A young junior racer, James Reid (Specialized/Mr Price), has been earning high marks on the South African marathon circuit. Reid has scored 100 percent every time he's competed in a mountain bike race.
Reid started his cycling career as a road cyclist before switching to mountain biking. Last weekend, he completed a hat trick of off-road wins in Sabie by taking the MiWay half marathon series and thereby claiming the title of South African champion. Reid also won the MiWay Attakwas and Barberton races, as well as the first junior race of the MTN National cross country Series.
During Saturday's race, Reid made his intentions clear right from the start when he took off like a rocket at the boom of the starter's gun. His challenge to the rest of the riders was crystal clear: "catch me if you can".
Reid's fast pace turned the race into one of elimination, with one rider after another dropping off on the first steep climb. Only Travis Walker (DCM) managed to stay with Reid for a while, but eventually even he had to throw in the proverbial towel of defeat.
Understandably, Reid thoroughly enjoyed his race. "I slipped and slid through some of the corners and at times nearly crashed, but luckily I managed to stay upright."
According to Reid he might have had a slight advantage over the other riders. "I had trained in Sabie for four days, which meant that I got to know the route quite well. I just loved the climb and the technical sections. For me it was almost like a longish cross country race with two serious climbs. That is why I decided to make the racing hard right from the beginning."
Ten days ago, at the South African Road Championship in Klerksdorp, Reid also rode an impressive race. He finished sixth in the junior road race. In typical mountain biking style, he took the race by the scruff of the neck, getting mixed up in plenty of action right from the start. With two laps to go he was still fourth overall.
"My problem is that, as a mountain biker, I am used to racing 150 minutes flat-out and not 210 minutes. I really suffered during those last two laps. I was broken," said Reid. "It was certainly the hardest race of my life, but I am glad that I was able to prove to myself that I can be competitive in road races that matter."
When asked whether he might in future also race in the individual time trial and try to emulate the victory of Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) as a mountain biker in the senior individual time trial, Reid's answer was that the time trial has always fascinated him.
"Yes, I will definitely compete in the time trial. My most important cycling hero, and that of most of my peers, is Fabian Cancellara, the Swiss Olympic and World time trial champion."
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.