The title of king and queen of the mountain is the next goal for Wollongong cycling couple Kyle Ward and Samara Sheppard.
The partners have a real shot of winning the cycle leg of the Mount Keira Challenge on Sunday.
New Zealand-born rider Sheppard, who now calls Wollongong home, heads into the 6.5km road hill climb in ominous form.
The final round of the MTBA National Marathon Series will be held on October 16 but the 25-year-old cannot be beaten for the overall title.
Sheppard has won three of the six mountain bike races to date and will be crowned women’s champion.
Her partner-in-crime Ward has also enjoyed a tremendous series, and can finish no worse than third.
Ward believes the duo have a great chance of doing well on their home patch in the NSW Cycling sanctioned event on September 25.
“Being a state open event there should be some really good competition but just like any other race you don’t stand on the start line expecting anything else but to go for the win,’’ Ward said.
“The pair of us have been doing a lot of training at Mount Keira and hopefully that pays off on the day and we can come away with the win together.’’ The 24-year-old added competing in the MTBA National Marathon Series would only help the Illawarra Cycle Club members road racing.
“It’s a completely different [event] but we are race ready as we’ve been competing and training for a while now,’’ Ward said.
The Mount Keira Challenge (MKC) also includes a 10km and 5km fun run/walk.
As the name suggests, reaching the summit – on bike or on foot – is a test of mental and physical strength.
However, this year participants have been set a different kind of challenge – giving a voice to people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
MKC organisers have teamed up with not-for-profit FearLess Outreach, a charity helping those dealing with the consequences of post-traumatic stress.