Eight years into the Spur High Schools Mountain Bike League organisers are anticipating that more than 500 Southern African schools will be represented in the 2016 season, which will run from May to October.
Gauteng is leading the national log in terms of numbers boasting an impressive 2498 riders representing 83 schools in the 2015 season and a record 661 riders competing in the biggest regional one day event since the inception of the league. Gauteng also holds the title of Spur Schools Mountain Bike League Interprovincial Champions for the past three consecutive years. In another exciting venture, Cycle Lab, has joined the Gauteng team and will have certified skills instructors present during course practices to assist the learners.
This weekend the 2016 Gauteng season will kick off with the Spur Tour de Vaal – presented by Anatomic on Saturday, 21 May at Phoenix High School in Vereeniging. Online entries can be done via the MTBZA app at a cost of R95. Riders can also enter for all four Gauteng events at a fee of R340. Only learners from grade 8 to 12 from Gauteng High Schools are allowed to enter the league. As the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League is an inter-schools competition, home schoolers can unfortunately not qualify.
Registration will take place on Friday and the full route with all obstacles will be open for practice from 14h00 to 18h00. Learners need to register and have their number boards on their bikes before they can practice the route.
Coaches, teachers, parents and team managers will be allowed to inspect the route, but need to collect a special number board from registration before entering the course. ER24 will be present during the course practice on Friday.
Registration on Saturday will be at 07h00 with the first race for sub-junior boys setting off at 08h30, followed by all four girl categories (Sub Junior Girls; Youth 15 Girls; Youth 16 Girls and Junior Women) at 09h30, youth boys 15 at 10h30, youth boys 16 years at 11h30 and the junior men wrapping up racing at 12h30 with prize giving at 13h30.
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.
“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 and more schools in action. It is important for all children to enjoy participating whether only starting out or having participated for a couple seasons,” says Botha.
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.
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.
Also join our online community at @spurmtbleague on Instagram, @SpurMTBleague on twitter and The Spur High School Mountain Bike League on facebook.