Bergstrom back for MTB race in PMB

2013-06-27 00:00

SOUTH African masters cross-country mountain biking pocket rocket Natalie Bergstrom (Coffeeberry/Momsen) has overcome her recent knee injury in time to give the final two months of her preparations for the 2013 UCI MTB Masters World Championships at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 21 to 25 a full go.

Since blasting onto the local mountain biking scene in 2011, Bergstrom has claimed countless overall women’s’ race titles, particularly in her home province, KwaZulu-Natal. But August’s event, which precedes the 2013 UCI MTB & Trials World Championships Pieter­maritzburg at the same venue, will be the KZN North Coast star’s first showing at the international masters showcase.

“I’ve never ever ridden in a World Champs before, so to race at August’s event will be an absolute dream come true and the fact that it is on home soil, and at a venue that I know incredibly well, is just the cherry on the top for me,” said Bergstrom.

“This is only the third year that I’ve been racing competitively, which is pretty short in comparison to a lot of others, so this is the first, and probably the last time, I’ll ever get the chance to race at World Champs, so I just cannot wait!”

With the notorious Tree House rock garden at Cascades having got the better of her in the past, Bergstrom recalls how on that ill-fated day she decided it was “now or never” to overcome her mental block, a decision that so nearly cost her global debut.

“I was training on the rock garden at Cascades, which isn’t even part of the Masters course for World Champs, but I just decided it was time to conquer my fears of it,” explained Bergstrom. “I had successfully ridden it a couple of times already and on my third or fourth time my foot clipped a rock towards bottom and off I came. I bounced down the rest of the way, landing on my ankle and knee on every rock possible, and immediately I knew it wasn’t good.

“After seeing a physio they were initially worried I had done serious damage to the cartilage in my kneecap and that I may even need surgery.

“Fortunately, after nine days of strapping and physio treatment though the swelling went down and they were able to determine there wasn’t a chip or a break and that a bit of rest should see me back on the bike pretty soon,” she added with a relieved sigh.

Despite the injury impacting on her World Champs preparations — she has been put out of action entirely for two weeks and will have to take it easy for a further week — Bergstrom believes the time off the bike could possibly even have been a good thing, even though it was hugely concerning at the time.

While looking forward to the opportunity to compete on a global stage for the first time, the feisty competitor isn’t content with just competing and has her sights firmly set on the top step of the podium. She aims too at making the highly sought-after rainbow-striped world champion’s jersey of her 40-44 age category in the women’s cross-country her own.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at the Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from August 26 to September 1, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from August 21 to 25.

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