Written by Charlene Hartung


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31 May, 2021

Name: Rene Strauss
Nickname: “Doortjie”
Age: 49
Occupation: Banker

I was a smoker for many years and quit smoking in May 2018.   This year I will be nicotine free for 3 years!  I often struggled with my breathing when at the gym or cycling, but realised this habit is not healthy at all.  My youngest also asked me to stop and I did.  This made me realise that if you put your mind to something you can achieve it, so do not limit yourself, challenge yourself and you will achieve greatness.

Together with this big step, I did not pay much attention to my weight because quitting smoking was hard enough.  Because of this, I did not want to put more pressure on myself by taking on too many challenges at once.  In December 2018 while waiting at the finishing line at the Desert Dash, I kept thinking if these cyclists can do it, so can I. The idea of 24 hours through the desert scared me but clearly not enough to want this for myself, too!

I gave Helene at The Training Shack a call and arranged to see her in January 2019.  At this time I still had to do rehabilitation to recover from a knee injury.  Right now I am pushing ahead and making every day count towards my goal.

1.  When did you start cycling?

I started cycling in October 2016 with my son’s bike with my running shoes.

2.  What cycling gear do you use?

A cycling top, my helmet, my padded cycling pants, tights and *cleats.

3. What was your first bike?

A Specialized Rockhopper *hard tail I bought in 2017 when I started cycling. I knew nothing about bicycles and did not pay much attention to the specifications when I bought my first bike.

4. What does your current bike have that your older one didn’t?

My current bike is a Specialized Epic.  This one is a smooth ride, is a *softail and has a *dropper post.  I guess it’s like changing from a Golf to a Tiguan.

5. Do you ever get bored while you’re on your bike?

No, I don’t ever get bored!  I do sometimes wonder when I’m on the bike why I am doing this, but then I realise that I like it a lot.

6. Which applications do you use?

I use Garmin Connect, Training Peaks, Strava and Myfitnesspal.

7. Do you have a smart watch?  If so, which one? 

Yes, I have a Garmin Forerunner 35 for when I am running or walking.  My  Garmin Connect 530 is for cycling training.

8. How often do you ride per week?

I cycle twice a week on the Wattbike and on Saturdays I do my long rides.

9. What additional exercise do you do?

I go walking with Charlie and Archie on Sundays, and on Thursdays I do a 2km run.  In addition, I do functional training twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays with Helene at the Training Shack.

10. Do you prefer cycling alone or in a group?

Cycling in a group is good if you want to push your limits a bit, but I prefer to go solo because I do not want to hold anyone back.

11. What has been your toughest challenge?

My toughest in terms of climbs was the Cape Argus and toughest in terms of technique was the Tiger Trails.

12. What type of diet do you follow? 

No specific diet at the moment, I only eat yogurt and nuts for dinner.  For breakfast I have rolled oats, on advice from Charlie, and for lunch I have leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.

13. Do you use supplements while you cycle? 

I am not that clued up on supplements but started with Isoactive recently.  Will see how my body reacts to it and try out something else at some point.

14. What are your cycling goals?

My goal is to do the Desert Dash in December in a four man team.

15.What would you tell someone that is just starting out?

My advice will be to not give up the first time you experience a tough day because every hobby and challenge has its difficulties.  Take it easy on yourself because you will have off days and on those off days, think about why you took on this hobby and your goals.  Consistency is key and if you like cycling, it will be a breeze in the days to come.  Sometimes I can’t wait for training to start but I do admit that I don’t always feel that way!

Cycling and exercise makes me feel great about myself, it energises me and I’ve realised that your body can do anything you put your mind to.  I am not yet where I want to be in terms of my weight goals, because it’s sometimes one day off and one day on, but this will not stop me from pushing ahead.

I weighed 106kg in July 2020 and now I weigh 92kg.  My goal is 85kg by the end of June.  I take things one day at a time, and that keeps me pushing ahead.

Love always,


For the Reader’s Information


A specially shaped metal or plastic piece that attaches to the bottom of a cycling shoe to securely attach it to a clip less pedal system is called a cleat. The cleat engages with the pedal so that the cyclist’s shoe remains mechanically attached to the pedal during as they cycle. Typically, the cleat and shoe are engaged with the pedal by pressing down against a spring-loaded retention mechanism, and released by twisting the shoe and cleat sideways. (Wikipedia)

*Dropper Post 

A dropper post, commonly referred to as a dropper, allows for quick adjustment of saddle height without requiring you to get off your bike or even stop moving. (Google)

*Softail/full suspension and Hardtail bikes 

Most mountain bikes have suspension to keep you in control over rough ground, but not all mountain bikers need the same amount and type of suspension. Hardtail mountain bikes do not feature a rear shock, whereas full suspension (softail) bikes feature front and rear shocks. Determining whether a hardtail or a full suspension mountain bike is right for you depends on how and where you’ll be riding. (trekbikes.com)


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