You wouldn’t be the first to double-take when you see this rider with long blonde hair confidently sending the jumps on the Delta Park jump line in Johannesburg. Karla Stumpf has a well above average skill level for a young woman her age. Any age for that matter. We find out more about this rising star.

Photo Credit: Dominic Barnardt

Tell us how you started mountain biking?

In 2016 we moved to Johannesburg from Oudtshoorn and my dad took me, my sister and my mother for a cycle along the Braamfontein Spruit near our home. I really enjoyed going out to cycle in nature,  while living in a big city. From there on I joined the cycling team at my school, and I went for a ride now and then with my dad.

What got you into mountain bike racing?

My school, Helpmekaar Kollege, participated in the Spur Schools MTB League and I started doing these races and I realised that I really enjoy racing my bike and pushing myself to the limit.

Photo Credit: Dominic Barnardt

What is your most treasured mountain bike racing result and why?

My most treasured MTB racing result was definitely when I came second (Junior Women) at the 2019 half marathon SA-champs. That was the first time that I realized that I’m actually good enough to win some races and that hard work pays off. I started to believe in myself after that race.

You’re a second-year Junior and in Grade 12. What are your plans for 2021 – will you study or work? And will you continue to focus on MTB racing?

I’m considering studying in Stellenbosch next year and to join the Maties cycling team. I’m also considering studying in America or Europe while racing my bike as much as possible.

Photo Credit: Dominic Barnardt

Tell us about your bike and gear?

I have a Santa Cruz Blur. I have a 34 cSixx oval chainring and SRAM 1 x 12 cassette. For races with a lot of climbing I use a 32 oval chainring. My bike’s name is Luca, named after Luca Shaw.

Do you have any sponsors?

Anderson Transport sponsored me a kit to race in and Enduren gives me an athlete discount on all their products.

With the Covid-19 lockdown, how have you changed your focus to stay motivated without any races?

My last junior year is not what I expected it to be, but I believe that everything happens for a reason. I’m motivated by next year. I’ve realised that life and racing will go on after this virus and I want to be as ready as I can for next year’s racing. I’ve been doing some virtual races on Zwift, but it’s not the same thing!

We see you are comfortable sending jumps and gaps! It’s not that common for females. Did you specifically set out to improve your skills and ability to jump?

Yes, I did. There is a nice jump line near my house in Delta Park, Johannesburg and since I started cycling I always wanted to send those jumps. I’ve worked hard on my jumping technique. Over time and with the help of a skills coach I became more comfortable with jumping.

Do you have a performance coach and a skills coach?

My dad, Johan Stumpf, is my performance coach and my skills coach is Chris Pearton.

What is the best part of being a mountain biker?

There are a lot of awesome things you experience as a mountain biker. Some of my favourites are: the views, the coffee, the downhills (and sometimes the climbs), being in nature, the races, the bikes, the vibe and definitely the mountain biking community.

Photo Credit: Dominic Barnardt

Anyone in particular you would like to mention that is important in helping you achieve your mountain biking freedom and success?

I want to thank my dad for being my biggest supporter and for being my riding partner and coach since the beginning of my cycling journey.

Follow Karla on Instagram:  @karla_stumpf