When South Africa’s 2018 National Road Champ, Carla Oberholzer, isn’t running her restaurant or physiotherapy practice, she’s training and winning races. Her husband, Stefan, is her training partner and mechanic. “He plays a huge role in my cycling success,” says Carla.
Carla began cycling at the age of 17 after her 10-year gymnastics career ended. Even though she grew up in a cycling loving family, it wasn’t love at first pedal stroke. After some time, she gradually grew to love the suffering and challenges that cycling is famous for.
She raced a few Junior and U23 events before taking a break to finish her physiotherapy studies. Carla dabbled in trail running and gym work before starting up cycling again when she began dating Stefan.
She was set on not racing seriously and said that if she ever needed to use a power meter or drink a protein shake, she’d quit. For about a year, the two rode mainly MTB until Stefan convinced her to enter The Fast One in 2014. Still refusing to race Carla entered open and raced in B batch. She was super bored and hated it, so the next event – Berge en Dale – two weeks later, she entered Elite and finished third.
The bug had officially bitten again. It took a good two and a half years, and it wasn’t until mid 2016 after being let go by her current team, when Team Demacon took Carla in and she started racing to her full potential. She says, “I’ve been with Team Demacon ever since, they are like my family!”
Carla cites a number of career highlights – being chosen to represent South Africa as part of the national team, for the first time in 2015, and racing in France and Italy; winning the 2017 and 2018 Amashova and this year’s National Road Champs.
On the flip side, when SASCOC decided not to send a ladies team to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, for which she trained really hard, Carla was very disappointed. She says, “The true highlights are not necessarily winning races but the moments in a race where your team sets things up perfectly for you in order to win, or where your management team shouts encouragement with such excitement from the car because of their absolute belief in you; those are the real life-changing high moments.”
Last year, Carla spent three months in Spain and Europe racing for the UCI Bizkaia Durango Team. It was a time of extreme highs (she won multiple QOM’s in races and placed on the podium several times) and extreme lows (she crashed and broke her hand during the third stage of the 7-day Lotto Tour in Germany).
Although Carla still finished that race, it was not the result she was hoping for. The entire experience opened her eyes on many different levels and it’s an opportunity she’ll always be grateful for.
FRAME HEAD I SPEED VI size 45
FORK HEAD DRIVETRAIN Shimano Ultegra Di2 2x11
CASSETTE Shimano 11/25
CHAIN Shimano Ultegra
CHAINRINGS Absolute Black Premium Oval Road 52/36
HANDLEBARS & STEM Zipp SL Contour
WHEELS Gipiemme GPM C32 carbon
SADDLE Fabric Scoop Pro Team Flat
PEDALS Garmin Vector
POWER METER Garmin Vector