20 May 2015 – The 2015 KwaZulu-Natal MTB Championships (XCO) will be taking place at Cascades MTB Park, Pietermaritzburg, on Saturday 30 May. Sponsored by KwaZulu-Natal Sports and Recreation, the event will allow top contenders in the KZN regions to compete for the 2015 XCO Championship title.
The world-renowned venue, having hosted four UCI MTB World Cups and two World Championships, is fully geared up and more than prepared to host the annual provincial championship.
Riding in the mix is Elite Men’s 2013 KZN XCO Champ, Stuart Marais. “I am very confident going into KZN Champs,” he said. “I have had a lot of bad luck throughout the year but I am very happy with the progress that I have been making over the year thus far.”
Although falling ill this week, the 27-year-old is determined to come back with a vengeance and is excited to try and reclaim the title this year after having finished in second place in the 2014 KZN Champs.
Kokstad local, Tyron Bird (25), is not too sure how he is feeling about KZN Champs, but is looking forward to it nonetheless. “I don’t know how I feel, to be honest. It’s my first year riding cross-country seriously, so who knows how this is going to go,” he said.
“I’m definitely not in form and haven’t had the most excellent season so far, but I’m still going to try my best,” he added.
Bird, although new to XCO, is eager to race, and excited for the future of the season. “It’s also going to be quite interesting to see how the racing plays out, because some of our top riders are in Europe at the moment,” he said.
When chatting about the Cascades track, Bird had this to say: “I love Cascades. It’s so technical. It’s definitely one of my favourite tracks. I’ve raced there and had very good times, but I’ve also raced there and crashed my brains out, so there are a lot of stories attached to that track.”
Bird has raced in two of the three National Cup races this year, and plans to race in the fourth at the end of June. After that, he then prepares for SA Champs.
Another keen KZN rider is Junior Woman Sabrina van Wyk, who will be fighting hard to earn her KZN Colours. The Pure Adventure Wear Team (PAW) rider, although no stranger to the podium, is still slightly nervous for her race, as she tries to keep her head in the game, but also balance school life and study time for exams.
When speaking about training and preparation, the 17-year-old had this to say: “I’ve been doing some paddling as well, and it has been a huge help in terms of my core strength for XCO. I have also been doing some cross-training and running, so it’s helped strengthen my leg muscles as well.”
Van Wyk enjoys the time that she spends with her team. “It’s always so great to ride with the team because we are pretty much like family. And on rides together, the boys push the girls and vice versa. They’re absolutely amazing,” she said.
“It’s also really cool when the younger age groups in our team come in with 1st, 2nd or 3rd places, so then we push ourselves to try and keep that going throughout the older age groups,” she added.
Van Wyk is eager for her race, despite her nerves around exam pressure. “I’m really excited about KZN Champs. To be honest, I’m a lot more nervous than before because I am in the middle of exams. But my school has been really supportive so it’s helped a lot,” she said.
Aside from Mankele MTB Park, Van Wyk says Cascades is one of her favourite tracks. “Tim (Keep) has been such a role model, he has so much knowledge and I have learned so much from him, especially all the technical knowledge. This is what originally drew me to all of the tech stuff. And for me Cascades isn’t just single track, it isn’t just one thing. It’s a bit of everything. So I really can’t wait,” she concluded.
Online pre-entries are now open, and close on Wednesday 27 May. Click here to enter: http://www.roag.co.za/eventinfo.aspx?EventID=1472. Late entries will be accepted at registration with a nominal charge of R50 in addition to the entry fee.
Entrance for spectators is free, and all are welcome to attend to watch some spectacular mountain bike racing.