According to league co-ordinator, Meurant Botha of Amarider participation at local events is growing at a steady pace as schools accept mountain biking as a recognized sport - some going as far as building dedicated tracks on school grounds to encourage after school practices and interschool sports days as well as employing coaches and managers to oversee teams.
“Word on the street has it that the top teams are in full training mode in preparation for the 2016 season as competition becomes more intense year on year. To many riders, it’s not just about hopping onto the bike anymore, but rather honing skills, upping the fitness levels and working on the mental toughness that is required to follow dreams of becoming pro riders,” says Botha.
Although there are many kids finding their competitive edge on their bicycles, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League’s focus is still to encourage “more kids on bikes, more schools in action”. It is important for all children to enjoy participating whether only starting out or having participated for a couple seasons.
This year has seen the introduction of Team Spur, James Reid and Ariane Kleinhans, who play the important role of encouraging League riders to follow their dreams and showing the reality of becoming sponsored athletes. Between competing at their various competitions, they have been mingling with keen riders, sharing valuable tips from how to better skills to handling pressure and form a vital part of the Spur Schools MTB League as they set the tone as role models for the young riders.
For those new to the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League, the League is a programme focused on growing the number of children on mountain bikes by running interschool mountain biking races around the country.
The League consists of 11 South African regions including neighbouring African countries Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho. Around 60 events take place from May to the season-ending National Final in Magaliesburg in October.
The racing format takes place on a marked track, generally over school fields and dedicated trails, where riders have to complete a certain amount of laps of a course that ranges between 2km-6km. The distance that needs to be covered is in accordance to the South African Schools Cycling Association rules and regulations.
Each region hosts four events with the exception of the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga who each host three events in their respective regions along with a final. With the larger regions recording over 600 participants, competition is fierce to earn the coveted selection to the National Final.
The League is facilitated by Amarider, a trails advocacy organization aimed at improving trail opportunities in Southern Africa. The organization uses the League not only to introduce young riders to trails, but also to develop the technical trail riding skills that will make the trails environment a safer and more enjoyable space. In addition Amarider also provides the necessary support to build local advocacy capacity and develop the regional coordinator teams.
The founding sponsor of the League, Spur Steak Ranches has again committed to a bigger and better season. “Seeing the continued growth of the program is something we as Spur Steak Ranches are very proud of and we are committed to ensure the further development of the League going forward,” said Adam Deane, Brand Activation Manager.