Cycling fast, over tough trails, is a way of life for Johann ‘Pottie’ Potgieter. (Photo: Johann Potgieter/Leatt)
As a seven-time national champion, six times in downhill and once in enduro, Johann ‘Pottie’ Potgieter is a companion to the South African mountain bike scene.
Having started riding professionally in 2011, the 35-year-old rider has traveled the world with his skills on the bike. It allowed him to race and test himself against the best, and also became a vehicle that introduced him to career paths he never thought he would pursue.
Ride24 had the opportunity to chat with Potties before he left for Europe, to compete in Les GetsFrance, at the 2022 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
The experienced downhiller has been hitting the slopes for about 22 years and has had the opportunity to discover South African and international slopes, mainly in Europe.
Fittingly, Pottie got his first taste of international racing at Les Gets in 2004, for the South African junior selection.
“The very first time I was exposed to international racing was in 2004 when I was selected for the South African Juniors to compete in the World Championships in Les Gets, France. […] Since then, I was sort of racing abroad, taking unpaid leave, but still racing. But from 2011, I started running full time,” says Potgieter.
“[This World Championship in France] is quite special, because that’s where I did my first year as a junior. So now I’m coming back for the world championships 18 years later.”
With the pinnacle of mountain biking hosted in Europe, South Africans may find it difficult to travel up north, especially financially. Finding funding often makes the difference between a runner who arrives in Europe and another who does not.
Racing for the Rainbow Nation has always been a huge privilege for Potgieter. The excitement he had riding for his country at 17 is still with him at 35, as he seeks to compete against the world’s best.
“Results abroad weren’t what I was looking for. There are a bunch of difficult factors [for riders like me]. We don’t have a lot of time to do testing, to dial in the bike, and that’s super important considering the movement you have to do on the bike and the high-speed tracks,” says Potgieter.
“Saying that, I’ve had some good results locally. I’ve won the SA Championships again this year, so I don’t feel too bad. So, I’m hoping for a good run at the World Championships because it’s is a great honor to pass this South African shirt over your head.”
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