Wellington teenager competing in UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Wellington mountainbiker Erice van Leuven.
Photo: Supplied

Wellington mountainbiker Erice van Leuven first came to international attention at 10 years old after a clip of her going hammer and tongs on her tiny, bright pink, kids bike went viral.

Six years down the track and she is now racing some of the most technical and dangerous downhill courses in the world, competing in the UCI downhill World Cup.

Van Leuven’s small stature, mop of curly hair and mile wide grin were unmistakable even from beneath the protection of her full face helmet.

Three races into the World Cup series found her sitting at third in the Junior Women’s category after taking her first UCI win in the first race at Lenzerheide in Switzerland.

Van Leuven said she had been dreaming of the achievement since she was eight years old.

“It was insane. It was cool to come into first but I knew there was still another quick girl to come. But after she crossed the line and I won it was like ‘holy moley, I just won my first World Cup’. To have my brother and dad there and some friends as well, it was really cool,” van Leuven said.

Downhill mountain bike racing was a notoriously tough sport and at the next event in Leogang, Austria, van Leuven crashed heavily – slamming into a flat section of track after going over the bars at speed.

Wellington mountainbiker Erice van Leuven, at the age of 10.

Erice van Leuven first came to international attention at 10 years old.
Photo: Supplied

“I jumped on to the off camber and then just got caught low and couldn’t break enough and then hit the rock just before the road and just spiked and slammed. I flippin’ winded the buggery out of myself,” van Leuven said.

She was cleared of broken bones but was still in pain when the next event came around at Vale De Sole in Italy.

Once on the bike she blocked out the discomfort to come in second to another New Zealand rider, 17-year-old Sacha Earnest.

Van Leuven rode for the French Les Orres team based in the mountain resort of the same name.

When she spoke to RNZ she was in the middle of a week long training camp.

The team’s riders had free reign of the resort’s downhill trails, as they took time to hone their skills and prepare for the remainder of the season.

She said the camaraderie and support of the team made it possible for her to focus solely on her riding.

Wellington mountainbiker Erice van Leuven is competing internationally.

Erice van Leuven heads to the world championships in Glasgow in August.
Photo: Supplied

“It makes life so much easier for travel, for accommodation, for food. It just means that I can have a clearer mind and do my riding and having mechanics for race week means I basically don’t have to touch my bike,” she said.

In August, the team would head to the world championships in Glasgow before returning to France for some local racing.

After that they would dive back into the circus of the UCI World Cup series.

Van Leuven said the last few years had been a blur, both on and off the bike, but she was eager to step up to the challenge.

“It’s moved very fast from riding local tracks with my brothers and going out just for fun to full on World Cup racing. It’s cool though,” van Leuven said.

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