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Back You are here: Home Sports MTB KZN MTB: Alan Hatherly: Leader of The Pack
Sunday, 16 February 2014 22:08

MTB: Alan Hatherly: Leader of The Pack

Alan Hatherley quite literally lives his life off the beaten track and has the broken bones to prove it.


At the tender age of six, whilst other kids were learning to ride bikes, he was winning BMX races and earning a number two ranking in the country. A year spent in a cast after breaking his right femur led to parental persuasion of looking into Downhill Mountain Biking and it would be appropriate to say that he has never looked back since.

Racing locally until the age of nine, he made his mark on the national series and won five SA Downhill Championships, along with four SA XCO titles. For the uninformed, XCO (lap racing cross-country with obstacles to be negotiated) is the only mountain bike discipline with Olympic status and is perceived to be the most difficult of the various forms of MTB; the challenge more than likely proving to be the reason that Alan now considers himself to be strictly a cross-country exponent.

It comes as no surprise that he was an age-group champion in 2012 and 2013 (for both cross-country and marathon racing) when one considers his outstanding work ethic and training regime. A daily programme typically consists of two hours on the track and another hour in the gym. The nature of the sport means that leg work and continuous strengthening of the core is a must; squats and plyometrics proving to be the most effective means of pushing perceived cardiovascular limits.

On the weekends he’ll head to Pietermaritzburg, the scene of Greg Minaar’s memorable 2013 World Downhill Championship victory that catapulted the sport into the national consciousness. He remains an isolated case though; the vast majority of South Africans looking to break into the professional ranks are forced to head to the United States, Australia or Europe.

The major forces in the sport include Switzerland, Germany and Italy; European nations that offer opportunities for the best in the world to compete in UCI events (Union Cycliste Internationale), predominantly held in Western Europe. With this in mind, Hatherley’s 2015 plan include a ‘gap year’ with an international team, the nature of which is dependent on his results this year.

The challenge is further heightened when one considers that it will coincide with his rapid progression to the under 23 age category whilst still eighteen years old. It is said that an MTB cyclist reaches his peak after ten thousand hours in the saddle and it makes sense that this is more likely achieved at the age of twenty-three than as a teen. At this juncture, it needs to be said that nothing about the Hillcrest High School learner’s progression has been consistent with average trends or expectations.

Though not the easiest of tasks, Alan’s dreams are made all the more likely achievable through the consistent support of his various sponsors, family and that elusive, intangible inner BMT that has proven itself to be the defining divergence between competitors and champions.  

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