A change is as good as a holiday.
Perhaps this is the reason why Hanco Kachelhoffer (Bonitas) has decided to join the ever- growing list of road cyclists who are now competing in mountain biking races as well at the end of April.
Kachelhoffer’s first mountain-bike race is the joBerg2c currently taking place in KZN (26 April – 4 May). He will be riding with Hendrik Steytler.
His next race will be the Nissan TrailSeeker Hazeldean event in Pretoria (25 May). Depending on his road-cycling commitments at the time, he might also compete in the TrailSeeker Cullinan event (6 July).
According to Kachelhoffer, his main focus during this season will still be on achieving good results in the important road races. A major change in his cycling career might, however, occur next season.
“The reason why I am doing joBerg2c and the Nissan TrailSeeker races is because not much will be happening in road cycling at that time. It will, therefore, be an ideal opportunity for me to make my mountain biking debut.”
Kachelhoffer is actually no stranger to mountain biking.
“I seriously started cycling when I was 12. My first bicycle was a mountain bike and during the first six years I spent more time riding on dirt roads and singletrack than on tarred roads.
“The reason why I decided to commit to road cycling was because the concept of teamwork appealed to me. However, mountain biking has been one of the fastest growing sports during the past few years, which means that it offers many more opportunities for riders.
“I am not getting any younger. Maybe mountain biking will help to prolong my career as a professional cyclist.
“Neil MacDonald, Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill all proved that road cyclists can be competitive in mountain biking.”
According to Kachelhoffer, the main difference between road cycling and mountain biking is that a rider can cope in a road race, even when he is not feeling well.
“You simply ride in the bunch and save your energy. In mountain biking there is never an opportunity to hide away. You just have to bite the bullet and make the best of it. I think I will be able to cope because I used to be quite a good individual time-trialist, winning three South African titles.
“In a time-trial it is also just you and your bike. To excel you must be able to push yourself to the absolute limit and ignore all pain. The same applies to mountain biking.” Kachelhoffer makes it clear that when he competes in a mountain bike race, he will race to win.
“I see the joBerg2c as my mountain biking apprenticeship. My main goal will be to learn as much as possible. I think I will have an advantage over other road cyclists who switched to mountain biking, because I will not be intimidated when I have to race through tricky technical sections. I actually love it.
“All through last December I trained on my mountain bike in and around George, riding parts of the Attakwas, Cape Pioneer and old Epic routes. Being a road cyclist will be to my advantage when riding on open dirt roads. Not many mountain bikers will be able to keep up with me.”