Hill climb cycling event pedals in Valley Lakes precinct

Niel Van Niekerk Crop  TBW Newsgroup

Niel Van Niekerk Crop TBW Newsgroup
UP FOR THE CHALLENGE: Mount Gambier Cycling Club junior rider Niel van Niekerk is ready to tackle the Valley Lakes hill tomorrow. Picture: JAMES MURPHY

AFTER months of planning, the Crank the Crater hill climb event is finally here.

The inaugural event will be held at the Valley Lakes precinct tomorrow but rather than the horsepower witnessed each year in the Legend of the Lakes, this one will see cyclists take up the challenge to be fastest up the notorious hill.

The hill climb will begin at the bottom car park where the Legend of the Lakes starts and continue up the hill, turn right onto Elliot Drive then right up to the finish line at the Tower car park.

Mount Gambier Cycling Club president Dean Zeven said he was excited about the opportunity to tackle the Valley Lakes hill, with plenty of interest already generated.

He said the event was open to all cyclists, not just club members.

The only stipulations are bikes must not have motors of any kind and competitors need to purchase a one-day licence to cover them for insurance purposes.

That has been limited to a cost of $10 for non-members and $5 for those who already have a Cycling Australia licence.

Apart from that it is all about each individual cyclist facing the daunting climb up the hill on whatever style of bicycle they choose.

The road down to the Valley Lake and up to the Tower car park will be closed from 9am to 1pm, with the event to kick off at 10am and run through to around 12pm.

Those wanting to take their cars down to the bottom need to arrive early to avoid the closures, but will not be able to exit until after 1pm.

Others can park at the top and ride down before the event starts.

Entries will be taken on the day.

Zeven said it was a relaxed event, with no pressure on riders to set a fast time.

At the end of the day the competitors will receive a certificate with their personal time.

Zeven said many of the club riders were talking about setting the fastest time they can to claim the “King of the Mountain” honours.

“There is a fair bit of excitement around the club,” he said.

“The idea of riding with the community has been exciting for them.

“There are mixed feelings about the hill, because some of our riders do not like hills, but others love them, so they cannot wait to give it a crack.

“Some of them are even talking about removing weight from their bikes, taking off bottle cages and things like that.

“Some members have even asked if they can go more than once, if they feel they have left something behind, which should be fine.”

However, Zeven said it was all about engaging the wider community in the sport, rather than just an all-out race.

“We are welcoming everyone with a bike,” he said.

“They do not need to be too worried about the hill – just ride within themselves.

“There is no pressure to set a time.

“It is just the riders against the mountain.”

Zeven said one of the biggest challenges is possibly the middle section of the course, with a steep, long uphill section.

However, he said riders needed to ensure they had enough left in the tank to reach the finish line.

“The first section is quite easy and a little bit undulating,” Zeven said.

“Then there is a climb going up to the turn onto Elliot Drive which is fairly difficult.

“The final climb up to the car park is probably the steepest, but it is short.

“As long as you have a bit of energy left you should be fine, so it is probably important not to blow yourself up in the first part.

“I would recommend people pace themselves and maybe when they can see the finish line put the rest of their effort in.”

As for the fastest times, Zeven said he expects the younger club members such as Tess Wight and Niel van Niekerk to push hard for the overall honours.

“Tess Wight would be a clear chance to win, but Niel van Niekerk also has a good chance,” he said.

“He is still an Under 14 and is a real talent.

“For the older members, we are fit and will be keen to set a good time, but the younger riders are lighter so should have a good chance.

“But it is not about comparing your time to anyone else.

“The ones who are the fastest can claim King of the Mountain honours, but it is all about each rider against the hill.”