Only four years ago, mountain biking (MTB) was simply an exciting hobby for 18-year old Paarl Girls’ High School matric pupil, Mia de Villiers, who only jumped onto the saddle sporadically, and seldom took the sport seriously.
Fast-track just a few years and she’s a budding MTB rider and a Spur Schools MTB League Rising Star.
“I started riding with my dad, just as a pastime. It was fun and I enjoyed it, especially when I had some free time after netball,” Mia says.
But before long, MTB went from being a hobby to a sport she grew to love so much, that she has fast become an avid rider with an absolute passion for the sport, and a participant of the country’s largest cycling programme – the Spur Schools MTB League. In 2016 Mia, scooped first place in the Western Cape leg of the race and fifth place in the national final.
“Those were unbelievable achievements that I am still incredibly proud of,” she says.
Mia has big dreams, and one of them is to participate in the Absa Cape Epic. She has already earned the Western Cape XCO championship title in 2016 and scooped third place at the 2017 SA XCO championship series.
“I truly believe that if you can dream it, you can do it. It just takes hard work and a bit of sacrifice, which involves early mornings to train, and packing in some extra hours of study time later in the day. The reward is great, so it’s all worth it,” Mia says.
But there’s a lot of work to be done for the 2018 League season, which officially kicked-off in May, and Mia’s already packing-in a rigorous six-day a week training programme to ensure she stays fit and on top of her game. “Last year was very difficult. I took a nasty fall and broke my wrist and I was forced to park my bike for a long time. But the accident taught me resilience and to never give up on my dream, which is to one day participate in the Absa Cape Epic,” she says.
Of her rising star status, Mia says she is most proud and adds that it demonstrates that young girls really can enjoy and excel at MTB. At this year’s Spur Schools MTB League, Mia hopes to qualify for the final in Magaliesburg in October, as well as obtain her Western Cape marathon colours.
Ever since Mia started to participate in the MTB League, she has worked quite hard on getting the school involved in the league and now there are quite a few riders from her school participating. They are also working on making cycling an official school sport.
“I am passionate about MTB and look forward to exploring all the sport has to offer under the guidance of my coach, Alex Kruger. I believe that there are great things on the horizon, I just need to work hard,” Mia says.