South African mountain biking has grown remarkably in the past decade, but in the past couple of years there’s been an increasing number of road cyclists making the switch. It’s obviously grown the numbers but it’s also seen the racing at the front of the various categories become more competitive. Mountain biking has become a new lease on bicycle riding and racing for many who have become tired of the same old routine (the road racing calendar hasn’t changed much in over a decade); or who are scared of the high risk of collision with motorists on the roads. If you’ve just switched, or are considering it, welcome!
WHAT TO EXPECT
There’s a sub-cultural shift that’s required when converting from road to mountain biking. For some, it’s quite rapid and seamless; for others, it’s an awkward adjustment that can take ages. Instead of us telling you what to expect, we asked nine high-profile converts some questions about their experience when making the switch.
ANRIETTE SCHOEMAN, Elite category, raced road for 17 years
What attracted you to mountain biking? I’ve been cycling for such a long time and felt that the time has come to explore my options and to try something fresh. It’s a very relaxed scene, unlike the road cycling, and it’s really a lot of fun.
What has been the toughest part of making the transition? I started off without any guidance, so getting a bike that fitted me properly and getting into races by myself was quite a challenge. The maintenance is quite hectic compared to riding on the road.
How have you managed this? The guys from Wayne Pheiffer Cycles helped me SO much and Merida, my road bike sponsor, also got me a 27.5 (650b) bike. As far as the racing part goes, I like being thrown in the deep end, so every race is different. I’m still learning
From a bike and gear perspective, what has been the biggest challenge for you? Initially, I struggled to decide between a 29er and a 27.5, but opted for the 27.5
What bike do you currently ride? Merida 0.Seven XT. It’s a hardtail.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being excellent), where do your rate your MTB handling skills? Knowing what I’m doing, I’d say four; and riding on gut-feel, I’d say six.
Do you have plans to change this? I did one of the Tread Skills clinics and learned SO much. Just need to practice what I learned now. I realised that it’s the little things that you have to be aware of the whole time.
Which has been your favourite MTB race so far? I really enjoyed the Sani2c with Aca Joe, because it was my first race ever, the experience was incredible. The RE:CM Knysna 200 was also really enjoyable. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking.
What one piece of advice can you give to roadies thinking of crossing over? Don’t make it complicated. The principle is the same and that is to pedal your bike. It’s super fun and it really compliments riding on the road as well.
TREAD – all rights reserved