Eston – Seven septuagenarians have entered the Illovo Eston Mountain Bike Challenge based at the Eston Club eager to prove that they can hold their own in the field of over 2500 riders expected at the popular mountain biking event on Sunday 3 August.
With entries set to close at midnight on Wednesday 30 July, excited riders from throughout KwaZulu-Natal are hurriedly adding their names to mix, including six 70-years-old and older cycling crusaders.
Dave Bridges from Crestholme in Waterfall is currently the second oldest person to have submitted their entry for this year’s event and after two enjoyable attempts at the 18km Tala/aQuellé Family Ride, 72-year-old is looking forward to his maiden 40km aQuellé Half Marathon voyage this year.
“The 18km is very family friendly but this year I decided I was going try something a bit more challenging and I’m looking forward to taking part in the 40km race for the first time,” explained Bridges.
Albeit a little off his best form currently, Bridges is relishing a return to the region he spent much of his previous years in.
“I thoroughly enjoy the mountain biking in general as well as the Eston race! We’ve still got many friends in the area and they are actually the ones that keep me coming back each year,” he chuckled.
“Being able to get out there and enjoy the fresh air, the countryside and the social aspect of the sport is great!
“Even though I know the terrain pretty well, my aim this year is just to finish in a reasonable time as I haven’t done much training recently and am not at peak fitness at the moment,” he added.
80-year-old Derek Stringer is another of the ‘over 70’ class who is set to tackle this year’s Illovo Eston, one of only a few mountain biking events Stringer competes in religiously.
“I do both road cycling and mountain biking and I compete in five or six events religiously each year, Eston being one of them together with the likes of the Argus, Toti 69’er, Amashova and the Scottburgh MTB race,” said Stringer.
“I have competed in the Eston event six or seven times before and I really like the event because it’s always good fun.
“Sometimes you see animals, which adds a bit of excitement, and it’s always good fun!”
71-year-old Joy Schaffers, Stringer’s fellow Brighton Beach pensioners’ cycling group member, is the oldest female entry as it stands and the pair are just two of a handful of the group readying themselves for the Eston challenge.
“We spend half our time on the road bike and half on the mountain bike and Joy is a very strong rider, even having done the 40km race at Eston before!” said Stringer.
“The 18km race is more than enough for me though. There is some lovely single track and then quite a big downhill to finish, enough excitement for me for sure,” he chuckled.
Edward Hattingh of Amanzimtoti and Malcolm Kohrs of Kloof are also set to join Bridges on the 40km adventure next Sunday while Howick’s Ian Robinson will join Stringer and Schaffers in the ‘over 70 club’ taking on the 18km event.
The day’s wide variety of events also caters perfectly for those on the opposite end of the age spectrum with the likes of 5-year-old Connor Wright of Pietermaritzburg just one of the hundreds of youngsters likely to take part in either the 18km race through Tala or the 10km STIHL Kids Ride.
The Illovo Eston MTB Challenge’s 60km Illovo Eston Marathon, 40km aQuellé Half Marathon, 18km Tala/aQuellé Family Ride and the 10km Stihl Kids Ride take place at the Eston Club on Sunday 3 August. More info can be found at www.illovoestonmtb.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media