Introducing… Marie-Claude Baars. You may have seen MC out on the trails fastidiously following your line over a tricky feature or breezing past you on the steepest ascent like you were standing still. Having made the switch from flats to cleats a little over 12 months ago, she hasn’t looked back. Apart from the odd peak over her shoulder at the elite women she’s regularly beating when she races Masters in the local XC rounds.
Shortly before hanging up the old flats, MC had made the decision to head off on a seven day mountain bike trek for her first ever off-road biking experience. Ok, so she wasn’t a complete noob, she did grow up in a little place with respectably large hills called Switzerland!
So how does a mum of four amazing and demanding children get the energy (and the leave pass) for a trip down south for seven days in the saddle?
“The trek is mainly organised by Pete, Paul (father and son, both great riders) and Tracy. It is run by volunteers and all money we pay goes to Margaret River Regional Environmental Centre. Our ride is possible thanks to very committed people from Margaret River and surroundings who commit to either drive our bags, bake or bring a meal to our next destination.”
“We ride 40-50km a day with breaks every 15km or so. At each stop a volunteer is waiting with homemade cake, lunch, fruit, tea, coffee etc. Sometimes all this comes from their own garden! The ride includes sealed and back roads that join into some seriously nice single tracks! This year will be less on the road, more single tracks, especially the single tracks that will be ridden during the Cape to Cape, so this will be a perfect training ride if one is participating in the C2C this year! No stress, no pressure, different levels and, thanks to some volunteer riders, they are able to make up different groups if necessary.
At night, we set up camp, make a fire, have a glass of wine and a volunteer delivers the supper, and joins in for some good food and company. Pete, Paul and Tracy are very engaged in sustainability and some of the stops during the day were at "organic farms" or "green” houses and organic wineries where organic cake or wine was offered ;)
Paul and Pete have become good friends of mine and every time I go to MR I visit them and we go for a ride together. I also met a woman from Cairns at the last trek who has become a very close friend and we are doing the trek and C2C together again this year! We also have plans to do the Joberg2C next year in South Africa together!!”
“Anyway, like I said, very relaxed, very friendly, low key. It's just riding, eating and hanging out with friends who have a common passion! At least that's how it was 2 years ago. (they had to cancel the one last year because they could not afford the insurance, this year the bike shop has stepped in to help cover that cost).”
When asked how she balances the amazing kids and amazing biking:
“well that's interesting because I was just talking to a friend of mine who was saying she has too much to do with kids and work ... and I was saying ‘then it's a sign that you need to mountain bike even more!’ ... the less time you think you have to spare, the more you need the ride!”
Hence the picture above straight after a good ride!
“Oh, and about the “leave pass”? You give him a leave pass; and he gives YOU a leave pass, just not at the same time! ;)”
The Margaret River Cycle Trek starts and finishes at Fair Harvest. Head to the website for all you need to know. And make sure you get that leave pass in pronto cos the countdown to October 19 is on! http://www.margaretrivercycletrek.com.au/
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