Ariane and Erik claim stage1 of Cape Pioneer

Thanks to mountain biking, Ischen Stopforth (Bizhub) is turning into a real wildlife expert.

Two weeks ago, during the MTN Ride Crater Cruise, she learned that red hartebeest can run very fast when frightened and yesterday (17 October), during the first stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, the lesson she learned was that first impressions can be misleading.

If you see a branch lying next to a mountain-bike route, it may turn out not to be a branch at all.

Stopforth only realized the truth of this while she was on her way to win the first stage of the women’s DCM Cape Pioneer Trek with Catherine Williamson (Bizhub) yesterday.

She takes up the story.

“We were racing along quite nicely, just trying to stay out of trouble. I saw a branch lying next to the road but I did not take any notice of it until, unexpectedly, the branch began to move.

“Only then did I realize that it was actually a Cape cobra. What’s more, it did not take kindly to us riding through its territory. It attacked me, and even tried to bite me.

“I have also learned that it is possible to accelerate, even when your legs are tired. I think it was pure adrenaline that caused Catherine and me to race those last 5 kilometres so much faster than planned.”

Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (Contego/Giant/Sludge) were the first mixed team to finish.

Their victory was even more special because they had met exactly a year ago at the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek. The meeting developed into a romance that led to their marriage a few months later.

Ariane takes up the story of how they met and fell in love during the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.

“Actually it happened by pure chance. I had lost my water bottle during one of the stages and I was becoming very thirsty,” is how Ariane explained the chance meeting that led to their marriage shortly after the Cape Epic.

“I saw this guy standing next to the road, busy fixing his bike. He gave me some water and soon after the race was over, we met each other again.

“I only found out later that he actually gave me his last few drops of water. So I decided that it was time to pay him back for his gallant gesture and invited him to dinner.

“That was when everything in the romance department started. I went to visit him in Stellenbosch and we just decided that we were meant for each other.”

Womens winner Ischen Stopforth Stage 1 DCM Cape Pioneer Trek 2011