Beauty and Remofilwe are on a mission to finish the Absa Cape Epic and to inspire women of colour to get onto bikes
Many of the riders at the Absa Cape Epic are lifetime-enthusiast cyclists. Team Stadio, less so. Beauty Ngobese and Remofilwe Moeketsi are tackling the 2021 event under the banner of Stadio, who has offered the winners of the Exxaro Special jersey race access to any of their distance higher learning qualifications, from higher certificates and diplomas to degrees and postgraduate qualifications.
Joburg resident, but originally from Newcastle, KZN, Beauty has been riding bikes for just four years, after an introductory ride in Soweto on an urban fixie had her hooked. Two years later, she finished the 2019 Absa Cape Epic, in the Virgin Active Mixed category. “It was really life-changing for me. I found a new level of appreciation for the sport and fellow riders.” For 2019, Beauty set her sights on being part of the first black female team to complete the race that has been called the Tour de France of mountain biking.
In Remofilwe Moeketsi, she found an equally-novice (in stage-racing terms) partner who shared many of the same goals going into the event. Originally from Pampierstad in the Northern Cape, IT professional Remofilwe’s first ride was with Joburg club Proud Beginners, in 2018; 60km on a wholly-inappropriate mountain bike, on the road… so the unknown extremes of the Absa Cape Epic won’t be her first rodeo with testing herself.
It was really life-changing for me. I found a new level of appreciation for the sport and fellow riders
"Since I started riding in 2018 it got onto my bucket list. I love stretching my physical and mental abilities. And to show 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. It is to inspire that one day having black people on podiums will be a norm.”
The pair is leaning heavily on Beauty’s 2019 experience; “I rode for Exxaro, with a stronger partner. I only knew I was doing the Absa Cape Epic a month before, so I wasn’t 100% prepared. But I learned to be a bit more thoughtful towards my partner in races, which is helping us now.” The pair had a bit more warning this time, with the go-ahead on the team entry and higher education provider Stadio sponsorship coming in July. We rode 10–14-hour weeks and spent a lot of time working on our skills and technique.”
How do Beauty and Remofilwe measure their success coming out of what will undoubtedly be a 2021 Absa Cape Epic finish? “Obviously, finishing is the first goal,” says Beauty. “But obviously we want more than that. The relationships and networking in the event are already making a difference. We are already seeing lots of supporters contacting us on social media, wishing us luck, but we need to turn that into inspiring women (of all ages) to cycle.”
Remofilwe takes a slightly harder line. “ We are grouped in the Exxaro Special jersey race, with the men and one other female team [Team Exxaro/Pepto’s Andisiwe Skeyi and Refilwe Mogorosi]. I want us to get to a point where we have enough women of colour entering to make that a separate category, with our own jersey. That will inspire even more women to race.”