Local riders will pull out all the stops on Saturday (17 September) when they take to the track at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch for the 2016 Western Cape regional finals to qualify for a spot in the national finals and the chance to compete against the top schools from around South Africa.

Fast start for the junior men in the Spur Schools MTB League.

Parel Vallei High School is top of the mixed and women’s logs and second on the men’s log, which has been dominated by Paul Roos Gymnasium since the inception of the league. DF Malan High School is holding the second position on the mixed and women’s logs, while Montana High School in Worcester is third in all three categories.

Since its humble beginnings with approximately 900 riders in 2009, the league has grown beyond expectations and featured 45 events, an estimated 500 schools and 10 000 MTB enthusiasts competing nationwide this year.

A joint initiative between Spur Steak Ranches and trail advocacy group Amarider, the League provides a powerful platform for promoting mountain biking at school level and beyond. The League is affiliated to South African Schools Cycling (SACS), which in turn is affiliated to Cycling SA as a development initiative particularly geared to create a platform for schools to compete against each other and, in doing so, raise the profile of the sport at school level.

According to league director, Meurant Botha of Amarider, participation at local events has shown a steady growth as schools accept mountain biking as a recognized sport - some going as far as employing coaches and managers to oversee teams and even building dedicated tracks on school grounds to encourage after school practices and interschool sports days.

“Although there are many kids finding their competitive edge on their bicycles, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League’s focus is still to encourage more kids on bikes, more schools in action. It is important for all children to enjoy participating whether only starting out or having participated for a couple seasons,” says Botha.

The League runs on the Olympic Cross Country (XCO) lap-racing format whereby participants complete a set number of laps, determined by age category, of a short mountain bike course. Lap distances are between three and five kilometres. A large number of league participants competed against each other in the 2016 XCO Championships, adding even more suspense to the upcoming Spur Schools MTB League Finals.

Over the years the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League facilitated various rider development programmes, has seen a definite increase in the number of female riders as well as logged an increased number of primary schools supporting the league.

This year has also seen the introduction of Team Spur, James Reid and Ariane Kleinhans, who play the important role of encouraging League riders to follow their dreams and showing the reality of becoming sponsored athletes.

The founding sponsor of the League, Spur Steak Ranches has again committed to a bigger and better season offering a R10 000 rand contribution to school teams that win their respective age categories at the National Inter-schools Finals. “Seeing the continued growth of the program is something we as Spur Steak Ranches are very proud of and we decided to offer this bonus to foster healthy competition and promote teamwork between riders and within schools, as well as increase increase participation across all skill levels and abilities, ” said Andrew Cronje, Spur Market Development Manager.

For more information and results visit www.spurmtbleague.co.za and be sure to follow the League on face book at SpurSchoolsLeague, twitter #spurMTBleague and @spurMTBleague.