Single Speed South African Nationals

Words: Bronwen Blunden ǀ Photos: Nadine Matthew

Mountain Biking

It was weird, wacky, and fun. It was anything but conventional and everything that makes riding a one geared mountain bike truly magnificent. It was the Single Speed South African Nationals at Cowan House School, in Hilton, on Saturday, 29 June 2013.


What normally happens in a race report is a blurb on the winners, but that’s not really what single speed is about. Ok, so there were winners and those who need to race and set the pace, but for the majority this was pure party. To quell the suspense, Nick White was a deserving winner to claim the Single Speed SA Champion title. Roan Exelby, who sustained a broken leg earlier in the year, made a notable return to claim second place ahead of single speed guru; the legendary ballie Kim Phillips, who designed the stunning course. Sadly for the founding godfather of single speeders in South Africa, Grant Usher, his unique ‘fat tekkie’ steed failed him on race day and he was forced to spend an extended period of time at the beer stop. True to single speed law, everyone after third placed fourth.


The women’s title went to Nedene Cahill, who upset the defending World Single Speed Champion Amy-Beth McDougall and claimed Queen of South African single speeders (not to mention this was her first attempt). Kim Westbrook was third women home.



Participants took one thing seriously; the Wild Wild West theme, which followed through in the varied display of costumes and outfits bearing cowboys and Indians and anything purple. Despite the evening chill, a few participants enjoyed the warm-up short course on Friday around Cowan House School, which was followed by the customary consumption of varied liquids and much hilarity. The real party developed into full swing post event on Saturday with the carefully planned game challenges to determine the winning host province for the 2014 SSSA. It may have been ‘chubby bunny’ that tipped the scales in favour of Mpumalanga, but either way, it’s sure to be a continuation of the unique single speeders culture in the ‘place where the sun rises’. Of course, there will be a few dedicated (and fortunate) South African’s who will be making the trip to Italy to enjoy the World Single Speed Championships in early September.


Sincere thanks to Max Cluer Sports Marketing and all involved in making the event such a success, host venue Cowan House School and the parents committee for their hard work and catering, Major Machines for sponsoring the beer table, and Kim Phillips for creating a most enjoyable and entertaining single speed course.


For more information on the World Single Speed Championships taking place in Italy, in early September 2013, visit