Kiwi MTB Collective member Ethan Woods at the Under 19 2022 MTB XC nationals.
A team dedicated to helping young athletes compete internationally has headed off overseas.
The Kiwi MTB Collective is a cross-country mountainbike (MTB XC) group of 13 people aged between 16 and 23.
Sponsored by Talley’s Group, the collective was started by Riwaka-based team manager Scott Woods, and existed to help young athletes progress to an international stage.
This week, Woods would accompany 10 riders to Europe for six months, to compete in international mountain biking events such as the UCI world series, what Woods called the “Formula One” of mountain biking.
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“They’ll be going to events around a range of countries. Each race will have 100 to 140 riders, the best in the world. ”
Members of “Team Talleys” included Woods ’son, Ethan Woods, who was the South Island U17 mountainbike xc race national champion in 2021.
Woods said the driving force behind starting a cycling collective was that his 16-year-old son didn’t want to spend five months alone with his father, while traveling for the Union Cycliste Internationale world cup and other international competitions.
“Five months is a long time for a 16-year-old to be with his dad.”
Woods is a mountain biker with 35 years’ experience. The idea came to him to involve other riders to form a UCI registered collective for young riders wanting to race internationally.
Woods put out a message through Facebook inquiring if anybody would be interested in forming a collective.
He got a huge response back, he said, with a large number of people applying. However, only 13 spots could be filled.
Woods said, while living in a pandemic, for many athletes wanting to go overseas and compete, the hardest part was logistics.
Over the next six months, Woods would take care of the day-to-day, handling transportation, cooking, and accommodation while the athletes trained and competed.
“I’m a little bit worried about the cooking.”
This would be the first year the team had traveled away. Covid-19 had caused “constant changes,” with the vehicle transport suddenly being canceled due to Peugeot no longer making the van they had booked.
“Of course it’s not just people we’re transporting, bikes take up massive space.”
While Talley’s sponsorship would cover accommodation, transportation, and race fees, rider still had to fundraise for airfares, insurance, and supply their own bikes.
Many of the younger athletes would learn through distance while overseas, and others had put jobs and study on hold to participate.
Team member Amélie MacKay had taken a gap year to attend, before she heads off to Otago University on a scholarship.
“It’s a big undertaking by them.”
Snowmoto operates a snow bike business in the South Island