SA mountain bike racer Alan Hatherly is the World Under 23 Champion - he writes for the mountain themed edition of Cyclopedia...
One of the greatest things about South Africa is that we can ride all year round on some of the best trails and roads in the world. We have so much to be proud of in South African cycling, both at home and abroad, on the dirt and the tar, with events of true world class, across a diverse variety from the sandy Karoo to the loamy forests of Pietermaritzburg.
I’ve just taken part in the Cape Pioneer Trek stage race with Simon Andreassen from Denmark as my teammate for Team Spur-Specialized. Simon is the two-time Junior MTB cross country World Champion who has become a friend and a rival on the international circuit. He was in awe of the trails we rode on over the week. That's a proudly South African moment.
Alan Hatherly is the UCI Under-23 Cross Country World Champion, only the second African to have ever held this title (Pictures: Craig Kolesky)
My proudest moment as a South African was becoming the under-23 World Champion in Switzerland, 2 months ago. I had come close in Australia last year with taking the silver medal. This time I was determined to claim the title and bring it home to South Africa.
We are the country at the bottom of Africa, so getting to Europe and racing internationally seems like the biggest and hardest mountain to climb, but if you keep going, keep believing, then dreams can come true.
The late Burry Stander showed us that dreams can come true - when he won the under-23 World Champion title in 2009. It made all South Africans see what was achievable. I'm incredibly proud to be able to wear the jersey he wore nine years ago, especially as the ambassador for the Spur MTB League.
Enjoy your cycling. Embrace what a wonderful country South Africa is to ride in. For those riding the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge mountain bike and road races, have the best of days.
This article first appeared on 702 : World Champion mountain biker edits Cyclopedia for us!