In 2018, Rob and Carel travelled to Maranello for a Ferrari experience with our partner’s Pablo Clark Racing and EasyEquities. On this trip they met Lanz and Nicole, the superstars behind ShredBettys, who had won the giveaway prize to join the trip to Italy. ShredBettys was founded by female riders for female riders, with a vision to create an all-girls “dream” boarding, biking and lifestyle programme.
Carel recently visited Durban with Kurt and arranged to have lunch with Lanz and Nicole where they shared this story with him. We found it inspiring and so decided to share it with you too.
An initiative by Megan35 and Leatt
After returning from the USA in 2018 where I attended a 7 week training course I was ready to grab this industry by the short and curlies, only to be halted in my tracks.
How it all started
From the day I started a motorbike in 2014 my whole life changed.
Although I was a straight “A” student who had fallen in love with a male dominated sport, things became very difficult. As with any teenage girl I needed the approval and support of my girl friends who could never understand my passion. This group of friends had been my friends since kindergarten. As time went on and my passion grew I quickly found myself in a turmoil of emotions – stuck between 14 to 16 year old hormonal boys who loved the fact that I raced motorbikes and my “so called” girl friends who were laughing at my scarred legs and arms after a weekend of riding, training and racing. Within no time I became the Jealous Discussions of the people who were supposed to support me, and the Target of the boys who admired me, treating me like a trophy.
Fortunately for me I am raised in a home where “everything” and I literally mean “EVERYTHING” is an open discussion. A safe heaven where any one of our 5 children have the freedom to ask, discuss or reason about life and all the mechanisms that make life worth living. A home filled with wisdom and experience.
“Give up” that little voice that makes you feel insecure. “you’re not good enough” “everybody is laughing at you” “she’s better” “she’s prettier” and so the list goes on, a sad sad place where most teenage girls find themselves. In my “home filled with wisdom” I was asked one question:
Dad: “what do you want to become in this new sport that you have fallen in love with?”
Me: “World Champ in the Ladies MX Division”
Dad: “Ok, not Regional Champ or National Champ in SA?”
Me: “Obviously that too, but World Champ, that’s what I want”
Dad: “Well think about it this way. Someone has to be World Champ, some human being and if that is so, well then why can it not be you?”
Since everything in our home is an open book my Mom and Dad knew exactly what I was going through at school. The pressure I was under from other teenagers and the influence it had on my life, creating chaos in my mind and measuring my worth in “likes” and “shares”
Dad: “World Champ it is then. Here are the rules:”
- “Please print an A4 size photograph of the current Ladies Champion standing on the podium (Ashley Fiolec at that stage). Cut out her face and replace it with a photo of yourself. (Now that was a challenge, trying to find a photo of myself that I like) Take that photo and place it somewhere you can look at it every day”
- “Delete the noise. If it does not add value to your life – Delete. If you reading it and it does not fall in line with your goal – Delete. If a conversation steers in a direction opposite to your dream – Delete. If you are speaking to someone who makes negative comments – Delete (OK DAD, STOP!! You’re deleting my whole life here) If someone sends you messages after 10 at night – Delete, nothing good can come from that. Most importantly Delete any doubt that you may have about your goal”
- “Rule 3, and I know this is where we are going to fight like hell but I need you to trust me. To become a World Champ you need to live, breath and think like a world champ (So why would we fight about the obvious?) and that includes being a leader. That does not mean that you need to lead other people, but people who have control over every aspect of their lives would lead by example. In today’s world these people are evident when you look at the social media profiles. So, I need you to work so hard and be so dedicated to your dream that you become a leader, this means you need far more followers than the people you follow (WHAAATT??? He is interfering with my whole life now) So, if you are currently following some random guy or girl who liked your photo and you returned the gesture out of common courtesy – DELETE and refer back to rule No2”
This was the start of it all, one day, one discussion, one moment.
The 3 years following this discussion became one incredible journey and little by little my dream started unfolding in front of my eyes. I was noticed by so many people who started following my journey and all of a sudden I became a leader. I still try to figure out what I am a leader of and in our “open book” home we would often discuss these issues. Resilience seems to be the most voted attribute. I am not sure, what I do know is that my story is not over for some time to come, there is a much greater purpose.
