Andrew Mclean – we are an event driven nation
13 January 2016
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, a returning guest now and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Andrew Mclean onto the show. Andrew, welcome back, nice to catch up once again, thanks for your time.
Andrew Mclean: Thanks Brad, thanks for having me back.
BB: Andrew, the last time we spoke, you mentioned, just touched briefly on a couple of the mountain biking races we’ve got here in SA. Just how attractive they are to international visitors to come out and ride and the favourable exchange rate if you are coming into SA. Mountain biking in this country at the moment is going through a real purple patch. We are truly blessed to live in such a magnificent place that lends itself to a sport like mountain biking.
We are the ideal Mountain biking location
AM: We certainly do and as I said last time, I think South Africa is to mountain biking what Hawaii is to surfing. We’ve got a weak currency, we’ve got a fantastic climate, we’ve got the best terrain, we’re on the same timeline as Europe, so it’s easy to get here. There’s just so much going for us and the ABSA Cape Epic has been one of the catalysts.
I just think of how many events that have sprung up, these 2-3 day events all over the country because of people preparing for events like the ABSA Cape Epic and then of course now we’ve got the Old Mutual joBerg2c, we’ve got the Cape Pioneer, you’re just absolutely spoilt for choice.
I see a move now starting to come where people are also starting to do events like Tour de Mashatu which is about riding in the game reserve; seeing lion and cheetah, leopard, elephants, from your bicycle. People going to events like Namaqualand Daisies to see the flowers. So it’s not all about the race and the events.
You’re starting to get businesses springing up that are just providing solutions for all these mountain bikers that they’re looking for, and not everybody wants to race. Not everybody is all about how fast they can do it, but they’re starting to actually say, it’s about enjoying my bike. About enjoying the African continent off the back of my bike.
Are we too multi-day event focused?
BB: Andrew, I think you make an important point there, it’s not all about the sufferfest of the Epic and you mentioned the Old Mutual joBerg2c as well. There are definitely places for races like that. But for a lot of people, it’s just about experiencing something new and experiencing it on a bicycle. Do you think, as South Africans, we’re too focused on the big multi-day stage marathon mountain bike events?
AM: I do think at times we are. But we’re a funny nation and I don’t know, I blame it on the Voortrekkers. We’re a bit like a hardcore nation. I think of the Comrades Marathon, I think of the Dusi Canoe Marathon, we like a challenge. We moan like hell over eight days of the ABSA Cape Epic or the Cape Pioneer and the minute we cross the line, we can’t wait to enter it again.
Now we’ve got a whole lot of war stories to tell our mates and we’re a very adventure driven nation. Guys come into our stores from overseas and they look around and they can’t believe how little equipment we’ve got for the commuter. The average person who just wants to ride a bike for the sake of riding a bike.
They look at the nutrition aisles and they say: there’s more nutrition in the shops than in all the shops in Germany, what’s going on? That’s because we’re an event driven nation. We like a goal, we commit. But as I said, we do see people now, the move is starting to come where, hang on, it’s about smelling the roses.
Let’s go and have a look at the Namaqualand daisies, let’s do a tour, 50-60km a day, we’ve got all day to do it, we’re in no hurry. We’re going to stop and have a nice lunch or we’re going to stop at a great wine farm and I see that side of mountain biking starting to flourish now.
BB: Andrew, do you think we should be focusing a lot more on cross country, particularly with our youngsters, if we’re going to produce world class athletes. I think of the likes of the late Burry Stander and looking at some of the other youngsters coming through now. Do you think we’re not focusing enough on that side of things and pushing them to the shorter, faster, more technical stuff early on in their careers?
Shorter technical stuff is crucial to development
AM: I think, we spoke last time a bit about the BMX track, I think that an indoor Velodrome and cross country racing are absolutely critical. Cross country racing, a bit like an indoor Velodrome, where you learn the speed and the skill. It’s spectator friendly and let’s not forget, that’s the Olympic discipline, that’s where our youngsters should be aiming to get to.
If you look at the career of somebody like Chris de Souza, that’s where he was at his best and then as he got older and he started losing a bit of his speed, he then moved onto the marathons and the ABSA Cape Epic etc. I think we certainly need a big drive around cross country.
We need to make tracks that are friendly for the kids and if I think of what the School Series and Spur are doing with that School Series, that’s cross country racing for the kids. I think we now need to help them bridge from that into the next level.
We need to make sure that there’s media exposure, that we help the sponsors that are getting involved. We need to build cross country tracks, we need to have A, B and C lines, so that a child that’s maybe not quite as technically adept, has some options.
We don’t penalise them too heavily, so they’re still in the race. I think CSA should be really driving that and in fact, I know it’s fairly high on their agenda to try and get cross country racing back to where it needs to be.
BB: Andrew, you’re lucky, being in retail you get to see trends and that as they’re happening, what have been some of the biggest mountain biking trends of 2015? When it comes to gear and things that people are getting into, looking ahead to the New Year?
Latest trends in mountain biking
AM: Brad, I mean DI to electric gears, we’ve now got suspension systems they’re busy testing where the front suspension will get information from the front shock and send that information to the back shock. I’m talking at 80km/h down a hill and it will tell the back shock how it needs to behave for the bumps that are coming up.
There’s so much happening and every year I kind of look at the bike and I say, I’m sure they can’t make them much lighter. The technology looks like it’s as far as they can push it for the moment, but every single year they come out with something new and I’m amazed.
When I look at a bike that we rode 10 years ago, I can’t believe how far it’s come in 10 years. I’ve got no doubt that in 10 years’ time when I look back at my bike I’m riding today, I’m going to laugh at it and say: I can’t believe that’s what we rode on.
BB: I guess it’s the wooden tennis racquet syndrome. If you look back and think that all the pros were playing with wooden tennis racquets not too long ago, I think we’re going to feel exactly the same way about the bicycles we’re riding. Thank you very much for joining us here on Old Mutual Live once again. We look forward to catching up again soon and all the best for you in the New Year, I hope 2016 is your best year yet.
AM: Thanks very much, thanks for having me Brad.