“Cross-country racing is the Olympic version of our sport and the US Pro XC series is the perfect platform to make a big impression internationally. I'm excited for this series - I’ve been working hard over the summer months and I'm happy with my form. With so few local teams supporting world-class cross-country racing, it’s my chance to fly the South African flag overseas and prove we have the talent in this discipline,” said the 21-year-old Reid.
Reid jets over to California to compete on a big stage indeed. His schedule involves two cross-country races and two short course races over three weeks. He will compete in Round 2 and 3 of the four-race US Pro XCT Cup series, with one of the events categorised as UCI Hors Category (HC) - the highest points category outside of the UCI World Cup Series. With the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this year Reid will be keen to impress South African selectors while inspiring others to persevere in mountain biking's shorter, more explosive, discipline.
“It’s going to be hard!" Reid admits. "There are around 20 World Cup-level guys expected to race. These are the top Elite category riders globally, guys like Dan McConnell (Trek Factory Racing) and Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing). With all the US riders too, there’s no doubt it’ll be tough. I've had good results in the early season and I feel things are going well. I’m hoping I'll have a few results to write home about.”
‘Going well’ is an understatement from the focused youngster. Reid is enjoying the most successful start to the season in his short career. In late January he won the U23 African Continental Championships title, posting the fastest lap times across all categories on the day. He followed that with victory at the EP Herald Ultimate Quest in Port Elizabeth and, more recently, the three-day DuToit Tankwa Trek, where he raced with fellow U23 rider Brendon Davids. He attributes his recent successes to a shift in attitude to training.
“Last year I hit a wall with my training," said Reid. "I realised if I'm going to succeed in the high-pressure world of professional racing, I need to look at what the best are doing. I decided to work with a friend in Europe to sharpen my race preparation and it has opened my mind to what's possible. So far, so good.”
"The cliché is true - a happy rider is a fast rider," Reid added. "I’ve been really happy with how things are going behind-the-scenes. I'm feeling confident on my Trek Superfly 9.9 SL, and have been well-supported by SRAM & RockShox components."
Trek South Africa wishes James Reid the very best of luck as he pits himself against the world's best mountain bikers. We have no doubt he will make South Africa proud.
2014 USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group March 1-2: Round 1 - Mellow Johnny's Class, Dripping Springs, Texas (C1) March 15-16: Round 2 - Bonelli Park, San Dimas, California (HC) March 23-24: Round 3 - Fontana, California (C1) June 14: Round 4 - Colorado Springs, Colorado (C1)
Photo credits - Zoon Cronje/XtremeMedia