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Cycling Trials brings new dimension to World Champs

When the UCI MTB & Trials World Championships gets under way in Pietermaritzburg in August, eager cycling fans as well as South Africa’s general public will get a glimpse of Trials, a discipline largely ignored previously on the African continent but which demands some of the highest level of skills from its participants.

Although being a relatively unknown entity in the host region, Trials is a largely popular entity throughout Europe, America and even the east and will be a source of great entertainment for those at the Cascades MTB Park between 27-31 August.

ÔÇ£Trials is a hugely skilful, highly intense type of a sport which takes place in a very small, compact space making it incredibly spectator friendly,ÔÇØ explained Kim Phillips, Trials Manager for the event.

ÔÇ£The things that these guys are able to do on a bicycle and the skills that they have is just absolutely unbelievable and I have no doubt that it will captivate people who come to Cascades (MTB Park) to watch the event in August!ÔÇØ

ÔÇ£The riders almost seem to regard their bikes as pogo sticks with two wheels because they don’t ride over the obstacles but hop and bounce their way over them instead,ÔÇØ he added.

Having been born out of the popularity of its motorized predecessor in Europe in the 1970’s, trials is a cycling discipline which requires riders to get themselves and their bike over obstacles, grouped into sections or zones, without their foot or any part of their bike ÔÇô other than the wheels ÔÇô touching the ground.

Should a rider be forced to put their foot down or any part of their bike touches the ground or an obstacle the rider incurs penalty points and the rider at the end of the various zones with the least number of points to their name is declared the winner.

ÔÇ£There are also different categories for bikes with different wheel sizes and those taking part in the Trails at this year’s World Champs will do so in either the 20 inch or 26 inch class, depending on their age and gender,ÔÇØ added Phillips.

ÔÇ£All riders start off in the qualification round before approximately the top half move through to the finals and then the top four riders battle it out for the spoils in the Super Final. Each zone doesn’t take terribly long to complete and riders are required to complete all of the course’s zones within the two and a half hour time limit,ÔÇØ said Phillips.

Adding to the spectacle is the element of the unknown as rules do not permit participants to practise on the various obstacles before the competition commences. ÔÇ£Some of the obstacles across the various zones are extremely technical and can be approached in a variety of directions. As the competition goes on the officials will change the direction from which the obstacle has to be approached and completed, making it more and more difficult.

ÔÇ£Therefore the whole course becomes this ever challenging, dynamic environment and, with riders only able walk, not ride, through the course beforehand and walk past the obstacles once everything is underway, it really is a tricky test of their concentration, skills and stability,ÔÇØ said Phillips.

Despite the sport being relatively unknown throughout South Africa members of the public may actually be more familiar with the sport than they initial realise through having seen it previously via freestyle trials demonstrations and motorbike trials.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at The Cascades MTB park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013, and will be preceded by the UCI MTB Masters World Championships from 21 to 25 August.


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