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20th Mar 2008
March 20, 2008 Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Courtesy: Mark Squire
Santa Cruz Syndicate's Greg Minnaar hosted a Big Air Camp for 10 local downhillers from around South Africa preceding the Pietermaritzburg leg of the SA Downhill MTB Championships on March 12th through 14th. The camp started on Wednesday with the guys arriving from all parts of SA and ranging in age from 11 to 44, all eager to meet their local hero and current Downhill World Cup Champion.
Wednesday evening was the opening night, pizza was ordered and every body relaxed on got to know each other. The riders were also treated with a surprise guest on Wednesday evening; they got to spend time with GM's teammate Peaty. Star struck with two riding heroes in front of them it wasn't long before everyone was relaxed and joking around. The evening ended off with Steve signing what ever the riders could find.
Thursday Morning Early start with the guys being picked up at 9.00 and off to Howick Downhill course, this at the time was thought to be the best downhill in the area to ride as it was raining and the other courses were inaccessible. With riding only starting at 11 as the vehicle got stuck in the mud and even Peaty jumping in to help with some mud driving, Minnaar and the guys where soon on the course practicing sections in the mud starting from the top doing sections, picking of lines and technique to the bottom of the course. After lunch and the drinks supplied by USN for the camp the guys where off back to the hotel to dry up and have a well deserved dinner.
Friday Morning Early 8:30 start again and the guys off to Cascades downhill which is where the round of the SA Downhill MTB Championship was going to be hosted 2 days later and a South African Champion chosen in each age group.
Greg went through race prep with the riders and spent the day on the course teaching them the correct way to prepare for the race exactly how he would prepare for a round in Europe or America. Greg covered all types of bike skills and techniques from cornering, braking, picking the right line. GM also took each rider and made sure their bike was set up correctly for them and the course. He also said that was general bike setup and you should not be scared to try different settings to see if there are others more suited to your riding style
Friday Evening Dinner a casual braai and everyone going through what was a good day and what they had learnt. Greg then autographed cards, number boards and anything his local SA fan base could find for him to sign. Mike (Greg's Mechanic from Team G-Cross Honda) was also there to share his experience with bike setup and helped a lot of the guys find the right setting for their riding style and gave some valuable tips on general bike care.
14th – 16th of March was the SA Downhill MTB Championships held at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg and it was going to be interesting to see what results the riders from the camp would bring in after spending time and preparing correctly for their first race of the year with Greg.
Sunday came and all the guys were anxious to get the first run of the day in muddy conditions under way which took place in the beautiful Ferncliff forest and proved to be extremely tough with a lot of steep sections, big drops and a long pedaling section.
The camp participants shone and saw a 1st in three different classes from riders that attended the camp.
Sub Junior Boys 1st : Tiaan Odendaal
Youth Men Men 1st : Timothy Bentley, 2nd : Kenneth Sinclair
Junior Men 1st : Hayden Brown
Elite Men 1st : Greg Minnaar
After the event Greg commented, "I'm really stoked to see all of the riders do so well today. With the comments and results from the camp it's pretty clear to me that this is something I really want to keep doing, to help develop the sport in my own country. I'm really happy to have won the National Title and now lets hope Nathan and Steve can do the same. The spectators were awesome this weekend, it meant a lot to me to see so many people out there cheering."
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