yourself.
VA: Yes, that’s really nice. I mean, Arianna came fourth in the World Champs last year so you can really measure yourself nicely against her. With Esther Süss being here beginning of the year at the Meerendal one yes, you can learn so much from them.
Are there enough woman coming through?
GDK: It’s an area in South Africa where there’s perhaps the depth we’ve got some excellent riders at the top level, the likes of Robyn De Groot and the like. But you feel that there’s still room for more riders to come in. How do we get more riders, more women to come into it?
VA: I also ask myself that question. I think many women are scared of the distance, maybe of the time in the saddle, maybe of the technical. But I think they are all doable, they don’t have crazy technical aspects in them. I think the women just have to come out and do it.Sso if they start with four hours, take your time but do it. It’s so much fun and take a friend with, do it together with somebody.
GDK: Is it important to take skills lessons and so on?
VA: Depends, I think it’s never a bad idea depending on how comfortable you are on a bike or not. I don’t think it’s necessary for all of the women but yes, it’s always a good thing to do.
GDK: Let’s forget about 26, 650b, 29er?
The 29er revolution
VA: I’ve never ridden a 650b so I’m a big fan of a 29er.
GDK: And pretty much everyone is. So when you’re moving into the sport as a newcomer straight to the 29?
VA: I think as a woman it depends on how big or how tall you are. If you’re a really short woman, maybe 650b is really an option. But the 29er I’ve never felt or had any problems with it or felt that it’s too big or not responsive. So yes, I think 29 is a good option.
GDK: Living in Stellenbosch you’re not too short of places to go and ride, are you?
VA: Not really no, except that the weather is bad.
GDK: But it hasn’t really been this year, so where in Stellenbosch are your favourite trails?
VA: That’s so difficult. I think Jonkershoek has nice trails, Eden, G-Spot is always cool, there’s so many. I think I don’t even have done all of them.
GDK: And are there enough riders to, you’ve got a fairly good training partner in Konny but amongst the women, do you get in a group and ride the trails at all?
VA: Not so often. I think I’ve really, we had training times because I go between my lectures and between my studying. I do look at the weather, when it’s the best. So I go on my own quite a bit but it’s always nice to have a group, especially on the long rides on weekends. But there are also plenty of guys one can ride with.
GDK: So, you’re finishing your studies, final year now, you’ve obviously ambitions of an Olympic experience this year. Beyond that, have you given it thought?
VA: Yes, but nothing decided yet. It’s really difficult for me to stay in South Africa because I’m on a study visa currently. I probably won’t get a work visa easily so I might go overseas to see something new. Because Namibia, I think, for younger people is not the most exciting place to be.
GDK: And what do you feel you need to do to take the next step as a cyclist?
VA: I don’t know, maybe train harder, but I think enjoying it is the most effective aspect. It just brings you the furthest.
GDK: Well, very good luck with your Olympic ambitions. Once the year is finished will you stay a roadie, will you move to mountain biking?
VA: I have no idea; I’ll see how the year comes out.
GDK: It’s a lovely place to be in this space in your life, I suspect, at the moment.
VA: Yes, I don’t want to swap it with anything else.
GDK: Vera Adrian, thanks very much for talking to us. the Namibian road and time trial champion and also a mountain biker, as you heard of great pedigree as well but has ambitions of Rio in 2016. Good luck with those and thanks for joining us. Thanks for downloading another edition of our Old Mutual Live Mountain Biking. Until next time, cheers.