The Addo Elephant National Park held informal trials among staff this week to select a development team for the Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge on Sunday, October 31.
One of just two South African national parks to host mountain biking races, Addo is determined to establish a cycling culture among previously disadvantaged members of its park community.
“We currently have eight active members and interest in the sport is growing as the local community sees them on the roads most days,” said Addo nature conservation manager John Adendorff.
“As far as the selection process goes, staff members are given a few weeks to prepare,” said Adendorff. “Then a short time-trial is held to determine the winners.”
This year, two of the development riders who made the cut will each receive a Schwinn mountain bike from PE cycle shop Cyclo Pro. Owner Rob Rudman has also donated a GT bike as lucky draw prize.
Rudman has been instrumental in establishing the sport in the Eastern Cape and has been sponsoring bicycles for the Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge since its inception three years ago.
Himself a multiple national masters’ cross-country and downhill champion, Rudman is putting back into the sport that has given him much success.
“It has always been on my heart to get involved in this kind of event,” said Rudman, whose family farm lies in the Zuurberg mountains around Addo. Cyclo Pro will also be providing mechanical support along the course on race day.
Although sponsorships of kit and bicycles greatly reduce the expenses involved, a lack of funding prevents promising development riders like Addo’s Phillip Tom (pictured) from competing in more than three races per year. “They are so keen to get out there, but can’t,” said Adendorff.
South African National Parks focuses on nurturing cycling talent within its workforce and Adendorff hopes that funding will be forthcoming to identify more talented youngsters. “We hope that they will become role models for the youth and take the sport further.”
Rudman echoed his sentiments, and emphasised the potential for cycling to counteract the social problems that often plague underprivileged rural communities. “It’s a really healthy sport that builds character in the young people who take it up.”
According to race director Shane Bradfield, buy-in from the local community is critical to the success of the Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge.
Community members will be involved in various aspects of the race from marshalling to route marking, water points and the race village with its farmers’ market.
The Sundays River Valley community also benefits through a sizeable donation to the Kirkwood Round Table, which supports various charities in and around Addo. The event offers an additional R60 000 in prize-money.
Riders can choose between the 85km Extreme Challenge (R180), 60km Herald Challenge (R120) and the 30km Capespan Schools’ Challenge & Family Fun Ride (R60). Tomorrow’s stars can take part in a 5km Kiddies’ Challenge and 1km Toddlers’ Dash (both R30).
Online entries are now closed but late entries will be accepted at registration from noon to 8pm on Saturday, October 30, and from 5am to 6.45am on Sunday, October 31. A R100 late entry fee is applicable to the 85km and 60km events.
Full Stop Communications
On behalf of:
The Mondi Herald Addo Mountain Bike Challenge