Family and Fitness

Kaia Earns 2nd Place In A 20km MTB Race

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 MileCoach Debbie RunsConfessions of a Mother RunnerRuns with Pugs, and Laura Norris Running! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners from around the world.

23 thoughts on “Kaia Earns 2nd Place In A 20km MTB Race

  1. Oh, that’s amazing!
    Congratulations to Kaia on her 2nd place, she did really well! 20k is a long distance on a mountain bike.
    And as for Thiwa – I’m so sorry about his tyre puncture. I’m sure that next year, the race directors will have some emergency teams out there to fix the bikes.
    I hope they will also have more adults riding on the course. I’m imagining Ditiro frantically helping all those kids out there – it must have been an interesting sight! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Catrina! Ditiro came in very handy on the course, LOL! We need more parents or volunteers out there for sure! But such a fun morning. And kids are so resilient – the more lost they were the more fun they seemed to have. 🤣

      I also learnt I need to become a bike mechanic because when Ditiro was out with Kaia, I could have done more to help Thiwa out. Next time (which is August) I’ll have a bike fixing “degree” 🤣🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely interview. I love that D takes on the loyal servant role for the ladies in his household😂. What a lovely bonding experience for you all.
    Well done Kaia, you are such an inspiration to so many girls out there and you are right, girls are so much stronger than the realise.
    Looking forward to reading your next race review!!!


  3. I love the photos of Kaiia — she looks so determined & strong! Congrats to her on the second place finish; that’s awesome. I can tell you right now she is braver than me!

    And let her know that grown ups often need better directions on a course, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Huge congrats to Kaia!!!!!! So awesome, and such an amazing accomplishment 😉 I love how she took on the 20K…go big or go home 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done to the both of them! She’s really lucky that she had her Dad with her and it’s great of him to act as a sweeper. I hope you forward their recommendations to the organisers. Is there a way to share your blog/her thoughts with more girls so that at the next event more and more girls show up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the big parenting groups on FB shared the blog so hopefully more and more people see it and girls are inspired to sign up to the next! There were many more girls in the 10km race so hopefully as their confidence builds up, they will give the longer distances a try too!


  6. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!! What an amazing and beautiful girl! I actually cried while reading this post. I laughed at this “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.” I see more amazing things in her future!


  7. Awwe I love this! Congratulation to Kaia on not only earning a 2nd place finish, but gaining more confidence as well. I imagine it must have been hard for her to get her confidence back after such a hard fall. She’s a tough kid!!


  8. Kaia, well done on an epic ride, and on getting yourself back out there after your fall. Also congratulations on helping others but also making sure you didn’t let that hold you back. Hooray!


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