After returning from the USA I felt invincible. I had never worked so hard in my life and every breath I took brought me closer to my goal. I will never forget the first race after returning. At the end of the race I was literally overwhelmed by supporters who stood in awe at my achievements. It was all coming together; I was on a roll and more focussed than ever before and then it came…. The Ultimate Test.
During a routine practice session my foot got caught in a rut at high speed. An intense pain ran straight through my knee. Something I had never felt before. So, like any other injury we strapped it up and tried again. At the next race a week later, the knee completely dislocated for no reason. Conclusion: A Torn ACL, LCL and both menisci were destroyed. The operation was horrific, the 5-month recovery and rehab was excruciatingly painful, but the STOP was ten times worse. Loosing the momentum was devastating. Since I was bed ridden, I thought to myself “ok, take 5 months and finish school, while you at it why not do grade 11 and 12 in 5 months? If you can do that then you will have more time to ride once you have recovered”
DONE – DUSTED with 4 distinctions.
It took about 6 months to fully recover. Initially the doctors said it would take 12 months before I could ride again. The school also said it takes 2 years to do grades 11 and 12.
I was back on the bike, back in the gym, back on my bicycle and it all felt good. Really Good. I booked a refresher training session with a training who was visiting South Africa from the USA. I needed that hard work feeling to get back on track. On the first day of the training session I came of the track, the bike literally tipped over and my foot got stuck under the bike and then…. that same feeling, but this time in the other leg, could that be possible?
Could it be possible that I had torn my other ACL also? That one injury that every rider fear…. TWICE????
STOP – Again?
Yes – STOP AGAIN!
My mind, how would I survive this mentally.
Fortunately, there was no damage to any other part of the knee and my ACL was replaced with a LARS artificial ligament, speeding up the recovery to only 3 months. After 6 weeks I could ride smaller races and at the time of writing this I have fully recovered and will start gym and cycling again, making my way back.
This was the point where Aspire to Inspire was born.
Mentally I was going through the most traumatic time of my life and it literally felt that everything I worked for was taken from me. There were days that I would literally sit on the couch and sob for hours.
There were days that I was furious at everyone and everything, days that neither my parents nor my siblings could cope with me, and then there were days that I would look back from where I started and say to myself “this is temporary” I started changing my focus away from my own “self” and started looking at other professionals out there like Ken Roczen who almost lost his arm but still managed to recover only to get his hand stuck in a back wheel – AGAIN! If he could survive this this, I CAN! The more I focused on other professionals, the more I realised I was not alone.
Armed with my newfound inspiration and one cripple leg I called for a family meeting and between smiles and tears I explained that there is only way forward. Keep moving forward!
My Dad always has the wisest way of saying or explaining something, planting the seed and allowing you to water it, grow it and maintain it, guiding us all along the way.
Dad: “I need you to think back to the first day you attended a National Motocross race”
Me: “Dirt Bronco”
Dad: “What was it about that day that changed your life?”
Me: “I stood in ques to get signatures from people like Kerim Fitzgerald, Nanda Swiegers, Dirco van der Westhuizen and David Goosen and thinking to myself that I will be one of them someday”
Dad: “OK, you may not realize it my darling, but you are one of them now. All the people that you have mentioned are riders who are moving closer to the end of their careers and that places the responsibility squarely on your shoulders. You are being watched and followed by thousands. You are a leader. You need to find your niche, something that shows your true value and sincere dedication to other riders who love the sport. The sport is way more than a trophy, it is dedication, resilience, respect and commitment”
Me: “Ok, then I will just give away my trophies to young riders. If I get podium at a race, I will give it away that same day”
Dad: Chuckle chuckle “You don’t have to go to those extremes. The point I am trying to make is this: find your niche, you know how difficult it is to succeed in this sport and the criticism you need to endure. Find something that would inspire other young riders. Something to hold on to when things get really difficult”
Me: “Like a trophy”
And this was the end of the discussion.
Since that day I have donated 10 of my trophies to other young riders. Each one of these riders and their parents have become friends and family in a way. The most beautiful comment I ever received from one of the parents:
“You have no idea what this meant to my child. The fact that one of our country’s top athletes are so approachable, it is amazing. Thank you for inspiring my child.”
AND SO, IT WAS BORN!
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE – and I love every moment of it.