Pietermaritzburg – Participants of the mountain bike aspect of the exciting new three prong CSA KZN All Africa Challenge, which takes place in Pietermaritzburg from 25-30 April, will be treated to a feast when they are given the opportunity to try their hand at various new MTB disciplines.
Stirred by the frenzy of activity which arose from the success of local downhill hero Greg Minnaar and cross country star Burry Stander at the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup the MTB which took place at Cascades MTB park a month ago the MTB world will once again head for the Maritzburg based facility in two weeks’ time however this time with a slightly lesser knowledge of what lies ahead.
Although those in Europe and America may be familiar with the concept of enduro racing as well as the cross country eliminator these ideas are somewhat new to the South African mountain biking community, until next weekend that is.
“We always catch onto these things a little slowly here,” said renowned local track builder Nick Floros. “Full credit to the CSA KZN All Africa Challenge though for being able to bring these fresh ideas to the MTB community of South Africa.”
“All the new challenges and race types help keep things fresh and keeps people interested in MTB.”
Enduro racing is an interesting hybrid of cross country and downhill racing with elements of the two being fused together in a manner which enables riders of various abilities to take part in this MTB phenomenon.
“Enduro caters for a large percentage of the MTB community because there aren’t any big jumps and your wheels are on the ground for around 90% of the time,” said Floros.
“Everyone starts at the finish line at the bottom of the course and have to make their own way up to the start unassisted, therefore you may not be given a lift by a vehicle or anything else for that matter.”
“You have to get yourself up to the top by riding or walking up with your bike. If you take ten minutes or an hour to do this is irrelevant.”
“The clock then starts when you start your first descend and it stops when you get to the bottom of the first descend stage. You then make your way up to the second start point, again unassisted, and again the clock starts at the beginning of your descend and stops when you cross the line at the bottom.”
“The winner of the event is the person with the shortest combined time of their two descents,” he added.
Despite what some may think though the downhill elements of this race type certainly aren’t what the likes of local downhill star Greg Minnaar and Andrew Neethling are familiar with.
“This is by no means a downhill competition. Yes, you are riding down a hill but you’re not doing so on a gnarly, highly technical downhill course by any means,” said Floros.
“You start higher than you finish but it is more of a cross country style descent rather than downhill racing. The guys will do a portion of the cross country course and the downhill course from the world cup but obviously only the tamer sections.”
“Your average rider, the ‘weekend warrior’ if you like, whose fairly technically competent but doesn’t have the fitness for a Classic would be perfectly suited to this sort of event,” he added.
Whilst there haven’t been many enduro events in held in South Africa previously, this weekend’s Mr Price Karkloof Classic does have and enduro race in its programme which Floros hopes will help ignite the enduro interest in the MTB world.
“We’re hoping all goes well there and then the guys will know a little more about what enduro racing is all about and will be at our event next weekend as well,” said Floros.
“These sorts of things always take a little while to catch on here in SA and stage racing is the popular trend in amongst our MTB community at the moment but it’s such an exciting race and we’re really looking forward to it. I just wish I could go out there and take part in the ride as well!” he added.
With the dust hardly having settled after the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup, Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg will once again be descended upon by South Africa's MTB community in a less than two weeks' time when the CSA KZN All Africa MTB Challenge, part of the CSA KZN All Africa Challenge, takes place on 28 & 29 April.
Darren Goddard /Gameplan Media
The inclusion of the rapidly developing cross country eliminator in the event’s programme will also give local riders a rare opportunity to get a feel for the most recently included discipline on the 2013 UCI MTB World Cup calendar.
“The eliminator is another exciting race format we’ve included in this programme. It’s such a short, sharp style of racing over a very compact and spectator friendly type of track that riders just have to go flat out the minute the gun goes,” said Floros.
“It’s almost like a flat four-cross type event with no single track at all which means there are plenty of overtaking opportunities. It’s a really exciting concept and if there’s a good turnout then it should be absolutely awesome!” he added.
Staged over a course of between 700m and 1200m, unlike its predecessor cross country Olympic, the cross country eliminator enables spectators to watch all the drama unfold from just one or two points around the course.
“There is loads in it for the spectators,” said Floros. “Cross country is pretty spread out which means spectators have to go to one or two points where a lot of the action happens whereas now they’re able to see the entire race and how everything unfolds throughout the race.”
The third and final string to the CSA MTB All Africa MTB Challenge’s bow the Classic, with a twist, which takes place on Sunday 29 April also at Cascades MTB park.
“Sunday’s race should also be a great event, especially with the slight change we’ve made to the race format. We’ve opted to go with a 15km loop which riders will do either once, twice or three times depending on the distance they chose to take part in,” said Floros.
“For the 45km Classic guys this means that they will be able to ride the route once and by the time they go around a second time they will be a lot more familiar with things and so will really be able to have a bit of a go on the second and third laps.”
“All in all it should be a great weekend for MTB and cycling in general!” he added.
The CSA KZN All Africa MTB Challenge, which along with the SA National BMX Championships and the SA National Track and Para Cycling Championships make up the CSA KZN All Africa Challenge, take place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 April. More info can be found at www.cyclingsa.com