As the first South African black female cyclist ever to complete the Absa Cape Epic, she can certainly claim to be a pioneer. When it was announced that she was selected for the cross-country team that will represent South Africa at the World Championship in Pietermaritzburg in August, the 20-year-old Kubwana made South African cycling history for a second time this year.
Being a realist and a perfectionist, Kubwana realises that she will have to do something special when she represents South Africa. “I don’t want to be just part of the national team to make up the numbers. I want to make myself and my country proud with the way I ride. And, if I am realistic, I have to admit that at the moment I will not be able to do so.
“I really battle on steep climbs and get nervous when I have to race at full speed through technical rocky sections. I will have to improve before I can properly represent South Africa.”
Kubwana took up the problem with her Exxaro team managers, Justice Makhale and Brandon Whiteley, and they understood her concerns. It has been arranged for her to go to Cape Town where Doctor Jeroen Swart, who is considered to be one of South Africa’s foremost cycling coaches, will help her.
Kubwana is very excited about this prospect. “I know that part of the solution to my problem will be a victory of ‘mind over matter’. Sometimes, when I have to race through a technical section, I get nervous just for the sake of getting nervous. This opportunity to work with dr Jeroen, just proves again what a privilege it is to be part of the Exxaro MTB Academy.
“You know, I wake up with a smile every morning because Exxaro is giving me the chance and opportunity to live my dream.” It is not always easy to be a black female mountain biker. According to Kubwana, some of her friends thought there was something wrong with her because she prefers to do mountain biking instead of participating in the traditional female sports such as netball and athletics.
“I don’t understand why you are expected to only participate in sports like netball if you are a woman. I love doing something that other black women are not doing yet and if more of them were exposed to the sport they would all be taking part or competing.
“Luckily, my parents understand my position and fully support me. In fact my mom keeps telling me how proud she is of me. In my opinion mountain biking is one of the most exciting sports. Each race has its own unique challenges and you never know what to expect when you race around the next corner.”
According to Kubwana she is, slowly but surely, changing some people’s perception about being a black female mountain biker. “Recently some of my friends started hinting that they might also want to give mountain biking a go and they now want to know how they can get started. What is quite exciting is that there is a 12-year-old black girl who is really talented. I know she can win some big races in future if she gets the right kind of support.”