Mountain bike champ back in the saddle

Three-time ex-New Zealand women’s downhill mountain bike champ, Alanna Columb, returned to competitive sport this month — five years after an horrific bike crash almost claimed her life.

Changing sports, the 35-year-old competed in two extreme motocross-type events that pushed her to the limit.

In the EnduroX at the Christchurch A&P Showgrounds she claimed the NZ title by being the only woman in the field.

The following day, still on her KTM 250cc freeride bike she’s had for a year, she competed in the gruelling Nutbuster Hard Enduro in North Canterbury, placing third in the women’s field of six.

Columb says she led for ‘‘at least a good hour, possibly longer’’ before going into ‘‘full survival mode’’ for the following two-and-a-half hours.

‘‘It was relentless the whole way — it’s the hardest type of riding you can do.

“I was totally out of my comfort zone, but I’ve got the skill so that’s what got me through.’’

And, on a different bike, she’s confident she can win next year.

Meantime, Columb’s starting her new business, The AC Project, the initials referring both to her name and to ‘advancing confidence’.

This involves mountain bike and motorbike tuition as well as yoga, ‘‘so I work with the mind and the body’’.

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