SA MTB Team touches base ahead of Continental Champs (RWA)

The 2015 African Mountain Bike Continental Championships takes place in Musanze, Rwanda, from 8-10 May. The South African Mountain Bike XCO team is ready and excited to race this weekend. Members of the team talk about preparation, training, injuries, and experiences ahead of this weekend’s race.

2014 African Continental Champion, Phillip Buys (Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB), who recently injured his shoulder at the third leg of the SA XCO Cup in Mpumalanga, is still excited to race, despite the pain. “My shoulder is quite painful still with certain movements on the bike, but luckily the track here isn’t too rough. Mentally, I’m still super keen and motivated to race hard. My injury only had me off the bike for three days, so the legs should still be good. I’m just going to strap my shoulder well for the race and work through the extra pain,” he said.

Rourke Croeser (Full Dynamix Pro Team) who has recently returned home, chatted about his mindset after riding in Europe for a month. “Europe has been an eye opener. I have been through good and bad times. Mentally I am a lot more confident in my ability to perform at the top level,” said Croeser.

Taking a break from cycle talk, SA Champ and 2014 African Continental MTB women’s winner Mariske Strauss (Novus OMX Pro Team) says that she loves her adventures in the country, and has only good things to say about her stay in Rwanda so far. “I absolutely love Africa,” she said.

When being asked about her favourite experience, Strauss had this to say: “I don’t think I can pin point one in particular, but we did go into town on Tuesday, and what an experience that was! The people here are super friendly and I feel so safe here. All-in-all it’s just phenomenal. I also love how neat and clean the farmlands look.”

Women’s Elite rider, Cherie Vale (Novus OMX Pro Team), is enjoying her time in Rwanda, and appreciating every moment ahead of the racing. “I am not sure exactly how I feel about racing this weekend at the Continental Champs. I am trying not to let the pressure get to me and just enjoy being on my bike pushing my limits. Being in Rwanda reminds me how simple life can be and how we take things for granted,” she said.

U23 rider Brendon Davids (Kargo Pro MTB Team), who claimed the 2013 ACC U23 title, spoke about training and preparation ahead the Champs. “Training has been really good up to this point. I’m back at full health and feel really good going into this weekend. I’m very fortunate to be part of the KZN EADP program, which allows me to train in the Hypoxic/Altitude Chamber. This has made the transition into the altitude here in Rwanda pretty seamless. I’ve spent some time both on the course and the surrounding roads in the area. The locals are super friendly, always greeting with a smile from ear to ear,” he said.

2014 Continental U23 MTB Champ, James Reid (Team RECM), will be racing in the Elite Men’s category this year, and discusses the track: “The track is quite simple – nothing too technical and not much climbing so its going to make for quite a tactical fast race. I think the average speed per lap is going to be quite high and it’s going to be a lot more close. The gaps are going to be quite small as there’s going to be bunch racing for a while. There’s one long climb, which is about five minutes out the back, which is likely to be the deciding part of the race.”

Reid mentioned that the rest of the track is made up of narrow single tracks, roots and rocks, and is quite wet and slippery due to the tropical weather.

“I think everybody wants to win. Continental – it’s a title race so you’re racing to be the Continental Champ, which makes it quite special. I’m really looking forward to it,” he concluded.”

Schedule of events – 2015 African MTB Continental Championships (as per event website )

Friday 8 May 2015:
09:00-12:00 Official training day

Saturday 9 May 2015:
09:00 Junior Men
09:03 Junior Women
11:00 Masters
13:00 Citizen

Sunday 10 May 2015:
09:00 Elite Women
11:00 Elite Men

To view the race map and elevation profile, click here:

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