Just over a year ago, I interviewed my daughter Kaia on her mountain biking adventures, including a bad fall she’d recently had as well as her epic 24km race. Although Kaia is still an avid cyclist, it has taken her a while to build back her confidence after the big fall. She hasn’t wanted to go back to the place where she fell and we haven’t forced her to. However, we have encouraged her to keep riding. When we asked her if she’d like to participate in the Paratus Bike Shredders Race on the 28th May 2022, she didn’t hesitate. There were three distance options – 5km, 10km and 20km. With her typical steely look, she was quick to agree to the 20km race and on Race Day she came home with a 2nd place finish in the Girls Category!
We arrived at the race a few minutes to 7am which gave us just enough time to offload the bikes from the rack and get Kaia (and my son Thiwa) onto their bikes for a quick warm up. [Thiwa was participating in the 10km Race but unfortunately he had a tyre puncture mid-race and wasn’t able to complete the full course.] We spotted my cousin Tapiwa whose son was also participating in the 10km Race. It was quite a crisp morning and we were bundled up in warm clothes. Ditiro was in his High Viz Vest to accompany Kaia on the trail.
Interview With 10-Year Old Cyclist Kaia
You looked very focused at the Start Line. What were you thinking about? I was thinking about winning. I was also thinking how cold it was and I didn’t have my riding gloves as Zucchini (my dog) had chewed them.
Please describe the course for us. After leaving Madison Square (Start/Finish), we immediately went onto some newly cut single track with tight corners. There were a few rocky and sandy sections. After this, the trail exited onto a little dirt track parallel to the Mokolodi tarred road. This went all the way to the A1 Junction and then followed the cleared route above the new pipeline parallel to the A1. The route then departed from the A1 and we went slightly uphill following the same pipeline. Halfway up this incline, we turned around and retraced our steps, eventually coming back onto the single track next to the Mokolodi Road.
What did you most enjoy about the race? The trail was really beautiful – the rocky and sandy sections as well as the hills made things quite challenging but exciting. I also like the fact that I won Second Place and earned P300! There were also many spot prizes at the end of the event so many of the kids finished with some kind of prize like shirts, helmets and a Garmin watch!
We are so proud of you! What do you think you did well in the race? I went over the sand quite nicely – I made sure I was leaning back so I floated over it. I was also doing the “boss” stance over the rocks. I took advantage of the downhill sections. And I also let the faster guys go in front. Towards the end when Daddy had to help some of the kids behind me, I was able to navigate on my own and help some other boys who were with me.
That sounds brilliant. What do you think you could you have done better? I think next time I will have my seat a bit higher. My calves got quite sore with my seat this low. I also could have hydrated more.
What did you like about your dad being with you? The markings weren’t always clear so I felt very safe being with him for such a long ride. He was also my loyal servant – handing me my water bottle and fuel when I needed it! As he carried everything, I didn’t have anything weighing me down. He also guided me on which sections needed a higher or lower gear.
Ditiro, from your perspective, what did Kaia do well and what could she improve for next time? This was a very big ride for her. She showed such good endurance to be out there for 2.5hours. She challenged every obstacle without hesitation. She navigated very well in terms of looking for the tags. During the race, I was very comfortable to leave her alone while I helped other kids out. In terms of improvement, there were sections where she could have selected a more appropriate gear which would have helped improve her pace. I think going forward, we will need even more practice on uneven terrain including hills and sand. But overall, it was great exploring brand new sections of trail with Kaia. We really bonded over the beauty around us. And it was just fantastic seeing her with a big smile and watching her fighting spirit.
Kaia, how could the race be improved? There should be more tags so we don’t get lost! Also, better marshals – one of the marshals sent us in the wrong direction. Maybe there could even be more grown ups riding with the kids in case they have difficulties or fall down. It would also have been nice to have a technical station with a pump to fix bikes where needed. I also found there were quite a few branches and thorns along the route.
Ditiro, anything to add? I would say mark turns even more obviously for the young riders using directional arrows wherever possible. Also like Kaia says we definitely need more support and active sweepers on the trail, especially as there were all ages and levels of riders out there. But otherwise, I really loved the trail, the views were amazing and I’ll definitely go back again.
Kaia, there were so few girls in the 20km Race – what would you like to say to other girls to encourage them to start riding? I think some girls feel mountain biking is too rough. But girls are strong so I’d love to see more girls riding.
“Don’t worry about getting scratched and mucky – that just makes things more fun!” – Kaia Coyne, age 10
It’s also lots of hard work but even when you fall you just pick yourself up again! You also see a lot – I’ve seen lots of wildlife on different trails.
What are you looking forward to next? Getting first place in the next event! But I also want to explore the bush more. With school work, I haven’t done as much riding as I’d like but I’m looking forward to training properly for the next race.
Thank you Kaia for letting me interview you! I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see what you do next!
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.