Whitby mountainbiker battling for fitness
Dopers Hill looms large on Eden Cruise’s horizon.
The Whitby 16-year-old became the youngest winner of the Karapoti Classic when he took out the 50-kilometre mountainbike event aged just 15 last year.
Cruise picked up a knee injury in that event and it has troubled him since, meaning he’s not as fit for this year’s event on March 5.
‘‘Ideally I’d like to defend the title, but I don’t know how well that will go,’’ he said.
‘‘At the end of last year I had a knee problem from Karapoti last year, so I lost a bit of fitness and haven’t really had the time to fully get it back.’’
That means Dopers Hill, which reaches 531m and presents the toughest climb of Karapoti, is going to be extra challenging this year.
While successfully defending his title would be nice, the St Pat’s Town student has bigger assignments in mind.
‘‘Ideally I want to go over to the junior worlds [under-19] this year and make the podium.
‘‘Then in 2020 I want to try to race at the Olympics. I don’t have any idea of placings yet, but in 2024 I want to be on the podium at the Olympics, and also do the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and 2022.’’
To achieve those goals, his other sports of running and rugby are likely to go on the backburner.
‘‘If I want to focus on biking I have to drop the other sports because it clashes.
‘‘Town are really into athletics, so I’ll probably do the odd race. I’ll probably get pushed into doing McKevedy [Shield], but rugby I don’t plan on playing.
‘‘Back in primary school I was national running champ and people saw those results and saw me as something useful for McKevedy. In year 9 I was happy with it, but I was racing 1500m and 3000m and it was just round and round and gets a bit mindnumbing.’’
Running was the catalyst for moving into mountainbiking.
‘‘I was always really into my running and I was doing some little triathlon things, just messing around. I wanted to do something bigger – I wanted to do an ironman when I was 9, but I wasn’t allowed.
‘‘So I signed up for Karapoti, and ever since then I’ve been pretty keen on mountainbiking.’’
Eden Cruise became the youngest winner of Karapoti in 2015, but a knee injury means he’s battling for fitness this year.