Queen of the mountains

2012-08-04 00:00

ESTON — The talented young Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt (BMC SA) will be hoping to go one better when she tackles this year’s Illovo Eston MTB Challenge tomorrow, after a solid effort by the youngster in 2011 saw her claim the runner-up medal behind renowned female mountain biker Candice Neethling.

Despite being more familiar with cross-country, Parker-Moffatt has produced some commendable performances in marathons previously and will once again be hoping she can string together a winning performance at Eston Club in KZN this weekend.

The 2012 cross-country season has seen the exciting young rider from Pietermaritzburg take the quantum leap from juniors to under-23, and with the increase in intensity on the track, her work rate off it has improved as well.

“It’s been a big change for me this year. Just the added time on the bike in cross-country races has been quite a challenge. Now, when you’re already tired and are nearing what would have been the finish of the race in juniors, you’ve now still got an extra half-an-hour or an extra lap or two to go, which has really been difficult,” said Parker-Moffatt.

“I’ve tended to fade away a little towards the end of the race because of it, so I’ve really been trying to work hard on my endurance recently, along with doing a lot of strength training in the gym.

“As a junior you get to enjoy the limelight, but then, when you step up into the under-23s, you get knocked back down to size pretty quickly.

“I’ve really enjoyed the new challenge. It’s been tough, especially with us racing with the elite women … and I’ve definitely learnt a lot from it already,” she said.

While marathon racing presents a whole new challenge, Parker-Moffatt may well still be able to draw on her cross-country experience during tomorrow’s race, particularly as she looks for that added bit of explosiveness early on, as she challenges for the Queen of the Mountains hotspot prize.

“It would be great to get the prize. However, looking at the overall race, you’ve got to be really careful you don’t go out too hard at the start, because you really need that little bit left in the legs in the last 10 kilometres or so when the race is really on,” said the BMC SA athlete.

“I really enjoy the track at Eston. There’s a lot of single track there that I don’t often ride, and the course definitely gives the legs a good stretch, especially through the fast, flat sections. Candice [Neethling] beat me last year, so it would be really cool to win it this year. There are some tough girls in the field. Nedene [Cahill], Natalie [Bergstrom] and Bridgette [Stewart] are all great riders. So we’ll just have to see how the legs feel on Sunday,” she said.

More information can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za.

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