- The greatest mountain biker of all time, shows us how he trains at home, in KZN
- At an age where he should not even be qualifying for World Cup races, Minnaar often dominates them
- He defies the extreme sport stereotype of youth
Extreme mountain biking is not a sport of longevity. The speeds are high and crashes, frequent.
When you involuntary dismount from your downhill bike, there is nowhere soft to land. Boulders, roots, trees and rock gardens. Choose your impact point. It is going to have consequences.
Despite the odds against him increasing with age, Pietermaritzburg’s Greg Minnaar returns to elite level downhill mountain biking each year. And he’s not merely there as a legacy athlete. He’s riding to win.
Minnaar turns 40 later this year, which makes him a decade past the prime for downhill mountain biking. He should have retired years ago. But he hasn’t.
A rider who changed mountain biking
He holds the record for most World Cup downhill wins, at 22. And his influence on mountain biking reaches way beyond the podium.
Minnaar has been a powerful innovator, developing better bikes and components. His success on Santa Cruz’s carbon-fibre V10 downhill bike proved that composites could be reliable in the punishing realm of extreme mountain biking. The same validation applies to carbon-fibre wheels. Once Minnaar was winning on them, they became widely adopted by the broader extreme mountain biking community.
A typically large South African athlete, Minnaar’s greatest contribution to mountain biking design has been making better bikes for really tall riders. Stretching reach numbers and wheelbase dimensions, way past conventional design parameters.
With the UCI World Cup downhill mountain bike season scheduled to start this weekend, in Leogang (Austria), Minnaar will be presiding over the steep and fast alpine track, with a meaningful presence.
His offseason training has not been ideal, but as the video below illustrates, Minnaar has incredible commitment, which enables him to defy age.