stage 3 - Three's a charm
Remofilwe Moeketsi and Thabo Mamatshele are racing towards the Amabubesi Finisher Club.
Four years ago, the reality was that very few black women raced the Absa Cape Epic. But that is changing. In 2023, Remofilwe Moeketsi will join the hallowed Amabubesi three-time finishers club. Smashing stereotypes one Untamed kilometre at a time.
“My why has not changed. Since I started riding in 2018 the Absa Cape Epic got onto my bucket list. I love stretching my physical and mental abilities and showing that we are here as black females. Yes, our generation is getting onto the wagon a bit late but for future black stars to know that now it is possible is very important to me. I want to inspire that one day having black people on podiums will be a norm.”
For now, Moeketsi’s focus has a new and much more personal angle; membership of the Absa Cape Epic’s Amabubesi club, which recognises three-time finishers of The Untamed African Mountain Bike Race with special merchandise and metalware, and the kudos of the very best in the world. The late Burry Stander is quoted as saying “If a guy comes to me and says he he’s done an Absa Cape Epic, or two or three, he’s immediately part of the club. That guy is a real mountain biker. You know there’s so much behind that statement. It’s the race that measures all.”
Does the added reward of this third finish increase the pressure in an already-stressful environment? “It definitely does, I think. Before this one I was definitely more anxious [giggles] because I have seen in the last two what is coming, and there is now this extra thing. You know, you can never actually say you’ve done the Absa Cape Epic before, and relax a bit, because the route changes every year and so do its challenges. It becomes unpredictable, all the time.”
“But with a supportive partner, it is achievable. The team aspect is so important, it allows you to support and encourage each other. You end up in some dark, dark places.” Moeketsi is firmly on track to become an Amabubesi - it means ‘pride of lions’ in Zulu - with her Toyota Mixed category partner Thabo Mamatshele (who will also join the club this year).
“But that is pressure I am putting on myself. I am more cautious. When we get to a thing where it needs some caution, where there might be some risk, I am like ‘mmm…mm, no! We must do this carefully’. It’s like I am guarding that Amabubesi now.”
“The only thing that is different about this year, in my preparation, was that it has given me a chance to reconnect with my old high school teacher, Mrs Meyer from Kimberly Girls. After 21 years, we have made contact again and she is my number one cheerleader here.”
“It feels exciting and humbling at the same time, such a special feeling. When I think from when I started, my first one in 2021, I have come such a long way as a mountain biker. I really hope my Amabubesi can help me show others what is possible, what they can also be capable of.”