Biggest Schools mountain bike event ever hosted in Africa

Hartebeespoort High School played host to the biggest school cross-country mountain bike event ever to be hosted in South Africa, when more than 500 cyclists competed in the Anatomic Spur School Mountain Bike League race this weekend.

The 4km track proved a challenge for the riders and the medical team on site treated no less than 37 riders and quite a few bikes needed serious attention.

The sub-juniors and the youth men had to complete three laps, while the ladies had to complete two. The junior men had to battle it out over four laps and the women had to race three laps.

A total of 75 schools took part in the first event of the season with some teams fielding more than 40 riders in an effort to secure top spots on the leader board. The top 25 cyclists in the men’s category receive points on a sliding scale from 26 points for the winner to 2 points for the 25th spot. Every other rider completing the race received a point for his or her school. The top 10 girls in each race are awarded points on a sliding scale from 11 to 2 sliding scale with a point per rider completing the race thereafter.

Defending champion for the past two years, Waterkloof High School, finished top of the log on Saturday with a total of 170 points, followed by Grey College with 143 points in second place and Centurion High in third with 124 points. The host school Hartebeespoort High made good use of their home field advantage and finished fourth with a total of 114 points.

The 81 riders participating in the Sub Junior Boys (13-14) provided exciting racing with the top three riders finishing within 25 seconds of each other. Hanno van der Walt of Hartebeespoort High finished first in a time of 00:43:09 with Murray James from Uplands College hot on his heels in a time of 00:43:15 and Enno Swanepoel of Lichtenburg High third in a time of 00:43:34. 

The Sub Junior girls category was won by Marlize Le Roux of Volkskool in Potchefstroom in a time of 00:43:20 followed by Ruth Avierinos of Cornwill Hill College in a time of 00:43:57 second and Lana Strydom of Helpmekaar College third in a time of 00:44:15.

Ninety-nine riders competed in the Youth Men 15 age group category with only one split second dividing the top two contenders. After a strong sprint to the finish Vincent Leygorie of Krugersdorp High School took line honours in a time of 00:40:17. Johan Hartzenberg of Hartebeespoort High finished in close second place in a time of 00:40:18 and Michael Ferreira of Bryanston High School third in a time of 00:41:56.

Ruth White from Standford Lake College was first in the Youth Women 15 Category in a time of 00:39:59, followed by Ame Venter of Dr. Malan in a time of 00:40:23 and Senae van Niekerk of Helpmekaar College third in a time of 00:41:08.

The Youth Men 16 Category saw Joel Hieber of Trinityhouse and Wade Prinsloo of Doxa Deo battling it out for the winning spot.  Joel won in a time of 00:38:12 with Wade second in a time of 00:38:57. Third place went to Neil Robinson, also of Trinityhouse, in a time of 00:40:26. A total of 108 riders competed in this category.   In the Youth Women 16 Category, it was Michelle Benson of Waterkloof High who took first in a time of 00:32:55, followed by Jessica Alcock of Doxa Deo in a close second in a time of 00:32:59.  Third place went to Janice Ventor of Waterkloof High in a time of 00:34:45.

It was all systems go when 124 junior men in the 17-18 age group set off on their four-lap race. Top favourite Dylan Rebello from Rand Park High took an early lead with Werner van Heerden, Ferdi Botha, Nicholas Popich and Tiaan van der Merwe chasing hard. However, after encountering technical problems in the final lap, Dylan had to carry his bike the rest of the way and finished in nineteenth position.

The serious battle continued amongst the top riders with Werner Van Heerden of Garsfontein High School finally taking line honours in a time of 00:52:21 with Ferdi Botha of Centurion High second in a time of 00:53:08 and Nicholas Popich from Waterkloof High in third in a time of 00:53:31. According to Werner, the course forced the riders to keep at it all the way.  He said that the singletrack sections required skill and focus, while the riders had to make up time on the straits.

The Junior Women Category was won by Andri Coetzee of Transvalia High in a time of 00:53:23 followed by Tanya Kirstein of Volkskool in Potchefstroom second in a time of 00:57:12 and Jean-Marie van Dalen of Menlopark High third in a time of 00:58:17.

According to Gauteng league co-ordinator Deon Steyn, they could not have asked for a better start to the season. “The league has grown tremendously and we are excited about being part of the Spur School Mountain Bike League, which will see the top schools from all around the country compete for the national trophy at the finals to be hosted at Bekker School from 22-23 September.

“We were particularly impressed with the great sportsmanship amongst the riders and the healthy competition amongst the schools. I think we’re achieving our goal of growing the sport while at the same time providing a platform for kids to compete in a fun environment,” said Steyn.

He further commended schools such as Hartebeespoort High, who made their facilities available to the league for hosting events and said that this was clearly a win-win partnership.

The 2012 Spur School Mountain Bike League features more than 40 events around the country with the top ten schools from each region qualifying for the finals.

Click here for the full results.

Click here for the points log after one race.

Upcoming events for August include:

  • 03.08 St George's College – Windhoek (NAM)
  • 04.08 Aug Penryn School – Nelspruit (MPU)
  • 04.08 Merrell Norm-Hudlin trail – Port Elizabeth (EC)
  • 04.08 Epworth School – Pietermaritzburg (KZN)
  • 04.08 Delvera Farm – Stellenbosch (WC)
  • 04.08 Brandkop – Bloemfontein (FS)
  • 18.08 Bekker High – Magaliesburg (GAU)
  • 18.08 Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve – Lydenburg (MPU)
  • 18.08 Pope's Ground – Maseru (LES)