Hundreds of teenage mountain bikers head south this week to take on the National Schools Mountain Bike Championships in Dunedin.

The event, hosted by Mountain Biking Otago and presented by Evo Cycles, has attracted over 400 riders from an impressive 110 schools around the country. They will tackle enduro, downhill, and cross-country events over three days starting on Friday at Signal Hill behind Logan Park.  

Enduro racing, included at a national level for the first time, has attracted the largest fields, along with the associated discipline of downhill where there is a wait list. With a total of 865 event entries, a number of competitors have opted to compete in several events.

Mountain Biking Otago Club president, Kristy Booth is delighted with the entries and is looking forward to showcasing the local tracks and the capability of the club to attract so many entries.

“The club [is] very proud to have been part of developing and delivering Schools Cycling Mountain Bike events over the past seven years, so to have the opportunity to host the pinnacle event on the Schools mountain bike calendar is a great privilege for the club.”

The event has been well supported by both North and South Island schools with Wakatipu High fielding the biggest team with 25 riders. Large teams will also come from New Zealand mountain-biking hotspots, Rotorua and the Marlborough/Tasman regions.

Amongst them is some of New Zealand’s burgeoning young mountain biking talent, including Rebecca Hufflett from Nelson Girls. She has made the under-16 girls grade her own, holding all three mountain bike titles at South Island Schools level and is also defending her national schools downhill and cross-country titles.  

Fellow southerner, Kalani Muirhead (Mt Aspiring College) will be looking to add to an already successful year in the under-17 girls grade, after picking up the South Island enduro and downhill titles, as well as last year’s national downhill title.

North Island riders looking to stamp their mark on the competition will be Rotorua’s Cameron Beck (John Paul College) and Adam Francis (Palmerston North Boys) who were cross-country national champions in their age group last year, and scooped the North Island cross country titles this year. 

The Cambridge High pairing of Seana Gray and Maui Morrison are on to their second of three national schools events these school holidays, after securing a number of podium finishes at last weekend’s schools road national championships. 

Following their time on Dunedin’s trails, the pair who compete in the under-15 age group head to Invercargill for the schools track national championships.

Entry to the event is free and spectators welcome. Please note that courses and schedule are subject to weather and may change. For more information please visit www.schoolscycling.nz.

Photo: Matt Wood

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