MastersFive.jpg

Ready for action! Masters riders enjoying the camaraderie of the first training day of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Dave Macleod/Gameplan Media

2013M1JimmyRamage.jpg

“This is the first time I have ridden the course since July and it has not changed a lot” said Pretoria rider Jimmy Ramage, who made the trip down from Pretoria a few days early to familiarise himself with the course on the opening day of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg before he takes part in the Men's 50-54 Cross Country event.

Photo: Kyle Gilham/Gameplan Media

Riding in humid overcast conditions both tracks were in demanding fast condition, with most riders approaching the day cautiously and carefully scrutinising the tough technical elements of the courses.

Pretoria based riders Jimmy Ramage and Sean Rossouw have been scouring the course inch by inch to find the quickest ways through certain sections.

“This is the first time I have ridden the course since July and it has not changed a lot” said Pretoria rider Jimmy Ramage, who had been riding with fellow Pretoria rider Sean Rossouw trying to find the fastest lines through the key sections.

“The difference is that when I was last here the climbs were the same but the course was longer and now the course is shorter but the climbs are the same length!” he said light-heartedly.

“I have been involved in a lot of endurance riding in the past but this is very different due to the fact that the course here is short and tough and the technical stuff is a lot more challenging,” Rossouw mentioned.

The two Pretoria locals have been very impressed by the course and feel that they really could not pass up this opportunity because it is so close to where they are based.

Local rider and Scottsville Primary School teacher Michelle Speirs had a tough run on her opening day of practice but is looking to her history in Enduro riding to pull her through when she takes part in the women’s downhill for 35 – 39 year olds.

“I had four runs today and I fell off a couple of times which was not fun but it is all part of the experience.

“I have only been riding downhill for about three weeks now but I really could not take this opportunity and I ride Enduro – which is very similar to downhill just on a cross country bike.

2013M1MylesKelsey.jpg

Having been to many world Champs before, local downhiller Myles Kelsey got some important practise in on the opening day of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Kyle Gilham/Gameplan Media

The Pietermaritzburg local has been riding the course hard in order to prepare for the event and although she has an apparent lack of experience on a downhill bike her intentions are not to make up the numbers.

“Today I got a little bit of a fright but I am going to go home and get ready to come out again tomorrow and do the same.

“This is a serious competition and I am not here for nothing, I want to do as well as I can and I think being a local means that I can because of my experience on this course.

“The bike that I am riding now is not quite as responsive as my cross country bike and there is a lot more pedalling involved in downhill but it is a challenge that I am really looking forward to,” Speirs added.

There has been an incredible amount of traffic on the course over the past day and this has meant that a lot of the riders were taking their runs a little more cautiously later in the afternoon than in the morning.

“The course has become a little more treacherous as the day has gone on and more and more people have been riding on it.

“There are some patches on the downhill course were the gravel is quite loose and we have to take it a little slower through there than we would like to,” said a wary Speirs.

Shortly after the start of the practice section Frenchman Michel Stephane came unstuck below Cloud 9 on the Downhill course and was rushed to St Anne's hospital with a suspected fracture above his ankle.

Late in the afternoon local rider Cobus Slabbert crashed spectacularly on the tough final descent on the cross country course, somersaulting over his handlebars landing on his back injuring ribs in the process.

CobusCrash.jpg

Cobus Slabbert crashed heavily late in the afternoon practice session on the opening day of the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg.

Photo: Dave Macleod/Gameplan Media

Thursday sees both downhill and cross country riders heading out onto the course for their second and final day of training before the competition starts officially on Friday.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from21 to 25 August. More information can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za