KwaZulu-Natal mountain biking enthusiasts are gearing up for the MiWay Big 5 Mountain Bike Series. Launched in 2006, the annual challenge sees riders competing in five races taking place in Zululand’s top trails over a period of five months.
MiWay’s sponsorship has helped grow the series and encouraged participation for the sport in KZN, believes Shane Webster, marketing manager of Big 5 Marketing. “Everyone talks about the growth in interest in mountain biking as a result of this exposure. These anecdotes were backed up by the success of 2012 Big 5 Series. Last year’s series saw an average growth rate of 15% and two of the races exceeded 25% growth, that’s simply phenomenal. And the 2013 Series is going to be just as successful,” he says.
Organisers have been working closely with sponsor MiWay to gear up for what stands to be a bumper tournament.
Splashing onto the circuit is new race route and venue: the Pick n Pay Elephant Classic Eshowe. This destination is set in real mountain biking country and the track is being specially prepared by Gareth Chitteden of Zululand Nurseries and Mike Vom Hagen, the well-known event organiser behind the Gratton Triathlon.
It’s not all about the track and riders though; equal importance has been given to looking after fans, families and curious spectators. “We’ve put a lot of attention into making each event a great day out for the whole family. The ever popular Kidz Zones will be a feature at every race, allowing parents of young children to enjoy the ride knowing their children are having great fun in a supervised and safe environment,” says Webster.
The popularity of the Series has allowed the expansion of the age categories with the biggest talking point being the ‘10km Challenge’ where timing of the 10km race will allow the more serious young riders in the under 13 and under 11 age groups to compete for the challenge of all five races and will still allow those who just want to try out the sport to see how they measure up.
Also new for the year is the addition of the Youth Category for the U16’s in the 25km which bridges the gap between the U13 and the U18 Junior section, allowing a fairer competition. And to cater for the older rider, the Grand Master age category will be a feature throughout the series.
The innovative short-term insurer’s participation in the mountain biking arena extends well beyond its numerous sponsorships according to Max Huggins at MiWay. “Mountain biking is a special focus for MiWay, perhaps because so many of us are enthusiasts ourselves. That’s why MiWay offers standalone bicycle insurance; because we understand that for some people a bicycle isn’t simply a line item on a bigger policy.”
Follow MiWayMTB on Facebook (Facebook.com/miwaymtb) and Twitter (@MiWayMTB) for weekly mountain bike TV schedules, news, events and more. Visit mtb.miway.co.za for more information on MiWay’s standalone bicycle insurance – covering you for theft, fire and accidental damage during training and races and en-route there too.
MiWayMTB is an initiative by direct insurer MiWay, to encourage broad participation in MTB. As well as developing niche insurance products for this fast-growing community, MiWayMTB sponsors races, events and a dedicated SuperSport TV show – MiWayMTB. Community interaction is encouraged through the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/MiWaymtb, where MTB enthusiasts can also find news, product reviews, event details and race results.