It's all downhill from here for AA guide

It's all downhill from here for AA guide

Posted on July 09, 2017

While most people in their early 30s would be easing back on extreme sports, Active Africa guide, Eckhardt Kühn is charging full throttle downhill on his mountain bike.

Eckhardt vividly remembers his first mountain bike. It was far too big for him and he had to shift his weight from side to side to reach the pedals as he rode it on the family farm in Namibia. But the bug had bitten and Eckhardt remembers spending every waking moment building dirt jump lines and riding his small BMX bike. It was here that he honed his riding skills and earned many of his scars!

By the age of 17, he was racing full suspension downhill mountain bikes, competing during his last two years of high school. But as studies and ‘adulting’ became life priorities, Eckhardt was forced to press pause on downhill racing, only returning to the sport in 2012.

He spent the following two years rebuilding his skills and confidence but it was a tourism opportunity that really rekindled his passion for the sport when Eckhardt was offered a position as activities manager at a guesthouse in the Cape winelands. It was here that he sweated blood and tears to build the downhill tracks that were to host the 2015 provincial and 2016 provincial and national races.

WP downhill Champs Image: Catherine KuhnHis work on the track established Eckhardt in the downhill riding and track building community. The steep tracks were tailored for his riding style and he started training with the objective of racing once again. But fate had a different plan….in January 2016, a sudden accident on his own track forced Eckhardt to have to sell his bike to pay the medical expenses for a badly dislocated wrist. After a 7-month break from riding, a friend assisted him to purchase a bike and the training started in earnest.

A second setback happened in January 2017 when Eckhardt’s downhill track literally disappeared in flames as the mountainside burned. This was a devastating blow both personally and professionally. But it strengthened his resolve to continue riding and on March 18th of this year, Eckhardt took his first podium position since 2007. Placing first in the sub-vet men’s category in the provincial series gave him the boost he needed to continue riding.

His track building skills had attracted the attention of the MTB community and he was asked to help revive an old track in a Stellenbosch Nature Reserve. His work on the track earned him an invitation to compete in the upcoming provincial race which gained him another podium finish.

The question we are asking Eckhardt… will he continue to race? This remains unanswered, but we know that Eckhardt loves to share his skills with kids who are new to the sport. Perhaps coaching and training are the next chapters in his life’s story….

 

Eckhardt is an accredited mountain walking leader and guides many of Active Africa’s walks and hikes as well as our biking trips. He will be leading our new Rwanda biking trips in 2018.

 

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