The Corporate MTB League is the brainchild of Henning Swanepoel, a Somerset West businessman, golfer, and lately, yes, you guessed it, a very enthusiastic mountain biker. Henning has been taking part in Richard Gill’s very successful Corporate Cup Golf Challenge for a number of years now, and has experienced the business advantages that this competition has brought as an added benefit.
But here’s the problem: Henning enjoys mountain biking more (a lot more, in fact) than golf these days, so he started scratching his head, trying to think of a way to bring a series of mountain bike league races based on handicap to the corporate world.
Henning has been a client of Helderberg Cycle World in Somerset West from the first piece of mountain biking equipment that he bought, and has built up a good relationship with the owner, Petie Viljoen. The more Henning took part in the mountain bike outrides organized by Helderberg Cycle World, the more he became convinced that he should knock on their door in an effort to try and take things forward. He had a meeting with Petie (formerly a mechanical engineer), who knows a lot about mountain bike racing and routes, and when he mentioned the idea to him, Petie’s eyes lit up and die koeël was deur die kerk, as the Afrikaans saying goes.
After a few months of thinking and researching the concept, and realizing that there were quite a few very complicated formulas and ways to determine and calculate handicaps, the penny dropped. The 4 basic factors that influence the performance of a mountain biker on a circular course were established and brought into a simple handicap calculation: age,gender, body mass index (bmi) and mountain biking experience. BMI was chosen ahead of the rider’s power/weight ratio, as the latter would necessitate all would-be participants to undergo lab VO2 Max tests at least twice per year and is something that would bring additional expense and inconvenience to the riders.
The rider has limited control at best over the above mentioned 4 factors, but over the 5th factor, cardiovascular fitness and conditioning, he/she has control, and that’s where he/she can build a competitive advantage. This 5th factor is taken into consideration by being added as a performance factor in the handicap, ensuring that each rider’s handicap is adjusted for every race, based on his /her actual performance in the previous races.
And so 2011 saw the 1st series of League races taking place, with the riders in ecstacy about the venues and the courses, as well as the fact that each and every week-end warrior stands a chance to be in the prizes if they ride well and concentrate on cutting out unnecessary habits in their riding.