So who hasn’t watched a World Cup XCO MTB race without noticing and admiring the wild girl with the blonde curls whizzing around the course on her Trek bike? Cool as you please, and always in control.
Little girls dream and aspire to become fearless and fierce as Jolanda Neff on a bike. Even my pre-teen boys cannot wait for XCO MTB season, so they can spend Sunday afternoons watching XCO World Cups and cheering on their favourite female rider.
And when she went on to win gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 in crazy weather conditions, she cemented her heroin status among mountain bikers even more firmly.
So, when we heard via the grapevine that the entire Swiss MTB Team was training in sunny South Africa, right around the time of the first king Price Trailseeker Race of the year, we thought, what if…? why not?
Our media team reached out to the riders in the vague hope that our invitations to race would generate some excitement and curiosity in the ranks of the Swiss riders. But we never heard back from Jolanda. Until Thursday at 22h00 in the evening. She was available to race! And would love to ride.
Surprise! There she was popping a King Price Trailseeker number board on that famous bike of hers!
And what a pleasure it was to have her here. Yes, she dominated, and we expected no less.
Our own, Fritz Pienaar, had the privilege of being the lead rider for the ladies race on his Specialized Levo, ‘It was a pleasure to watch a genius at work. She has an easy, beautiful riding style, upright posture and signature high cadence pedalling with zero hesitation and complete confidence over technical sections.’
The kids who participated in the Schools Introductory XCM Series were in awe. She graciously stood for photographs and signed autographs after having just completed a gruelling race in 40-degree heat. All with her beautiful smile never slipping.
Jolanda, you have earned the South African community’s everlasting admiration and loyalty. Not only because you are crazy good on a mountain bike but because of your charming, unassuming and gracious nature.
We will welcome you back with open arms and know that there will always be a spot reserved for Jolanda Neff on the start line of any King Price Trailseeker Race!