How Mountain Biking Can Change Your Body (And Your Confidence)

Here's what it did for GoodLuck's Juls...


Amy Hopkins |

“Facing my fears has helped me to look at life with more conviction and write songs from my heart without fear of judgement.” – Juls, singer for SA electronic band, GoodLuck.

We all know that exercise is good for you, but did you know that exercising in nature can reduce anxiety by twice as much as indoors?

“So many of our songs are inspired by being outdoors and soaking in the magic of the natural world. I also love challenging myself – it always seems to be mind-over-matter when it comes to fear of the unknown,” says Juliet Harding – aka Juls – the singer for SA electronic band, GoodLuck.

We chatted to her about how she challenges herself, gets her nature fix and what riding an electronic or e-bike is like on the mountains.

What made you decide to start mountain biking?

“Ben (the producer of GoodLuck) actually introduced the entire band to mountain biking about three years ago. In the beginning we were all pretty nervous, because he’s quite good at downhill and was taking us on all of his usual crazy routes… But then once we got into it we were all hooked! I absolutely love the feeling of being outside in nature.”

Where do you ride?

“I mostly ride at Tokai in Cape Town as it’s just down the road, and if I can give a massive shout out to all the amazing trail builders – Deon and the team from Tokai MTB who slave away in the sun and often get forgotten! But my absolute favourite is Jonkershoek in Stellenbosch. There are just heaps of incredible trails there with all kinds of terrain… forests, fynbos and waterfalls. My favourite trails are Armageddon and Never Ending Story because they are the perfect amount of technical versus easy riding. Crazy story – I even randomly met Emma Watson there once before launching down a red route single track!”

What bike do you ride?

“I ride a bright orange , which is an e-bike based on the famous Stumpjumper frame. I know a lot of people are very skeptical about e-bikes, but for downhill trail riding they are the best! If you have no idea what an ‘e-bike’ is, its an electrically charged, pedal assisted bike which works to help you climb up the hills. You still pedal and get a workout, but you can get up the hills much faster, which means more time to enjoy the technical downhills with their berms and jumps.”

Watch: 5 Mountain Biking Spots In SA That Are So Safe You Could Ride Alone

“You can also control the amount of ‘push’ you get from the bike – there are three modes: eco, mid and turbo – so you can control how much energy you expend versus the battery. It’s also super-handy as a mode of transport because it gets you to places much quicker than a normal bike. It turns the uphills into almost as much fun as the downhills. If you get the chance to try one out, I guarantee you’ll never look back!”

How often do you ride?

“I don’t do so much training, but rather just enjoy as much time as I can get on the mountain. We usually ride at least three times a week, which is quite a lot considering how often we’re away. It’s addictive though… And so much fun! Sadly, we only get to ride when we’re at home in Cape Town because we have hardly any time when we’re on tour.”

Has mountain biking – even with an e-bike – changed your body?

“Definitely, I feel a big difference in my leg strength as well as my upper-body strength. There’s more definition in my calves as well as my upper arms (from the downhill). I don’t know if I have ‘lost weight’ exactly, but I look slimmer and I feel fitter since I started this sport. The main thing is that it’s done wonders for my confidence.”

Watch: The Best Mountain Biking Advice You Haven’t Heard

How do you motivate yourself to get through a tough technical section?

“The first couple of times I usually walk it. I’m very cautious because I know that if I break any bones I won’t be able to perform shows for a while. Afterwards I feel more confident and then I usually just repeat ‘bum back, eyes forward’ to myself and just go for it. It’s normally so much easier than I was imagining it to be in the first place. Now I’m riding trails that used to terrify me!”

Biggest mountain biking misconception?

“That girls don’t ride well! Have you seen Rachel Atherton ride? If ever there was a female athlete to inspire the masses it’s her – she’s such a wonderful example of incredible talent, mind-boggling confidence and amazing humility. Watching her gives me goosebumps – and if anyone needs to be reminded of how hard she charges, just google any of her world cup wins! Ilsa Stow from South Africa is also amazing and doing some great riding.”

Watch ON: Fitness Fitness Advice Real Women