Sappi Howick MTB Classic weekend just around the corner

Sappi Howick MTB Classic weekend just around the corner

Howick MTBers rally around local youngster

Howick – Sbu Vilakazi’s budding mountain biking career received a massive boost this week when he took delivery of a competitive mountain bike sponsored and assembled by a passionate group of local riders.

With the Sappi Howick MTB Classic weekend just around the corner on 4 and 5 March, the Howick local has been working for the Howick MTB Club, but has not been able to get involved in the sport because he does not own a mountain bike. Members of the Howick MTB Club took up his plight and soon the key components of a competitive bike were being sourced, and Rod Boden at the Howick Cycles agreed to assemble the bike for the excited youngster.

Local MTB enthusiast Sbu Vilakazi (right) gets to grips with his new bike sponsored by local riders and assembled by Rod Boden (left) of Howick Cycles. Gavin Ryan/QuickPix

All smiles, Vilakazi has quickly got to grips with the bike and promises to take on the 20km ride at the Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Sunday 5 March to mark the racing debut of his new MTB.

Sbu has been a star, working on the trails for the club,” said Gavin Ryan, trail designer for the Howick MTB Club. “He knows the trails better than I do! “Working on the trails is actually much more than just the physical clearing of the vegetation and grooming the track. To do this really well you need to understand how the trail flows and how to cut it best to provide a special riding experience. I suggested to Sbu that he should start riding, and his eyes lit up,” said Ryan.

Ryan started by donating a frame, and soon fellow club members were chipping in components, and the local bike shop owner Rod Bowen of Howick Cycles agreed to assemble the bike professionally.

It was great to see his face when he collected the bike,” said Ryan. “He couldn’t stop saying how beautiful it was. It reminded me of when I got my first bike.” he added.

I am really excited about riding my new bike for the first time at the Howick MTB Classic!” said Vilakazi. “I have been doing some training for the race and I am really grateful to everyone that has helped me.”

Vilakazi was keen to take on the tough 40km ride at the Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Sunday 5 March to mark his racing debut but Ryan has persuaded him to aim at the 20km intermediate ride instead.

I told him not to get ahead of himself, that 40km ride is pretty tough” said Ryan. “He is super excited, and I hope this is the start of a long and happy MTB career for him.”

The 20km intermediate ride will take the big field of MTB enthusiasts on a new network of trails that Vilakazi has been helping Ryan prepare, between Curries Post and the N3.

The Sappi Howick MTB Classic takes place on Sunday 5 March and consists of a 40km Marathon, 20km Half-Marathon, and a 10km Fun Ride, with a five stage Enduro on Saturday 4 March. All entries are through ROAG.

More information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za or www.facebook.com/howickmtb.