Mohd Halid Sata, Mohd Nurjamri Johari and Mohd Raihaan Abd Aziz will be representing Brunei at the four-day competition which starts today. It is organised by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) for the second time and is touted as Asia's biggest mountain biking event.
The trio will be accompanied in Melaka by their coach Abd Wahab DDW Hj Yusof and manager Omar 'Ali Hj Ibrahim.
"It will be tough for us but hopefully we can produce something," said Omar 'Ali when met at the Brunei International Airport yesterday.
"Though I am not expecting us to return with medals, the cyclists will be able to use the competition to gain valuable experience," he added.
All seasoned cyclists, Mohd Halid's specialty is road races.
However, since the Brunei Darussalam Cycling Federation (BDCF) could not find enough cyclists to compete in the cross-country event, the 31-year-old was roped in to join the team.
"Halid's event is road-race so we have had to spend the past few weeks transferring those skills to mountain biking," explained Omar 'Ali.
"I think he has learnt the technical skills needed and is now confident, but when it comes to endurance and fitness, he has the upper hand (over the other two)," said the manager.
The team's training involves improving their endurance and skill, and they have been using the Berakas Forest Reserve and Sg Basong Recreational Park to prepare for the competition.
They have also used smaller events to prepare for Melaka.
Fresh after capturing the open category of the 1st Boulevard Group Mountain Bike Challenger in Miri last weekend, Mohd Raihaan felt the tournament would put him in good stead for Melaka.
"I am very happy to have won in Miri, it was definitely good training for me," said Mohd Raihaan.
"I am looking forward to the competition in Melaka and try to get something for the country.
"It will be tough though, and I think Indonesia and the Philippines will be the teams to beat.
"Our training was alright but I think we could have done with more," added the 21-year-old.
Cycling since 2000, Mohd Raihaan will be competing in the downhill and cross-country event while Mohd Halid and Mohd Nurjamri will only be contesting the cross-country race.
Finishing third in Miri, 24-year-old Mohd Nurjamri is another experienced rider who also took up the sport in 2000.
According to MNCF's website, the Recreational Forest in Ayer Keroh formerly known as the Botanical Park will host the cross-country event while the downhill events will be held at Bukit Beruang.
Mohd Raihaan and Mohd Nurjamri duo described the course as challenging since it is very technical, with the rocky and muddy terrain adding to the difficulty level.
The trio was supposed to be joined by two downhill cyclists in Melaka, but the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports said it was unable to provide funds for the trip.
Reinforcing their commitment to the Asian Cycling Confederation, BDCF went ahead with their plans to send a contingent and paid for it from its own pocket - though it could only afford to send cyclists in the cross-country race.
MNCF president Abu Samah Wahab said competitors from 20 countries are expected to contest the championships, with nine nations already confirmed as of early last month.
Following in the concept of the annual Asian Cycling Championships, which hold the elite and junior events concurrently, this year's event will see for the first time the Asian Junior Mountain Biking Championships being contested alongside the elite meet.
MNCF's website said apart from hosts Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam have confirmed their participation.
Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Syria, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Uzbekistan are also expected to participate.
The last international event the national cycling team competed in was the Asian Cycling Championships held in Samarinda, Kalimantan, Indonesia from Aug 15-18 where they returned empty-handed.
Courtesy from Brunei Times