From an Inspirational triathlete, to an inspiration runner, and now to an inspiration cyclists (who also runs Comrades!). This week on 32Gi Sports Nutrition we chat to Team Lifecycle’s Johan Joubert, in the first of a two-part podcast series.
This is 32Gi Sports Nutrition, I’m Mr Active, David Katz and it’s a great pleasure once again to introduce an inspirational athlete and endurance nut, Johan Joubert. Johan, thanks for joining us and let’s just start, traditionally you’re a cyclist, where did your cycling journey start?
Johan Joubert: David, I started cycling in 2004 at the age of 32, was a bit overweight and unfit and so that’s basically where I started. Early 2005 decided to start racing vets category and I think I took on cycling, cycling was like second nature to me, so I really enjoyed it from there.
Finding your sporting (endurance) niche
DK: How did that progression go for you, from being just getting on a bike, to getting up to a vet level and being competitive?
JJ: I think the key for me was consistency. In 2005, when I started racing in the vets category, a lot of my friends said, why don’t I just give it a bit of a gap and see how things go? As opposed to starting and racing in a vets category.
I think because I love the sport so much and I took to cycling so quickly I decided let me get into the hot water quickly and progress from there. Just a bit of background, in 2006 I had a great year and 2007 I won the KZN Road Cycling League in my age group, podium both in the time trial and the road race.
DK: In South Africa unfortunately we don’t have a lot of professional teams. We’ve got BCX at the moment, Road Cover folded end of last year. We see it happening in the women’s teams as well, but the vets category, that seems to maintain a certain amount of strength and is extremely competitive isn’t it?
JJ: Absolutely! I think back now from about 2009/2010, we started getting the likes of Jacques Fullard, after Nick White retired from, it was then Medscheme, those guys are all racing in our vets category which is really, uplifts the level of vets cycling in South Africa.
If we look at our top times in vet racing compared to, I’m talking about the bigger races, 94 and Amashova and those kind of races, the gaps between the vets and the elite riders isn’t as big as what it was say 10-12 years ago, which makes it great. It’s better for us as well, it lifts our game.
How to combat road cycling dangers
DK: Talk to me about road versus mountain biking. Of course in South Africa the last 10-15 years mountain biking has become massive. Sadly I think it’s, not in a bad way, but maybe from a safety perspective it seems to be pulling a lot more of the youth towards mountain biking, as opposed to road cycling in South Africa. But there is still a space for both disciplines isn’t there?
JJ: Absolutely! I think it was round about 2010, the time we lived in Limpopo I started doing my endurance rides on the mountain bike because of the dangers, because the roads started getting busier. You get a couple of close calls.
So I’m better on the road racing, but I do most of my training on the mountain bike. I think it makes you, mountain biking, training-wise makes you strong. But there’s definitely, I agree with you, mountain biking is growing.
If I had to encourage my children to take part, I would rather say, go for mountain biking. Because of the risks of road cycling, on the roads, even in Secunda we’ve got limited roads where we can train on. We try and avoid riding certain times and certain roads, just for our own safety.
DK: Sad reality of life and not just a South African problem. I think it’s a global problem at the moment.
JJ: Absolutely and we’ve got to play our part too. We’re all road users and we’ve all got to take care and be courteous.
10kg lost cycling (and eating right)
DK: Johan, let’s go back to when you started, you said it was to lose a bit of weight, along with your cycling, was there a shift in the way your diet worked, was it two-fold?
JJ: Absolutely! I got to a stage where I lost about 10kg, I was about 20kg overweight and about a year later, I was a sugar junky, I loved chocolates and cake and that kind of thing, so I had to cut back. I tried a couple, Weigh-less and stuff like that, but that was just torture! I think about three years ago, that’s when nutrition really took a turn for the best.
Previously I was on that low fat/high carb and everything was, prior to a race or a long ride or a long run, carbo loading-carbo loading. As soon as I changed my diet to a more real-food diet, cutting out the processed stuff and sticking to getting my carbs in with veg and fruit, the sugar and stuff like that, cutting out the processed and the cakes and the sweets and the sugar and coffee. It’s really made, not just a difference in my overall being, but performance-wise and recovery, it’s made a huge difference.
How the Youth can learn from our mistakes
DK: Is that an important thing, as a middle-aged man, there are these fantastic diets out there and there’s these fads, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about natural eating or trying to stay away, as you said, from refined foods. Is that a good experience and a knowledge that you would pass on to other people to say, “Look, this does work.” Everyone is different, but this is a good way of doing it and I’m a prime example?
JJ: Absolutely! It goes back to trial and error. You try a lot of, even with your training, but absolutely, a lot of my friends know what I do and I like to pass that on. A lot of guys tend to keep their secrets close to their chest, but I would rather pass that on and especially to the younger guys, the juniors and younger folk that I train with, not to make the same mistakes I made!
*Next time Johan shares some not to be missed cycling nutritional advice, and shares his Comrades Marathon story with us.