9 October 2019

Western Australia’s iconic four day MTB stage race Cape to Cape is all about bringing together ‘Good Mates, Fun Trails and Cold Beers’. As exciting as the first two elements of MTB’s ‘holy trinity’ are, it was the promise of a well-crafted cold ale that really captured South Australian Jordana Blackman’s attention.

“I saw the word brewery in the Cape to Cape event description and I saw there was a craft brewery tour, so that was really perfect for us,” she recalled. “My husband Joe and I have already booked in a tour for the day after stage four, so we are going to stay in Margaret River for a couple of days after the event to chill out.”

These days Jordana’s life is all about her writing career, riding bikes and sipping beverages, but it wasn’t always that way.

“I started riding MTB when I met my husband. I had cancer when I was 25 and after I recovered, I wanted to do a charity bike ride to raise money for the hospital where I was treated. That kind of led to ‘I think a MTB would be great’, so seven years ago my husband took me out riding. I started off in some basic forest trails and gradually improved a little bit and now I have been mountain biking in Canada, New Zealand and most of Australia, which is great.”

“I also run a company called ‘Chicks Who Ride Bikes’ which is a recreational type community group for women in cycling that started in Brisbane, where I was living at the time. It really began as a grass roots movement, based on the fact that when I started to ride as an adult, everything was scary. So, now we organise rides and everything based around people who felt like I did. Sometimes it is for an actual event, like a race, and sometimes it is for a big community get together such as Crankworx in Rotorua.”

“We have a lot of different events that we sponsor and encourage people to do. Like the MTB event in Queensland we sponsor called Chicks in the Sticks, where there were 300 women riders of all ages. I see women’s cycling as a real growth sector and there is a lot of positivity at the moment because we have proven that women do want to do events like this. It all depends on the marketing and whether women can identify with the event. We have 3,500 members now, so there are a lot more people who feel like I did, and how I do, than I first realised,” she laughed.

With a variety of MTB events and an IRONMAN New Zealand finish to her name, Cape to Cape will be Jordana’s first four day MTB stage race and her first trip to Western Australia, so she is delighted to be taking on a new challenge and taking in some new experiences.

“My husband Joe and I are both riding Cape to Cape. He grew up in Ireland in the 90s downhill boom that went on over there. So, he started riding his MTB as a young teenager doing quite a lot of the real gnarly downhill stuff, so his bike handling skills are really good. He is a pretty strong mountain biker and I am a little bit more of an averaged/intermediate punter, you could call it. I just really love getting out and about in the fresh air counteracting all the things that an office can do to you. So, it will be just nice to be in a new environment and getting out on the MTB.”

“I only learned to ride a bike when I was 25, so I don’t have the early year’s experience, where you muck around on bikes and you learn a lot of skills from being a kid, crashing into things and making jumps. I don’t have that background, so everything was scary for me from the start. It has been a big steep learning curve for me going from having never ridden at all, to now where riding is a massive part of my life and social circle.”

“I have never been to WA, so I am really pumped and excited about the scenery and the race itself. I have been reading about the event and, the distances aside, technically it is very achievable for me despite being my first multi day event. I think the biggest stage is Boranup Forest which is 72km so that will be the most I have ridden in one day. So, the challenge for me is the fitness and time in the saddle, as opposed to every corner being really challenging and technical. I find the technical stuff a lot less stressful, I am pretty sure I can do that.”

“As women, we tend to worry about ‘Will I be able to do it?’ or ‘Maybe it will be really difficult’. But all the feedback from people I talk to is that Cape to Cape is really enjoyable, and I will be able to do it no worries. So now I feel more excited than apprehensive, which is good,” she said.

Of course, for Jordana and Joe at the end of every stage of Cape to Cape there is the opportunity to take part in the MTB ritual of a beer with some banter.

“My husband and I met at a pub in Sydney so we both enjoy beer in general and craft beer specifically. We love the fact that lots of little breweries are popping up all over and the flavours you can get now are just so wonderful. It is amazing what brewers are able to do. There are already some famous brewers over in WA, so I am excited to go over and incorporate that into the trip. I was thinking it would be really, really great.”

“I will be trying to balance getting to the finish line as quickly as I can, with trying to enjoy myself. But I think my husband is looking to try and punish himself, so we will see how that goes for him. At least if he rides quickly, he can have the beer waiting for me,” she smiled.