The Para-cycling community will once again have the opportunity to participate with their able-bodied counterparts in two prestigious mountain biking championship events in KwaZulu-Natal in June 2014: the South African National MTB Marathon Championships on 8 June, and the inaugural Rainbow Challenge Final on 28 June.
Para-cycling was accommodated for the first time in the short-course, technical cross-country (XCO) discipline at the 2013 South African National MTB Championships in Port Elizabeth. Next month however, the endurance element will be tested in the National Championship and Rainbow Challenge marathon events.
2014 SA National MTB Marathon Championships (8 June):
Para-cyclists will be able to compete in two categories at the 2014 SA National MTB Marathon Championships, each with one set of medals at stake: Category 1 will include riders classified as C1, C2 and C3; and Category 2 will include riders classified as C4 and C5. This will apply to male and female riders. Para-cyclists wishing to register for the championships must be officially classified and have this indicated on their UCI licence issued by Cycling South Africa. Para-cyclists will compete on the 50km route.
World Championship trail builder, Nick Floros, describes the route from Cascades MTB Park: “Participants will leave Cascades and pass through a number of small landowners’ private land along the way. The route heads up to Mont Verde and towards Hilton College estate, where most of the route is located.”
The route passes through various private farms and Cycling South Africa and the race organisers extend their gratitude to these landowners. It is however critical to note that no access is allowed to these parts of the course that traverse private property as this would be viewed as trespassing. Access is only being granted for race day.
Floros has confirmed that the course will not be easy. “You will be riding a World Championship course. Competitors can expect to do a lot of climbing, but it will be a very scenic route, and will showcase the best of what the area has to offer.”
2014 Rainbow Challenge Final (28 June):
The inaugural Rainbow Challenge Final is an exciting opportunity for all local cyclists to compete in a brand new staging of a Masters’ World Championship event for the MTB marathon distance. A very exciting opportunity will also be provided to Para-cyclists to participate in the Rainbow Challenge Final, which takes place the day before the 2014 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships at the same venue. Para-cyclists will compete on the 50km route.
Mountain Biking is not yet recognised by the UCI as a Para-cycling sport, and World Champion status will, therefore, not be afforded to winners of the category in which Para-cyclists will compete. However, in the interests of promoting inclusiveness, medals (gold, silver, bronze) will be awarded to podium finishers. Riders in all Para-cycling classes (C1-C5) will compete for one set of medals. The medals will serve as recognition by the National Federation of the pioneering achievements towards the eventual inclusion of Para-cycling within the sport of mountain biking.
“Anybody who can complete a marathon distance can enter, and should enter, as this will be the last MTB World Championship event to take place in South Africa for a very long time. Local mountain bikers should take full advantage of this rare opportunity on home soil,” said event director Alec Lenferna.
The route will be the same as the National Championship route. Participating the National Champs on 8 June will provide an excellent test run of the track ahead of the Masters’ World Champs.