One of the fastest ladies in Africa, Nanda Clowes is currently leading the SA WMX Nationals series. We caught up with Nanda at her original stomping ground of Sandtrax in Sasolburg to chat about her Motocross career and bring you #SandDreams – video and interview feature.
Brought to you by Dragon Energy Drink.
Full name: Nanda Clowes
Nickname: Nands, Nansi, Nakkie, Nans…
Hometown: Pretoria North
Years racing: 12 years (stopped for 4 of those 12 to study)
Class: Ladies / WMX
Bike setup: KTM 250SXF 2017
Sponsors: d-force Race Team, Dragon Energy Drink, Just1 Helmets, Leatt, CTi Kneebraces, EVS, Cycra, USWE, Eks Brand, Greasetec, Maxima Oils, Dunlop, Ellies and Sole Racer.
How did you get into the sport of motocross and how old were you when you first raced?
My dad bought a KDX200 when I was about 16, he is the main reason I started. I discovered my passion for riding motorbikes and entered my first offroad race when I was 17 (2005), then a motocross race later that year at the old Gosforth track. 2007 was my first full year of racing.
Where did you finish?
I actually can’t remember, I think 5th overall in the MX Support class, but I think there were only 10 riders. I came 2nd to a quad lady at the offroad race which I wasn’t very happy about [laughs].
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Going overseas to race in the World Championships in 2009 and 2015. Winning 3 championships and receiving my Protea Colours in 2009 for motorsport. Representing my country in the MX of African Nations, and training people who love riding.
What does the sport mean to you?
Wow, where to begin? To be completely honest, I believe God has used it to change my life for the better. It made a me choose to go to bed early so I could ride on Saturdays, rather than party all night. Don’t get me wrong, I partied and had fun, but motocross taught me discipline and self value more than anything at that time in my life. It also brought my parents back together, which is the best gift racing has given me. It’s something I love sharing with my husband and even though he doesn’t race, he loves my racing.
With Sandtrax in Sasolburg being your original stomping ground, what does it mean to you to have #SandDreams filmed there?
I must say it is quite a privilege to have achieved so much and to think it all started at Sandtrax. It’s a privilege to still be mixing it up with the top girls a decade later. I met a lot of people there that influenced my racing career including track owner, Deon Van Rensburg and my local hero Ian Topliss.
What type of track do you prefer riding/ racing on?
Big flowy tracks like Cape Town. It’s my favourite and compliments my style best.
You are currently leading the 2017 Championship. What’s it going to take to keep the lead with just a few rounds left?
A championship means nothing without enjoying the journey. Even a tough journey can be enjoyed when we race for the right reasons. Keeping the lead is the plan, but having fun has always been the focus this year. Consistency is key to winning championships, look at Ryan Dungey.
Who is your main competition this year?
My team mate, Kayla Raaff, and Leah Heygate are my main competition at the moment, but I can already see more girls up at our speed next year. It’s very exciting!
Which local and international racers do you look up to?
Local racer would be Ian Topliss, because of his cool personality and his riding style. Internationally it would have to be Valentino Rossi, even though he doesn’t race motocross, I have learnt more from him than any other racer in the world.
What does your training regime consist of and how often are you on the bike?
I ride midweek and weekends, but mostly weekends. My training is constantly changing, but since my PCL is torn off, I cycle a lot for off-bike training and do some gym work.
What goes through your mind when you are on the bike?
I’m a different person when my helmet goes on on race days and I mostly focus on my style and breathing when I race. You have to plan ahead in racing, so I think about the track mostly.
What one race would you love to compete in and why?
The Dakar believe it or not, with my husband and my dad. That would be epic. Motocross-wise I really want to do the Glen Helen Vets World Cup race in the USA or any of the World Championship races.
How do you think our local female racers compare to the world’s best?
Myself and Brittany Cuthbert placed top 30 before, but I’m sure there will be future female racers that will place higher. The world’s best are the world’s best, so top 30 out of 40-45 girls isn’t bad for local girls.
What advice would you give any ladies/ girls looking to get into the sport?
Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask. Learn with your eyes and discipline yourself. Never compare yourself and always be grateful for the girl that’s faster or slower than you. If you win, congratulate your competition and if you loose do the same. A true champion knows what it takes to race like we do and respects her fellow racers.
What future goals have you set for yourself?
I would like to race both the ladies class and vets class at nationals in the near future, placing well in both and one day race the World Vets championship in America.
When not on the bike, what do you like to get up to?
My husband always says I have ants in my pants, the only thing that gets me to chill is a good movie or food. I enjoy the outdoors, so if I’m not on my bike I’ll be on my bicycle or playing with the dogs. I love spending time with family/ friends and training people on the bike is something I also really enjoy.
Video by Obsession Media House