Following her recent win at the Swartberg 100, SA’s first UCI Gravel event and a podium finish at Race to the Sun amongst a field of strong competitors, Cath has proven herself as force to be reckoned with on the local racing circuit and she recently received a golden ticket to the Life Time Grand Prix Series where she aims to mix it up with the best in the international field. We are proud to support Cath in this grand new adventure.
Let me first introduce myself, Hi my name is Catherine Colyn and I am a Professional Cyclist. This year I have been selected to be a part of only 35 other professional female-cyclist to race in the Life Time Grand Prix series in the United States of America. What is the Life Time Grand Prix you might be asking? This series is the biggest off-road racing series in the USA and consists of 7 races which are a variation between gravel and mountain bike races. They only take your top 5 results, tally up your points and will then place you on a ranking system for the entire series.
How did I get into this select group of riders for this series you might ask?
I had to apply, everyone had to apply. As fate may have it, I was scrolling through Instagram quite early in the morning and then saw that one of the athletes posted on their stories that they had applied to be a part of the Life Time Grand Prix series. I followed the link and thought, “Oh what the hell, let's give it a go!”. Luckily with the time difference, I made the cut-off with 3 hours to spare. A couple of weeks later, I got an email informing me that I had been selected to be a part of the series.
It’s quite an interesting story as to how I ended up racing on the gravel bike. To take it back to where it all started, I remember it quite vividly. It was the morning when the Double Century was cancelled, due to the heavy rainfall in 2021. I was scrolling through social media and saw that Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio posted on her social media channels that they were running a couple of races on Zwift and if you were to perform well then you stood a chance to be a part of her professional e-racing team which is now known as Rocacorba Collective. I jumped on the opportunity, did the races, and was lucky enough to be selected.
Specialized sponsored the team with bikes that they felt suited the riders best and as luck would have it, I was paired with a gravel bike - the rest is history. I did as many gravel races as possible in 2022 and I absolutely fell in love with this kind of bike racing.
It's crazy to think that both of these life-changing moments were just me following a gut feeling on “let’s take the chance and see what happens.” My first gravel race was quite the experience, It was Around the Pot in 2022 and I apologize in advance if that gives anyone some crazy MUD PTSD. Now the one thing about me, I absolutely hate training in the rain and mud however, when it's race day for some reason something just switches on and I absolutely love it. It was a crazy day of racing in the mud and rain. From when we turned off the tar road and hit the gravel road, I absolutely loved it. The chaos, the speed of the bunch, racing with the men - I loved it all.
When it comes to gravel racing it's not like road racing where if you sit in the bunch and wait for the final sprint, then you can go and win the race by doing the minimum amount of work. For gravel racing you need to tick all the boxes, nutrition, physical and mental. Now we fast forward to the 2023 season - where I am preparing myself mentally and physically for one of my biggest seasons yet!
When I got word that I would now be heading to the States, that’s when the real work started and we had to put a plan into action and get my budget sorted. We created a BackaBuddy page and opened it up to the general public. I was amazed with how quickly the post was gaining traction on social media and before I knew it I had received some personal donations for my trip.
As the momentum started to build up and the word started to spread, it was amazing to see just how many people I had in my corner, cheering me on and wanting to help me achieve my goals and follow my dreams.
Within a month of making the social media post asking for help with my funding, I signed with my very first headline sponsor EIH.CO.ZA. EIH works in green energy, what is very special is that they are also focused on giving back to the community and empowering women cycling. It’s quite an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such amazing people who full-heartedly believe in me and who are helping me to turn my dreams into reality and creating an environment for me where I am able to fully heartily pursue my goals. Without
them, I would not be heading to the USA, quite literally.
It’s been quite a special experience working with EIH, where I have been allowed to design my own custom race kit as they believe “if you look good, you feel good”. That’s where CIOVITA comes in, boy oh boy, if you want to see miracles happen - you call them. I have been lucky enough to be with the CIOVITA family for the past three years and to grow with them where I am now going to be racing overseas on one of the biggest stages in gravel racing is quite the goosebumps moment for me.
Just when I thought that things could not possibly get any better...My agent Tyrone phoned me up just before the Cape Town Cycle Tour and told me. “Hey so...I know you really love Vida. So guess what”. Jip, if you have been following me on social media I am sure that you guessed right, Vida e Caffè came on board as one of my sponsors for this season. This was with many other moments a “pinch me moment”. But now when we look at the finer details when racing at this level, everyone at the start is able to win the race, it really comes down to doing those 1% things and doing them well and that sets you apart from the field when the going gets tough. Ashleigh has truly created an amazing environment within the Collective where a rider is able to grow and learn in a safe environment. Within the Rocacorba Collective, I am able to work closely with team nutritionist Jenny Powel and team Sport Psychologist Steven Vaughan who have both given me the tools to help me work on those 1% factors. When it comes to nutrition it's quite personal and it depends quite a lot on what works for you. Personally, on the bike I enjoy using PowerBar, with being vegan it is always important to work with brands that offer vegan/plant-based friendly options. With PowerBar, I enjoy the simplicity and efficiency of
their products with good clean ingredients. PowerBar is always striving to improve and that doesn’t stop when it comes to the planet and their use of eco-friendly packaging.
Before I pack my bags and set off to the USA, I have been hard at work with my cycling coach Prof. Mike Posthumus and Strength training with coach Dr. Matthew Smith from EverAthlete, and competing in some key races such as the Swartberg 100, a part of the UCI Gravel World Series (which I won) and Race 2 the Sun (where I came third).
I am set to leave on the 22nd of June and my first race of the Life Time Grand Prix series is on the 08th of July - Crusher in the Tushar. I look forward to taking you all along the peaks and valleys of racing abroad and keeping you up to date on all my racing and adventures while I am on the other side of the world.
I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who believes in me and
supports me on this journey.
Here is my racing schedule for the rest of the season.
20 May - Ronde van Riebeek
08 July - Crusher in the Tushar
12 August - Leadville 100
20 August - SBT GRVL
16 September - Chequamegon
30 September - Rad Dirt Fest
21 October - Big Sugar Gravel