Hot and dry conditions together with a lot of cyclist traffic has forced course designers to close the track this weekend for general maintenance and final track touch ups ahead of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships which take place from 21-25 August at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media

With the combination of the dry KwaZulu Natal Midlands and hundreds of enthusiastic cyclists, particularly masters entrants eager to see what lies in store for them, having taken to the course over the past month, the courses have suffered expected general wear and tear which needs to be attended to ahead of the commencement of the international showcases.

Those keen to spend a last few hours familiarizing themselves with the routes beforehand only have the later part of this week, up until Thursday 15 August, to do so as no riders will be permitted on course during the period of Friday 16 August to, and including, Sunday 18 August.

“There has obviously been a lot of activity on the course recently so things are a little worn in one or two areas and need some minor attention whilst other sections we had always planned to change ever so slightly just before the event so that there is still a slight fresh element to the course for World Champs,” said Floros.

“Hence our need to shut down the courses to riders for a couple of days so we can do the few needed repairs and make the few subtle changes that have always been on the cards, without having to dodge cyclists or constantly worry about being hit by riders whilst we work.

“We’re really happy with how all the courses have turned out and if we can keep the traffic on the course to a minimum before the event begins then I really think we’re in for a fantastic event,” he added.

With word having spread of the masters cross country course, in particular, having been hit hardest by the dry conditions and heavy traffic, Floros has reassured all preparing for next week’s event that the trails are in tip-top condition after the recent intervention by Mother Nature.

“The trails were pretty powdery up until last week but the recent rains were an absolute gift and have really firmed up all those powdery sections perfectly.

“We had also done a bit of work on a couple of the features just before the expected rains and those too have really settled beautifully after the rains of a few days ago.”

Whilst the park is closed to cyclists, both masters and elite competitors seeking a venue for additional practise are encouraged to utilise the cross country course at the highly rated Karkloof trail network just outside Howick as well as the trails of the Howick region as well.

The Karkloof routes, which traverse Sappi’s plantations and the beautiful surrounding areas, are managed by the Karkloof Mountain Bike Club and all routes, including the cross country course, start and finish at the magnificent Karkloof Country Club.

Riders are simply required to sign a day indemnity form, pay the daily R30.00 per rider trail fee at the club and they are then able to utilise the facility for training whilst a coffee shop, hot showers and safe parking are also available at the club.

Those preferring to come to grips with the masters world champs course itself, will be able to do so by foot only during the temporary course closure and Floros and Hicks have encouraged all competitors to ensure they then spend a final few hours relooking the route post this weekend’s final touch-ups.

“We certainly won’t be making any major changes to the course this weekend. All the work we’ll be doing will just be subtle changes here and there to keep things fresh but this will mean guys’ lines may change slightly to those they have practiced so we strongly encourage everyone who will be competing to come walk the route once more after this weekend and just check your lines one last time.

“Also, if any is caught breaking tape, moving rocks or making any alterations at all to the course, they will be disqualified immediately from the event so we really are asking for everyone’s cooperation in this regard as well.”

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