Good News: The Spur Schools Mountain Bike League Is Back!
While the pandemic continues to provide event organisers with serious challenges, the League has decided to adjust the format for the first round of competition to ensure the running of compliant and safe events. An individual time-trial style racing format will be introduced for the first round of competition in all regions. This format not only makes participant management easier and safer, but also alleviates the League’s seeding conundrum as there has not been any competition for almost 18 months. All results and points from this first round of competition will count towards overall season qualification.
The Spur Schools Mountain Bike League aims to introduce more learners to bikes and encouraging South African schools to adopt mountain biking as an official sport. With these simple aims, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League has built a strong cross-country racing format, with four or more events taking place in each province between April and September.
Schools are encouraged to enter as many riders as possible in order to rack up points that are awarded to riders’ finishing positions in each race. The primary and high schools finishing top of the points log at the end of each season are awarded the Region’s School Champion floating trophy.
Individual scholars without a school team are also permitted to participate in regional events, with their points being allocated to their school. Gauteng currently leads by example with school team managers managing the whole entry process.
The 2019 Season that saw over 19 000 entries
A High School Inter-schools Final wraps up each season in September and each school strives to qualify for this prestigious event. Approximately 550 riders representing 60 schools from different regions are able to compete at the Final in Brits. Here, schools go head-to-head using team strategies to accumulate points, moving the racing away from the individual rider focus. Not only school pride is at stake: in prize money goes to each school that wins their age category. The Inter-schools Final’s vision is to foster school-versus-school action yet it also extends invitations to scholars that perform over their season but don’t form part of an invited school team.
Recently, the Spur Schools Mountain Bike League started including primary schools in the racing categories to introduce a healthy feeder system for the sport. Now riders in the 7 to 13-year-old age categories can experience these exciting events and get involved in the sport in a safe and structured environment. Encouraging healthy participation and development is key here, and no Primary School Inter-schools Final is offered to the younger riders. Participation is also limited to selected regions.
“The League is looking forward to the exciting format adjustments to adapt to Covid-19 regulations while maintaining our key objectives of getting more kids on bikes and driving transformation of the sport, as great strides have already been made in these areas. The new format will need to offer an outcome that can fluently integrate into a finals-based competition as allowed by the regulations – this will provide a solution that is fair, affordable and accessible to all participants.” Meurant Botha, SSMTBL Director, Amarider
“We are ecstatic and extremely grateful to see our schools participate in the 2021 Spur League season again where safety, accessibility and affordability have been taken into consideration. During April we will finalise, in cooperation with the League, the practicalities and test the new format. Schools Cycling SA’s respective provinces will host information sessions with their affiliated schools at the beginning of May to communicate more information. We cannot wait to see our Schools Cycling family in action again, and in the meantime please continue to practice while complying with safety regulations.” Annelize Ziehl-Owens, President Schools Cycling South Africa.
“Really amazing news to hear that the Spur MTB Schools League is continuing its legacy and starting the racing again in May since the 2019 Season that saw over 19 000 entries. A massive thank you to the League for putting the events back on and providing a platform for the youth of the sport to develop and shape their talent into future stars.” – Alan Hatherly, SA XCO Elite Champion
The League will monitor, in consultation with stakeholders, the ongoing Covid-19 regulations and move to standard, XCO-format racing when it is viable and safe to do so.
Entries for the season open on 25 March. For more information, visit www.spurmtbleague.co.za