By Heléna Cullis
South Africa’s top mountain bikers will descend on Nelson Mandela Bay as they compete in the second leg of the National Championships series on May 7 and 8.
This major event on the mountain biking calendar will provide plenty of action for spectators, casual riders and hard-core racers, and the Race Village in Walmer Downs (signs from William Moffett Expressway) will come alive with activity and entertainment for all. There will be races for novices and experts, with great spectator viewing points on both the Cross Country and Downhill courses.
“Some Eastern Cape riders have the potential to achieve top placings in their respective categories: Andrea Von Holdt, Jason Meaton, Charl Joubert, Marco Joubert, Roger Pheiffer, Charlie Jackson and Tony Thorburn for Cross Country and Wesley Augustyn is our local favourite for the Downhill” says Event Co-ordinator, Brad Jackson. They will also be vying for selection for the South African team and to participate in the World Champs in Champery, France
The CSA (Cycling South Africa) Mountain Bike Super Series consists of four XC (Cross country) and DH (Downhill) events throughout the year. These events are geographically spread throughout South Africa in order to give all the riders a fair opportunity to compete and earn points towards the title of CSA Super Series Champion as well as vying for selection for the South African team. This year CSA decided to award the second leg of the Series to Mountain Events in the Nelson Mandela Bay.
The venue for the Cross Country race on Saturday May 7 is the Baakens Valley, with the Race Village (Start & Finish zone) located at the EP Badminton Hall in Walmer Downs. The Cross Country event sees riders racing head-to-head around the 6km course, completing a preset number of laps. This format makes for great spectator viewing as you will get to see the riders pass the same spot several times.
The Downhill race will be held on Sunday May 8 at the Loerie Ruskamp resort, which is just a 40-minute drive from Port Elizabeth. The Downhill discipline takes the form of a time-trial with riders starting at the top of the mountain at one-minute intervals. They race down a purpose-built course filled with features like jumps, berms and drop-offs, reaching speeds in excess of 60km/h. This event is an adrenaline-feast for riders and spectators alike.
“The course is brand new and has been built in spectacular surroundings with the Finish line alongside a waterfall. It is the first permanent downhill course in the region and we believe this venue will become a favourite for downhill riders in the Eastern Cape” says Event Co-ordinator, Julie Briggs.
Cross Country and Downhill racing in particular are spectator-friendly disciplines of mountain biking and will provide for some great entertainment. Spectator access is free and there are designated spectator viewing points at the most interesting and challenging sections of the courses. “We’d like to see the public coming out to support the riders” says Julie Briggs. “In order to cover these expenses we are inviting companies to come on board as sponsors. Our intention is to host a top class event and to ensure that we remain a host venue of choice for future years” says Brad Jackson.