11 Aug, 2016

Swapping Boots for Cleats

Continuing our regular Q&A with cycling personalities, we chat to SA Rugby Legend Victor Matfield. Known for his achievements on the rugby field, but recently retired from the game, he is now a keen cyclist and spends his off days with mates and his bike.
MC: Who taught you to ride a bike?
VM: Probably my parents.
MC: What is your favourite cycling memory growing up?
VM: Just being with my mates riding around. We used to think we were like ‘Trompie en die Boksombende.’
MC: What motivated you to move from rugby to cycling?
VM: I like to stay fit and healthy, and cycling was a good fit. It is almost like golf for me – it’s not just about cycling, but more about being out with mates and having a great time.
MC: Tell us about your biggest cycling achievement.
VM: Probably doing the Barberton Ultra Marathon. I had only been cycling for about three months when I decided to take the race on and everyone said I was crazy, but I thought why not, I love a challenge. The day before the race I got a cold and my wife really wanted me to just do the normal marathon, but I had already committed. I’ve done a few three-day races as well, but those nine hours in Barberton were pretty tough!
MC: Which race is your absolute favourite?
VM: I must say I loved Wine2Whales. It is in such a pretty part of our country, and the hospitality after every day’s riding is pretty amazing.
MC: Who is Victor when he is not cycling?
VM: At the moment I am juggling between being a dad and making my mark in the business world. I’ve joined Wildswinkel, probably the biggest seller of Game in the country, and we do most of the big game auctions.
MC: Who is your favourite person to ride with?
VM: A bunch of us who live in Silverlakes ride together. Jac-Louis is the leader – a serious rider who won a lot of pro races as a youngster – and Herman is the joker in the group. Then there is De Buys, the worst rider in the group, even though he trains the hardest. It’s his dream to drop me in a race, but that still hasn’t happened. The rest of the group is De Buys’ wife, Ronel, and my wife, Monja. They are both strong riders and always do well in their respective categories in races, but it’s probably because they’ve got De Buys as a domestique, working for them. At least, that’s what he tells everyone…
MC: When you have those tough moments on the bike, what gets you through?
VM: I’ve hit that dark place twice before, once at Wine2whales on day one and once at Van Gaalens. It’s not a nice place to be, but giving up is not an option. If I can just get to the next water or feeding station, I am alright. I love the food at cycling races... I think I picked up 2kg at my first Sani2C!
MC: Your favourite trails to ride?
VM: Probably Elandsberg, where the Rooiberg race is. Herman has a lodge there, and it’s great to go there for a few days and just get on the bike with my wife and do all the great single track on the farm. Pretty often we ride right next to giraffe and buffalo.
MC: What to date has been your most embarrassing technical blunder?
VM: The second race I did we finished with a downhill, so after the race we had a quick Coke and when we wanted to ride back to the cars, I clicked into my cleat, but when I started pedalling the gear was too big and I couldn’t unclip, and in front of everyone I went down, to everyone’s amusement.
MC: One thing nobody knows about you?
VM: I won the maths book prize at my high school in Matric for the pupil with the highest mark in maths.
MC: In terms of cycling races, what’s still on the bucket list?
VM: There are so many, but the one that stands out must be the Absa Cape Epic!
MC: What is worse? Taking a hit in the ruck or falling off your bike?
VM: I haven’t gone down too hard in a fall, so up to now rugby is still a bit more painful.
MC: Have you bought into the belief that cyclists should shave their legs?
VM: Not really. I finish between amongst the ‘wol bene,’ so my legs need to be ‘wolle’ as well.
MC: Any advice for those who have just started riding?
VM: Make sure you get a nice group of mates to ride with you, because when you need to get up at 5am on a winter’s morning and it’s around three degrees, then it’s only the banter of the group that will make sure you get out there.
MC: What is your favourite Quote?
VM: “Kampioene oefen as die ander rus”