Veteran mountain biker and South African National XCO Champion, Diana Carolin (Cycle Lab Tokai), is looking to increase her racing distance when she enters the 2016 SA MTB Masters Marathon Championships, which take place this year at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday 1 May. The Championship event forms part of the three-day Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival, from 30 April to 2 May.
Although only having ridden mountain bikes for the past five years, Carolin already has a National Championship title to her name, when she claimed the Veteran Women’s victory at the 2015 XCO Champs in Stellenbosch.
“At the moment I’m preferring the cross-country races and I’ve entered every National Cup race so far this season,” said the 40-year-old Capetonian who hails from Constantia. “I raced the marathon series two years ago and then crossed over to XCO. I love the technical stuff – that’s my strength and that suits me.”
With two years of marathon racing and a Cape Epic (2013) under her belt, Carolin is no stranger to the long distance races. “I raced the Marathon World Champs and National Champs that were held at Cascades in 2014 in the Elite category. It’s a tough course that is not for sissies and has many XCO elements in the course. It’s like doing a XCO over a marathon distance – it’s the perfect place to host a National Championship,” she said.
“The technical nature of the course suits me but I’m a little out of touch with marathon racing at the moment. I’ve got some longer events coming up which I’ll do in preparation for the Marathon Champs and see how the preparations go,” she said.
Coming from a horse riding background, Carolin swapped horsepower for pedal power at the age of 35. “I got to 35 and felt unfit and wanted to change that. I borrowed my dad’s bicycle and went for a ride in Tokai forest and haven’t looked back. This year, my goal is to win the SA XCO Cup Series and I’m currently on the top of the log after three races. It’s good to have goals – it’s what drives you to do better.”
While holding the title of SA XCO Champion this year, Carolin also claimed the bronze medal in her age group for the 2015 SA MTB Marathon Champs at Van Gaalen.
When she is not racing, Carolin says that her favourite place to ride her bicycle anywhere in the country would have to be KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. “I simply love the Mankele bike trails, and I recently went mountain bike riding in the Karkloof and the Howick area and I cannot wait to go back there for more. I just loved that!”
Recovering from sinusitis infection and having just completed a course of antibiotics, Carolin is looking to stretch her legs at a 45km race this weekend. “I have to alter my distance now because my focus has been on the XCO series this year,” she said. “I’m still quite new to the sport so I’m still setting myself goals and challenges to see what I can achieve.”
Over and above the 2016 SA MTB Masters Marathon Championship race on Sunday 1 May, there is also a 60-kilometre marathon for Open Men and Women, and a 20-kilometre fun ride for Open Men and Women categories.
Other mountain bike events that will be held over the course of the weekend 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/.