Norwegian professional Eirik Fiskvik will make his debut in South African mountain bike races when he competes in the Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter, starting in Knysna on Sunday.
With UCI points at stake, the 26-year-old rider said it was an added incentive in making up his mind to head south for what he feels will be “the experience of a lifetime”.
The 614km challenge, supported by STANLIB and Volvo, will see competitors take on seven stages through some of the Western Cape’s most iconic trails, ending in Franschhoek on February 10.
A winner of the three-day UCI-rated Glacier 360 in Iceland last year, with his older brother Anders, Fiskvik said he had discovered the race on Facebook.
“I wanted to do a stage race in February and when I clicked on TransCape’s website I immediately made up my mind – I was going to South Africa.”
His first visit to the country almost came to nothing when partner Ole Hem broke a collarbone in an accident while training at the weekend.
“But I luckily have been able to find a replacement in Thomas Engelsgjerd, also from Norway and in the same team as Ole,” said Fiskvik.
“We will rider under the name Team Happysalmom because ‘happysalmon’ is a saying in Norway that denotes a happy person.”
With his partner three years his junior, the Norwegian ace said he hoped to help them make the right decisions.
“Seven days is a long time for a race and to keep your head throughout is an absolute necessity.”
Having grown up in Tynset, a small town with winters reaching -40C, Fiskvik now lives in the Norway capital, Oslo.
He is part of the four-man Norwegian professional outfit, Trek Sparebanken Hedmark, the leading team in the country for several years.