Provincial XC Mankele, 1 March 2014

After the MTN Sabie Classic I stayed on in the Lowveld for a training camp at one of my favourite biking destinations – Mankele Bike Park. The 2nd round of the Mpumulanga Provincial XC series took place at Mankele and with the event being held “on my training doorstep” it was time to put my cross country skills to the test.

Although cross country and marathon racing are both mountain biking disciplines, there is a big difference between the two. Cross country racing involves lap racing on a fairly technical course, where riders complete 4-6 laps in under 2hours. This means cross country racing calls for lots of power and superb bike handling skills.

It was also a refreshing experience to be at a provincial race as these events are a bit smaller, drawing mainly locals.  In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere we had a mass start which saw all the ladies and men categories set off together. At first I was a bit nervous lining up alongside all the men, but it turned out to be great fun.

When it comes to Cross Country racing my biggest rival is normally the course, and if I am able to ride everything including the Bull runs (technical sections on the course which can be avoided by taking the longer and easier way around called the Chicken run) then I’ve came out on top and am happy with the result.

After 5 laps of the winding course and no crashes, I am pleased to say that I am happy with my resultJ. The race was a good training exercise forcing me out of my comfort zone which inevitably leads to improvement and will stand me in good stead. Winning the race was a great way to end off my stay in the Lowveld and I already look forward to my next visit.

Mark Meyer & Yolandi du Toit

It was also very encouraging seeing so many under 23 ladies taking part as it bodes well for

the future of woman’s mountain biking. That is exactly what these races are about and long may they prosper under the guidance of passionate people like the team at Mankele.

Upcoming events at Mankele:

22 March         Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge

9-12 April         Lowveld Quest Stage Race