Conventional mountain biking can be a lonely adventure over terrain that non-cyclists consider dangerous, but the aim of the Spur Schools MTB League is much broader. Promoting cycling as a school sport is part of the deal, so the routes try to balance skill and fitness with fun.
A total of 61 schools have already participated in Mpumalanga’s Spur Schools MTB League this year in an attempt to qualify for the national finals at Bekker School in October. The action-packed finals will once again see schools as well as provinces competing for the coveted Spur Schools MTB League trophy and top spot on the provincial log. Schools earn points for every single participant, but better results earn more points, which add team spirit and boosts the determination of most riders.
Exciting as it was for the more densely populated Mpumalanga Highveld to host some events in the Spur Schools MTB League this year, it will take considerable effort and luck to put the Lowveld under any real pressure. Once again Hoërskool Lydenburg has completely dominated the league. They are ahead by almost as much as Uplands College and Nelspruit Hoërskool earned to put them in the second and third positions.
While it helps for as many participants as possible to attend the qualifier events, no school can hope to win the league unless some riders also perform well in their their age categories. With four cyclists among the top 10 in the vast and hugely competitive Youth Men’s category, these Lydenburgers scored 129 points before the contributions of the other 28 riders in that category were added, and so it goes on. Getting the girls involved is a challenge even here, but a total of 86 points were earned by two riders among the top five in the Junior Women’s category. No less than 58 of their students participated in the qualifiers leading up to the provincial final at Mankele, and Hoërskool Lydenburg will line up there on the 22nd of August with 671 points in the bag.
The rocky gradients and challenging cycling tracks of the Gustav Klingbiel Nature Reserve are just around the corner. Riders, teachers and parents as well as the local bike shop and the general community are all hugely committed to support these youngsters. The school owns twelve bikes of which three were donated and the rest bought with money raised through competitions. Particularly the development riders share these bikes, which the local bike shop maintains. Group training rides are a regular routine, and if no teacher is available, ex-students and current top riders do their best to inspire and help.
It is exactly this attitude that saw Lydenburg High School winning the “geesbeker” at the Spur High Schools MTB Final two years running.
For further information follow us on @SpurMTBleague, log on to SpurSchoolsLeague on facebook or visit www.spurmtbleague.co.za.