Road star Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, one of the guest speakers set to appear at a mountain biking symposium prior to the final round of Madibaz XCO Series this weekend, was positive about the South African mountain biking scene.
“It’s really encouraging to see what’s being done on the mountain bike scene in this country,” said Moolman-Pasio. “It’s become quite a popular sport at schools and you’re seeing great numbers of participation in the leagues across the country.”
The national time-trial champion will share her experiences, as one of South Africa’s top cyclists, at the Nelson Mandela University’s George campus on Saturday evening.
While somewhat critical of the road scene in South Africa, the Cervélo Bigla rider was complimentary of the mountain bike scene. She said it was encouraging to see the progress that had been made over the years and how it provided opportunity for young riders to make their start in cycling.
“Road cycling unfortunately has somewhat died in this country and I think that is somewhat understandable, to an extent, because our roads are not very safe for training or competitions.
“So the natural place for youngsters to be developing their skills is on the mountain bike because we have such great trails and safe environments.”
She said mountain biking provided an element of fun that allowed aspiring cyclists to do what they loved and hopefully that translated into careers.
The 2012 Olympian said she hoped to motivate riders who attend the talk by sharing her experiences and advice.
“Cycling is probably one of hardest sports in the world in that there are so many aspects that are out of our control, so there are plenty of obstacles that have to be overcome,” she said.
“I’ll be talking about how I’ve managed to overcome adversity and give advice on how one can handle this disappointment.”
Despite facing a number of challenges herself in recent years, she impressed on the world circuit this season and made history when she climbed to third in the UCI World Rankings – the highest by a South African – on the back of a stellar season.
She placed seventh in the individual time-trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Norway last month before crashing out of the road race.
She returned home at the start of this month and lined up for the Cape Pioneer Trek last week, where she and her husband partnered up to race in the mixed category.
After this weekend, Moolman-Pasio said she would turn her attention to Wines2Whales, which takes place next weekend.