Keep gradually gaining Karkloof experience

2018-05-22 06:00
Young Silverback Volvo star Tiffany Keep is hoping that she can continue her growth as a mountain biker when she takes on the aQuellé 40 km Marathon at the upcoming Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival over the weekend of May 27 and 28.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Young Silverback Volvo star Tiffany Keep is hoping that she can continue her growth as a mountain biker when she takes on the aQuellé 40 km Marathon at the upcoming Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival over the weekend of May 27 and 28.PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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YOUNG, up-and-coming mountain biking and road racing star Tiffany Keep will be lining up for the 40 km
aQuellé Half Marathon at the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival on Sunday, May 27 as the 17-year-old patiently builds up her racing experience.

Keep, who recently finished second in the aQuellé Tour Durban road race, has been taking the road cycling world by storm, but was quick to clarify where her priorities lie on the bicycle.

“Mountain biking is definitely my main discipline,” the Silverback Volvo athlete said. “This year there have been a lot more road races than MTB races so that is why I have been on the road a lot more.

“As much as I enjoy road racing, I am using it to gain experience in racing against older women.”

The Thomas More pupil could quite easily take on the top ladies in the 60 km Sappi Marathon at the Karkloof Classic, but despite being tempted she felt that there was no need to rush into the full marathon at her age.

“I am always up for a challenge and racing in the 60 km marathon would have been a huge challenge — it is probably one of the toughest marathons in KZN.

“The 40 km half marathon is also going to be tough and I think that it also includes a lot of the same features as the full marathon so it will be a good test.”

Keep’s pedigree speaks for itself when you look at her MTB record which includes both marathon and cross country victories around the country.

At the 2017 Illovo Eston MTB Challenge, one of the last major marathon events of the year in KZN, it was just the might of Bianca Haw that kept Keep from the top step of the podium against a field that included defending Sappi Karkloof champion Natalie Bergstrom.

Her record at Karkloof has been a stifled one due to her absence over the last few years, with sickness preventing her from getting to the start line.

Despite never having won a Karkloof title, Keep knows the trails well enough to understand where her strengths and weaknesses lie.

“The single track at Karkloof is incredible and that is an area where I am going to be the most comfortable.

“There are some tough climbs but I don’t really mind that as long as there is a nice downhill section on the other side,” said Keep. “I don’t really enjoy the district road sections, I would much rather be riding over rocks than on a road!” Keep saw the jump from the 20 km aQuellé Fun Ride to the 60 km marathon as quite a serious leap, so she settled on the 40 km half marathon, a race that she should get through without too much competition. Testing herself becomes the next challenge, so an overall top 10 is the simple goal. “I like to race against the guys and see how I can do. They race a lot more aggressively and that is something that I enjoy and need to get used to so the guys ahead of me will become my targets at Karkloof. It gives me good motivation when I race so I always look forward to testing myself,” said Keep.

The 2018 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival takes place at the Karkloof Country Club on Saturday, 27 and Sunday, May 28. More info can be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za - Supplied

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