Christie Hearder nervous about return to racing

On 21 September 2020 by admin

By: Tim Whitfield

Competitive mountain bikers and trail runners are spoilt for choice over the next few weeks with the return to racing opening up options for racing snakes to get their competitive juices flowing again.

After months of lockdown and a scarcity of racing, Saturday sees three events starting and competitors are relieved they do not involve indoor trainers placed in front of computer screens. The Husqvarna Classic at the Virginia Trails near Eston, and the Holla Trails Classic and Giba Gorge Classic events at their respective bike parks are all designated as semi-virtual events, meaning entrants compete on the same course but choose their start time over a competition window.

The format allows event organisers to comply with social-distancing protocols but provides competitors with an opportunity to compare their performance against that of their rivals. Competitors can select to race anytime until October 10, giving just more than a three-week window for riders and runners to compete.

The return to racing will see some interesting results as riders get their first taste of competition and top women’s rider, Christie Hearder, says she is “not really racing fit” and is a bit nervous about competing once more.

“I may not be racing fit for cycling, so I am a bit nervous I may not be where I should be, but I am looking forward to these races.”

The Husqvarna, Holla Trails and Giba Gorge Classics look likely to play a major role in deciding the top placings in the lucrative Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum. The ten-race ROAG series offers the biggest prizemoney for any mountain biking and trail running series in South Africa and event administrators, ROAG, are relieved to be able to restart the series after it was temporarily suspended in March due to Covid-19.

The Giba Gorge routes are likely to be the toughest test for riders with the bike park situated in a steep valley which ensures the routes for the three mountain bike races, as well as the two trail runs, will contain some climbs.

By comparison, the Holla Trails bike park is relatively flat and fast and the winners on those routes will probably be decided on speed rather than power.

The Husqvarna Classic at Virginia Trails is more of an all-round test with some power climbs mixed in with some fast descents and rolling hills.

All three events offer riders a choice of three rides of about 40km, 20km and 10km, while trail runners can choose between a short run of 5km and a longer event ranging from 10km to 16km.

Competitors have to upload their results to a results site and ROAG will provide a live leaderboard on their website so riders and runners can see how they are faring in the race standings. At the end of the racing window, winners will be rewarded at a virtual prizegiving.

Hearder, the women’s leader of the mountain bike portion of the Quattro ROAG Series powered by Momentum, is nervously excited about the new format and the return to racing.

“My plan is to do all three of the races, but we will have to see how things pan out with my time,” said the Absolute Motion team rider. “I really like the format and think ROAG has done an awesome job getting it together.

“The format is something different and I really like the concept of this type of racing. There is no pressure of being on the line waiting for a race to start. I am not a pressure person so I think it may suit me. I also like the idea of setting a target and racing to beat that. It allows you to race yourself.

“I also think they have chosen three really nice venues at Holla, Giba and Virginia Trails, which we do not ride very often.

“And it is nice that you can pick the day you want to race. The Absolute Motion team is planning on going out to ride the races on a Wednesday each week, which is a bit different, but with this format you do not have to race on a weekend.”

Hearder is not sure how her legs are going to respond to the racing again after more than six months of lockdown.

“I have used the lockdown time to finish my B.Com Business Management degree through UNISA, so it has been nice to be able to get that done without trying to fit in training and racing. I have spent some time on my indoor trainer but have also used the opportunity to have some fun exploring other forms of exercising, like running and some cross fit.

Hearder will also be doing the Spring Queen Classic women’s-only race at Shongweni on September 27th. To celebrate women and promote mountain biking by not having events clashing, ROAG has agreed to make September 27th a “No Racing Day” for their three events so riders and runners are not able to submit results from that day.

More information on all these events is available at or

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