As the end of the month draws nearer, so does the second annual Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at Cascades MTB Park, taking place this year from Friday 30 April to Monday 2 May. Thrown into the mix of thrilling mountain bike action, is the UCI Junior World Series XCO event, where the young up-and-comers will be able to gain important UCI points and a favourable seeding for the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE) from 28 June to 3 July.
Although the PMB MTB Festival XCO is a once-off event that falls outside of the national Stihl 2016 SA MTB Cup Series, Team Contego’s Jarrod van den Heever hopes to continue his strong form with his eye on the Junior World Champs later this year.
Van den Heever, who currently lies second in the local Series Log after three events, said: “Things are going good in the SA Cup Series – I am hoping for a top three this year, but to get the win is the main aim.”
Although rather skilled in the road discipline as well, Van den Heever feels that cross-country is where his heart is. “I do enjoy myself on the road, and I've gotten quite a few good results there. I feel that if I lose my passion in the one discipline, I could easily move over to the next,” he added.
In the off-season, the 17-year-old spends time on his Enduro bike to practise his skills set. “I also do it just to remind myself of why I'm riding. It clears my mind of other things like school,” he laughed.
Appreciative of the time he has been afforded to travel the country, Van Den Heever is also grateful of his time spent abroad: “I've travelled around South Africa for fours years and have seen almost the whole of the country, which has been awesome to experience because not everyone can get to do so.
“This year we decided to go a bit further, to Europe to countries like Germany and Italy. I've just completed my European trip and got some awesome results that I’m very proud of. Racing in Europe is a totally different ball game, I’m very happy to have gained some experience from racing there. I have competed in four races so far at Cascades and I also stayed there for a week last year to go watch the PMB MTB Festival where I took part in the Enduro race.”
Although having taken part in cross-country and Enduro events at Cascades before, Van den Heever will only be focusing on cross-country this year in order to claim favourable UCI points and is hoping to be selected for the Junior World Champs.
Van den Heever currently lies 19th in the UCI Junior Men World XCO rankings (As per UCI Website 5 April 2016).
Other mountain bike events that will be held over the course of the weekend at the PMB MTB Festival are:
Saturday 30 April
UCI Junior World Series XCO
UCI Elite XCO HC
Sunday 1 May
SA Marathon Championships Masters 30+
Monday 2 May
KZN Inter-Schools MTB Series
The Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival takes place at Cascades MTB Park from 30 April to 2 May 2016 and forms part of the greater Africa Bike City project in Pietermaritzburg. The legacy project and continued development of the venue of Cascades MTB Park as well as staff, cyclists and officials strengthens the local resource pool as we build towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games. For more information on the 2016 PMB MTB Festival, click here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-pmb-mtb-festival/.