The 2017 South African mountain bike season kicks off with its first Downhill National Cup Series race at the Helderberg trails in the Western Cape on Sunday 29 January. This forms part of the MTB Gravity Series taking place on the same weekend. South African National Downhill Champion, Stefan Garlicki chats about the course, his time off, and his plans for the 2017 season. Entries for the event are open and close on Tuesday 24 January.
“The Helderberg track is definitely one of the better tracks in the country,” said Garlicki. He described the course as a fairly decent length (close to three minutes long), with very loose conditions when it’s dry. “The dirt is quite powdery so it makes it quite tough and very slippery,” he added.
Garlicki mentioned that the conditions of the Helderberg track are right up his alley, but it doesn’t appeal to everybody. “You just need to be comfortable riding in extrememly loose conditions,” he said.
With not too many tight sections, lots of corners and great jumps, the Helderberg track always promises a fun ride.
Garlicki spoke briefly about hometown advantage: “Being a local always gives you a slight advantage, however you look at it. I haven’t ridden there since the national last year so in terms of actual practice time on the track I don’t think that’s really an advantage. Certainly not this year at least. Being at home also adds pressure because there is more of an expectation from the people around you to win or to do well because you’re at home. At the end of the day all you can really do is your best.”
“I just think that being at home, you kind of get a bit more confidence from having the local support and being in your comfort zone. In the past I have done a lot of riding there, so that could help.”
In the same breath however, Garlicki acknowledged the tough competition out there. “I’m not too sure of everyone that will be taking part just yet, but Johan Potgieter is always going to be quick,” he said. He went on to mention Ade van der Merwe, and also the Philogene brothers (Johnathan and Christopher) who are always impressing with their skills on the downhill track.
Garlicki will take to the tracks this weekend for the second time since September last year (first being the Western Province Provincial Cup at the weekend), and stressed the importance of taking a break: “It’s definitely time to get racing again, I’m itching to go. It’s always good after a season to have a nice break - mentally more than anything. But after a few months you start getting keen again to hear the beeps.”
Entries are open and close on Tuesday 24 January. To enter, click here: https://cyclingsa-events.co.za/app/
For more information about the event, click here: https://www.facebook.com/events/390646647935975/