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09 Dec, 2016

Staying on Track

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As we enter the so called ‘silly season,’ we thought it would be appropriate to chat to someone that does something a little different, and somewhat, well, ‘silly.’ This month in our behind the helmet feature we speak to Steven Heerden who is the current South African Track Pursuit Champion.– BY KYLE DEELEY

 

MC:Who taught you to ride a bicycle?

SH:My dad. I started when I was about five years old and started spinning classes when I was 13. That was the start of my career in cycling.

 

MC:What is your all-time favourite cycling memory?

SH:Winning the under-16 South African Time Trial Title. It was my first SA title and will always mean a lot to me.

 

MC:What sports do you do other than cycling?

SH:I did show jumping as a kid from the age of nine until I was 13. I played a bit of rugby as an under-16 but it began to interfere with my cycling.

 

MC:Who is your cycling idle?

SH:Darrel Impey. I met him for the first time at an under-16 training camp in Sabie and have followed his career path since then. He has been through tough times, but every time he comes out stronger.

 

MC:What is your favourite track event?

SH:The Madison. It’s just you and your teammate in a relay against other teams. The fact that you race, then change with your teammate and he continues to race while you rest for a second or two, makes for fast, hard racing.

 

MC:You are the current South African Elite Pursuit Champion. How did it feel claiming this title and what do you remember of that race?

SH:It felt great! It was something I had worked hard to achieve, after finishing second and third in the previous years. The vibe during and after the event made for a memorable moment and the only thing I could hear coming down the home straight was the crowd screaming and shouting.

 

MC:Last year you placed sixth in the 947 Cycle Challenge in the men’s under-23 category, and ninth overall. Are you looking to improve your road cycling results or is your focus on the track?

SH:The 947 is a big race and I was happy with last year’s result, which I know I can improve on. The track and road actually compliment one another, making it easy to switch between them.

 

MC:While competing at the recent T-Town Track event in the United States, you raced top level professionals from the USA and Europe. What is it like competing overseas and how does it compare to SA meets?

SH:Racing in T-Town was a memorable experience. The racing is a lot faster there than what we are used to back in SA. The racing is hard and fast, so to win or even get a top position is extremely difficult. We raced against world champions and six-day stars of the track, and it was nice rubbing shoulders with the big names in track cycling.

 

MC:In 2013 you were involved in a massive crash at the Kremetart Cycle Challenge and suffered several injuries. What motivated you to keep going with competitive cycling?

SH:I lost two of my teeth and lost skin on my nose and chin as well as a deep cut to my knee. I was booked off the bike for four weeks, and to be honest, it was hard for me to get back into it. After that, my training was on and off, and I actually thought of giving up cycling... but after not touching my bike for two weeks I realised cycling was something I just have to do. I can’t go without riding my bike, although at first I just got back on the bike to have fun and didn’t worry about racing or competing. However, the competitive side of me came out and I started racing hard again. The crash had a big mental impact on me and it took me some time to get through it, but looking back it taught me a lot and I am a better rider now.

 

MC:Who is your all-time favourite cyclist?

SH:Fabian Can. He is one of the fastest and strongest riders around and he always has a never-say-die attitude. The way he rode to victory for all his Paris-Roubaix titles was something spectacular.

 

MC:Do you have any advice for those looking to take up cycling as a sport?

SH:Cycling is a wonderful sport to get into, whether you’re a weekend warrior or an aspiring pro. It takes hard work and dedication, but the result is worth it. However, one thing I always tell people, is the stronger you get, the faster you’ll go, but it never gets easier.

Kyle Deeley

Kyle Deeley

Editorial Assistant |

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