City hosts mountain biker champs

2008-03-11 00:00

Pietermaritzburg will host the 2008 Mountain Bike Championships in the Cascades and Ferncliffe forests this weekend. This race follows the hugely successful IntakaTech Cycle Challenge held in Pietermaritzburg in February and the Sani2C, which took place three weeks ago.

There will be various races for age and gender divisions with two courses to choose from. Both courses (a cross-country and a downhill course) will be adrenaline-pumping action for all riders as they negotiate trees and drop down steep bumpy hills.

The first race starts at 8 am and the elite race starts at 12 pm. Crowds will be able to view the race now that most of the trees have been cut down.

Kim Phillips, who has been building and designing national courses for the past five years, has designed both the cross-country and downhill courses.

He described the cross-country course as having "technical and tricky climbs" through the forest. The course is six kilometres long and has been built in a loop format.

Familiar faces to look out for in the cross-country race are 17-year-old Burry Stander from Port Shepstone, who recently came out as one of the top mountain bike riders at the Sani2C.

Amy-Jane Mundy, from Hillcrest and current SA women’s mountain bike champ in the cross country section, said that she is going all out this weekend to defend her title.

Mundy also competed in the Sani2C race with partner Tania Roots and came second.

The downhill course is dangerous because it is done at very high speed, especially when riders get closer to the finish. "Riders reach top speeds of around 70 km/h as they near the finish," said Phillips.

City-born former world champion Greg Minaar will be competing in the race. Though he has only been back on the riding circuit for the past three weeks after having had surgery done on his shoulder, he took part in the Sani2c event with world downhill mountain bike champ Steve Peat.

Minaar said that he has hopes of reclaiming his title this weekend.

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