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59 year old Kloof local Frances Marsburg is the oldest female in the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships but does not look at her age as being a burden and is taking this unique opportunity with both hands and is hoping to gain vast experience from the whole event.

Photo: Supplied/Gameplan Media

It could be seen as a prestigious achievement to be the oldest person in the field but both Smith and Marsburg are raring to get onto the cross country course a little later this week. The Kloof local's decision to enter the event was taken at the 11th hour but she believes she is prepared but nervous for what the course has in store for her.

“I am really really looking forward to the World Champs,” the former road rider said. “It was a last minute decision to enter the event and I didn’t know that it was an international event but this really doesn’t happen often so I just thought I would go with the chance to compete in an international event!”

The shift to mountain biking only came recently after quite a long relationship with road cycling and Marsburg feels that she is a lot better off for making the switch to the off road bike.

“I have probably been involved in mountain biking for about four or five years. I was a road cyclist for a long time before then but left it because a lot of people told me that mountain biking was a lot more sociable and more fun.

“I also felt that mountain biking was a beautiful way of seeing the country.

“I love mountain biking, it has become my passion and this event is a real opportunity for me to just go out there and have some fun,” said Marsburg enthusiastically. “With mountain biking I have been able to surprise myself and that is something that I really enjoy about the sport and hopefully I can do that when I get on the Cascades course.”

For Smith the chance to take part in such a competitive event was too enticing and it was his son, Petrus, that entered him into the competition. The 74 year old will be joined by four others in the over 70’s category for what could be an exciting race.

Smith does not see his involvement in the competition, despite his age, as an achievement but rather as a great opportunity that he couldn’t miss.

“I have been preparing really hard. I have been in the gym and doing a lot of riding,” the Gauteng resident mentioned.

“I have been riding mountain bikes seriously for about six years now but also do a lot of road riding after my doctor told me I needed to ride more because I had knee surgery from running.”

The competitive edge is something that Smith does not lack and that rubs off on his ambitions for the World Champs. He has achieved a second place in the 70+ division of the South African Road Cycling Champs and is looking to go one better at the MTB Masters World Champs.

“I got silver on the road bike in the national championships but my motivation is even greater for these World Champs – I am going there to win it!

“It is quite difficult in Gauteng because there is no age group for me to ride in so I have to ride in the over 60’s category and I have won a few races in that category so I think I have what it takes to win in Pietermaritzburg,” he added confidently.

There is no end in sight for the cycling career of Michael Smith who plans to return to Pietermaritzburg again in 2014 when the globe’s MTB community turns its attention towards the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships.

“I have been training really hard this year and I want to race again in the Marathon Worlds next year as well,” Smith said.

The UCI MTB & Trials World Championships take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August - 1 September and are preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 - 25 August 2013. Tickets for the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships can be purchased via www.roag.co.za and more information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za