Hey Holla: Q&A with Sanchia Malan

This month we talk to Sanchia Malan, SA MTB Champion and Holla Trails Ambassador

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where you are from, how long you have been riding, what level you ride at and what you do for work?
I was born in Bloemfontein, but grew up in Vanderbijlpark in the Vaal Triangle. I started riding about three years ago. My partner – Paul Izzard bought me a helmet and encouraged me to try it out. At first I thought it was way too rough for me, and I crashed numerous times before I started to enjoy it. I was lucky that my riding developed quickly and I am now racing semi-professionally 😊. I work as a property broker for Index Property Solutions, which allows me flexibility to focus on my cycling which is great!

Can you share your journey into the world of mountain biking and what inspired you to pursue it at a competitive level?
The sport can be quite daunting for any new comers, but we are trying incredibly hard to encourage more women to participate in this amazing sport. Being a new-comer myself, I can relate. I was, and still am, motivated by the many other competitive women in this sport to become better, to work harder and to learn something new every time I race.

How do you believe your experiences as a South African MTB champion can inspire and empower other aspiring female riders?
I received the Sub-Vet South African MTB jersey when I raced in my age category last year for marathon and XCO which was such a privilege, but I realised that I was hungry for more and decided to step up to race in the “Elite” or “Pro” level this year.  It was a huge leap for me, but the more challenging, the better 😊. It was nice to meet many other women in the sport, but to also make them realise that anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I was also a newbie and I had many, many setbacks so I can relate.

What does it mean to you to be an ambassador for Holla Trails?
I absolutely LOVE Holla Trails, and I ride the trails almost every day, so to be an ambassador is something that’s very close to my heart. The trails, the scenery and being able to do most of my training there is special. It is also an opportunity for me to expose the Holla brand and our trails to other riders and event organisers to hopefully see if we can get a nice big event at the trails next year 😊

Can you describe your training and preparation routine for competitive events? Are there any specific trails at Holla that have played a crucial role in your training?
It depends on the type of race I am prepping for, but I my coach – Ty White from DriveTrain Academy, is very good at making sure that my training blocks build up nicely to peak at the important races. The Sunrise climb (going up via the Purple trail) is awesome for the shorter, 4-5 min intervals 😉

What are some of your favourite aspects of Holla Trails?
I love that Holla has a bit of everything for everyone- awesome single tracks, decent climbing, jeep track and some nice technical bits as well for those who like a challenge.  Mainly it suits almost every rider, regardless of level and skill – there is something for everyone.

What advice would you offer to both experienced and novice MTB enthusiasts who visit Holla Trails for the first time? Any must-ride trails or tips for a memorable experience?
The Green trail is ideal for beginner riders, whilst the Red and Pink trails will suit the more experienced riders as the routes offer a bit more climbing with some more single track to enjoy. Purple is also a great ride to do, it has the climbs, but slightly less single track than Red and Pink, so ideal for a semi-endurance ride. Yellow is perfect to use as a training ride for the 50 – 60 km marathons. Best tip is to have fun, make sure you pack enough nutrition and hydration if you are doing the longer routes, and ALWAYS ride with a puncture repair kit, CO2 canister, and preferably sealant in your tyres!

In your opinion, how has the sport of mountain biking grown or evolved in South Africa, and what role do you see Holla Trails playing in its development?
Holla makes mountain biking accessible for people here in Ballito and from afar, which plays a major role in developing the sport. The trails are only 15 mins away from King Shaka International Airport, and approx. 30 mins from Umhlanga, which makes it the ideal venue for Mountain bike, Enduro or even Gravel events.

Finally, could you share any memorable or inspiring moments from your mountain biking career that have had a profound impact on you as an athlete and ambassador for the sport?
I think the most important thing that I have learnt is that it is not about the destination, but about the journey. Be the best that YOU can be. My best memories are actually made up of the times I have fun on the bike, when I reach the top of a challenging climb or when I do a really challenging interval and get my numbers right – small gains 😊