Showing an impressive increase in both participating schools and riders, more than 1000 riders representing 60 schools battled it out this season for the top spot on the log and a place in the upcoming national championships.
Stellenbosch-based Paul Roos Gymnasium has once again shown their supremacy by staying undefeated at the top of the men’s log since the inception of the league in 2009 with 1422 points, which also secured them overall second position. Parel Vallei from Somerset West won the mixed team category logging an impressive 1841 points, followed by Bellville’s DF Malan in second place with 1132 points. Mountainbiking has also increased its traction in the Breede River area with Montana High School from Worcester finishing third with 1086 points and Drostdy qualifying for the finals for the first time.
In addition the individual category winners also qualify for a spot in the finals. They include junior boys champion, Daniel van der Walt of Fairmont High School; Allison Morton of Westerford High who was undefeated in the youth women category and team mate Courteney Webb who finished top of the log in the junior women category.
League organiser Meurant Botha of Amarider said that the organic growth of the league has proven that mountain biking carries huge appeal amongst younger cycling enthusiasts.
“It is an extremely encouraging sign for mountain biking as a sport discipline to see the enthusiasm with which the South African youth have embraced this exhilarating sport. It is also promising to note the significant increase in female riders. Although primary schools cannot yet qualify for the league finals, it augers well for the sport that even our younger population segment are taking to the tracks,” said Botha.
The commitment from top ranked schools such as Parel Vallei, Paul Roos and DF Malan is a good indication that mountain biking is on the fast track to becoming an officially recognised schools sports discipline.
In order to make the league even more accessible to riders, the senior (high school) categories were moved to later time slots allowing for those that participate in mainstream school sports to fulfil their school commitments.
According to Botha, another major development since the inception on the league is the shift to racing on school grounds. “Developing these tracks at schools not only brings the racing to the kids, but more importantly places the sport right in the middle of the traditional and mainstream field/court sports. This gives mountain biking greater exposure, relevance and credibility. In 2015, that ratio will be more than 50%,” states Botha – founder of Amarider – a national trails advocacy organisation aimed at improving and promoting trail opportunities around Southern Africa.
The league will culminate with the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League National Finals in October, when MTB fans from across Sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa and neighbours Zimbabwe and Namibia will congregate at Bekker School in Magaliesberg to compete as schools as well as provinces for the coveted Spur Schools MTB League trophy and top spot on the provincial log.