Article by Gabriella Brondani

This September sees the return of the third Fedhealth MTB Challenge, to be held for the first time on Boschendal Estate in Franschhoek, with its superb off-road trails that flow over the beautiful Banhoek conservancy.

Chris Norton, owner of BMT bike shop in Stellenbosch, has completed both previous MTB Challenges in 2015 and 2016. Originally a rugby player, Chris wanted to find a sport that would give him the same kind of thrill yet involve a training regime that “wouldn’t leave him looking like the Michelin man”. Having started mountain biking by completing Ironman and off-road triathlons, today it’s his sport of choice. “Mountain biking is a great sport to see the outdoors without doing damage to your joints providing you stay on your wheels,” he says.

The Fedhealth MTB Challenge caters for riders of all ages and experience levels –so even if you’re a newbie to the sport, it’s a great event to take part in. If this is your first time entering an event like this, here are Chris’s top 6 tips:

1. Come prepared

While mountain biking is a great sport, it’s also technical due to the terrain, which means things can go wrong with your bike. Make sure you have all the tools you need to fix a mechanical problem if it happens and speak to your local bike shop if you need help knowing what to buy.

2. Know how to use your tools.

It’s all very well having the right tools on you to fix your bike, but you also need to know how to use them! At BMT we run a technical skills course specifically for this purpose, as many people carry bike tools but have no idea how to actually use them.

3. Complete a skills course.

The Fedhealth MTB challenge has some fairly technical parts to it, so it’s a good idea to do a skills course if you don’t think you’re technically sound on off-road terrain. Doing this type of course can teach you to avoid falling by learning to ride around obstacles, and you’ll also be more confident on the saddle, so your chances of falling are minimized.

4. Have the right nutrition and enough bottles on the day. Many people dehydrate or

Many people dehydrate or over hydrate as they don’t know what to eat and drink, so plan this well in advance in terms of what you’ll consume during the race.

5. Do enough training.

This is crucial for making this a pleasant day out. After all, there’s nothing worse than going above your limitations and spending the whole day falling and cramping. If you’re feeling undertrained, rather do the shorter distance option, e.g. the 15km fun race or 28km half marathon.

6. Be aware of those around you on the single track. If you hear a faster rider behind you, pull off and let them through. If you’re faster than the person in front of you, don’t go screaming into their tire – rather ask politely if you can pass. Trail etiquette is essential to everyone having a great day.

The Fedhealth MTB Challenge will be held on the 16th and 17th September 2017. The 16th September is the kids’ event, consisting of a 500m race for 0-5 year olds, 1 1,5km race for 6-9 year olds and a 5km race for 10-13 year olds. On the 17th September adults can compete in the 15km Fun Race, 28km half marathon or 60km marathon distance. Keen to join in the fun? Enter now.

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