Zipping through the bush

2009-11-07 00:00

THE 2009 Natro Berg and Bush, presented by N3TC, was staged last weekend in the picturesque Winterton and Spionkop areas of the northern KZN Drakensberg and attracted a capacity field of 400 riders (200 teams) for what has been reported as the best version of this event in its four-year history.

The event is probably the most relaxed and social event on the mountain biking calendar; however, there was some top racing going on at the front of the field. Both days were won by Team Thule’s Jeremy Thompson and David Leiman.

The event included two stages over 65 km (day one) and 50 km (day two).

It’s not just any mountain bike race though, as concepts such as the boat crossing and zip line on day one and two respectively indicate.

“The boat crossing really is unique, and is something that we introduced last year with great success,” explained co-organiser Stuart Berry.

“Riders are taken across a two-kilometre stretch of Spionkop Dam on speedboats by local farmers, and it provides an experience never before seen on a mountain bike race in the world.

“The zip line follows the same purpose, and provides riders with a break in their day, while combining a unique experience and fun to enhance their experience. That is all about what the event represents and aims to achieve.”

This weekend sees the introduction of an addition to the Berg and Bush: the Natro Berg and Bush “Descent”, a three-day stage concept that includes the two-day format of the popular traditional event, adding an additional day of 85 km that takes riders form the Free State down the Voortrekker tracks of Retief’s Pass and Bezuidenhoudts Pass down into KwaZulu-Natal.

MULTISPORT

There is just one week to go to the eighth edition of the Triple Challenge, which takes place next Sunday, 15 November. Entries close on Monday, 9 November — enter at www.triplechal lenge.co.za

The event comprises a 20 km off-road run from the start at Polly Shorts Spar, Pietermaritzburg, to the first transition point at Camperdown, followed by a 55 km mountain bike leg through the Valley of a Thousand Hills to Inanda Dam and the second transition point — at which stage athletes can either choose a 20 km paddling leg on Inanda Dam (the Multisport race) or a six-kilometre trail run (the MultiX race).

Participants may enter as an individual or in various team combinations.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

SA’s top mountain biking marathon specialists are in town this weekend for the final event in the MTN National Marathon Series, which takes place from Grace College, Hilton, tomorrow morning. The event caters for all levels of mountain bikers over the following races:

• MTN National Ultra-Marathon (115 km): Start at 8.15 am. Longest individual MTB race in KZN. A really tough course to test the elite. Flowing single track, rugged hills, plantations, farmland and bushveld.

• MTN National Marathon (75 km): Starts at 8.25 am. New 14 km game farm section included this year. Less total ascent, but still one to challenge the fit riders. Possibly the most scenic ride in the country.

• MiWay National Half-Marathon (40 km): Starts at 8.55 am. Last 15 km different to last year. This ride has bits of everything: bits of the pro-course, but easy bits too.

• aQuelle Farm Ride (20 km): Starts at 9.15 am. Guaranteed all who ride this race will enjoy it. Interesting scenery and lots of fun.

• Warmington’s Whizzer (5 km): Starts at 9.20 am. Put a smile on the kids’ faces. Medals and sweat packs for all finishers.

Registration and late entries will be taken between 6.30 am and 8.15 am tomorrow morning at Grace College.

• The second edition of the OUTsurance KZN Expedition takes place on November 22. Backed up by Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World and Giba Gorge as world-class host venues, the routes for the two distances – 70 km and 40 km — are simply stunning and offer riders the chance to tackle some of the best mountain-bike terrain between the Valley of a Thousand Hills and Durban.

There are massive logistics involved on the 70 km route with various river crossings. The most spectacular crossing is undoubtedly the 600 metre pipe bridge, which presents itself around 20 km from the finish. It’s a truly exhilarating experience being suspended 300 m in the air on a wooded latched bridge while you cross the river. The bridge is well marshalled and the marshals will help riders across.

The 40 km event (and final 40 km of the 70 km ride) takes place on the second stage of the Dusi Mfula route with the exception of Burma. In the Expedition, riders will go around Burma and not over. The 40 km event gives less accomplished riders an opportunity. Enter at www.outsur ance.co.za

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