The Knysna Pennypinchers/Coaches Corner Cycling cross-country series (XCO) kicked off at the NMMU Saasveld Campus outside George and was hosted by the George Hillbillies MTB Club. This was the first of five races in the South Western Districts Provincial Series presented by MyTracX.

With a number of local riders away to attend races in other parts of the country, the podium positions were wide open for contenders and this delivered some serious riding. The youngsters raced on a slightly shorter and less technical course with 8 year old Carlo Coetzee showing some of the older riders how it is done. In the Juniors Waldo van Niekerk (RE-CM) had a good day and was flowing through the single track finishing more than two minutes ahead of Donovan Walters with Andre de Goede in third place while Tayla Odendaal (Contego) finished almost seven minutes ahead of second placed Mikayla Olivier. But it was the Under 23 Class rider Jason Meaton (Coaches Corner Cycling) who moved to the front of the pack at the start where he stayed throughout the race to finish in total 1h29min54sec over five laps while also setting the best lap time, ahead of Elite riders Rob Dormehl and Ico Schutte. Hilana Marais was the fastest women to win in 1h29min33sec over four laps in the Elite Women while also setting the fastest lap time for women.

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Jason Meaton negotiating the single track at Saasveld

For those people not familiar, cross-country mountain biking is lap racing taking place on off road tracks, roads and single tracks. What makes this form of mountain biking exiting is the fact that it spectator friendly. Parents can stand along the route and cheer while the cyclists go around the track. It is often thought to be a discipline too difficult for most to ride but the 8 year old Carlo Coetzee and the lady cyclist older than 60 years proved this wrong. This is a fun event and for those too scared to ride with the serious riders can enter the fun class. This is a wonderful opportunity for the family to enjoy the outdoor and learn bicycling skills in a safe environment as these tracks are not on or near public roads.

With the next race at Witfontein on 21 April 2012 the competition is sure to intensify with leaders having to defend their positions. The series is still wide open as the best four races will determine who the winner of South Western Districts Provincial Series will be. During each event medals are awarded for the first three finishers in each category.

Anyone wishing to take part in the future events is welcome to do so. Spectators are also welcome and the riders enjoy the encouragement along the route. Cyclists not in possession of a Cycling SA licence can obtain one when entering the event. Entries for these races could be done on the morning of the race or online at www.mytrax.com . All the relevant information could also be obtained from the website.The other 4 remaining races will be taking place on:

  • 21 April at Cape Nature's Outeniqua Reserve at Witfontein just outside George.
  • 9 June on a brand new track on the Dormehl Farm at Barrington close to Karatara , which promises to be something spectacular.
  • 28 July will take the riders back to Saasveld where it will taking place on a different track with sections of the 2010 Nationals track added in.
  • 25 August will be held on a brand new track built by MytracX close to Denne-Oord in George.