Howick MTB Enduro gets facelift

2017-03-07 06:00
The revamped Enduro course for the Sappi Howick MTB Classic weekend has attracted the interest of many of the top Enduro and downhill pacesetters like Tiaan Odendaal. Photo: Gavin Ryan

The revamped Enduro course for the Sappi Howick MTB Classic weekend has attracted the interest of many of the top Enduro and downhill pacesetters like Tiaan Odendaal. Photo: Gavin Ryan

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THE MTB Enduro that starts the weekend festival of riding at the Sappi Howick MTB Classic on Saturday 4 March is getting a bold make-over.

As a result of the regular harvesting of the plantations, the five-stage enduro course has been moved to the plantations between the Curry's Post Road and the N3 freeway, giving the event a total facelift for 2017.

The established trails have been supplemented by newly cut sections and interesting features, such as the blue shale quarry at the bottom of the trail network which has been pulled into use for added fun.

"All-in-all, the plantation closures have encouraged innovation and creativity, which the riders get to experience first-hand at the Enduro on March 4," said course designer Gavin Ryan.

The Enduro was added to the popular Sappi-sponsored MTB Classic for the first time last year.

The Enduro race format is unique in that riders are un-timed on the “liaison stages”, which are usually stiff climbs to a high point, after which they clock in using timing chips to race one of several timed sections to the bottom of a mapped out course.

Enduro racing has gained popularity across the country, with 135 entries at the first round of the KZN MTB Enduro Series held at St Ives on February 12. The event saw 19 female entries from Sprog through to Masters, and it is hoped this trend will continue throughout the year.

The revamped courses for the Enduro and the Sunday's three marathon events spanning rides of 40km, 20km and 10km are part of a natural migration around the extensive plantations in the region, as the forestry production needs change year-on-year.

"Howick locals expect riders to know how to pedal – not just bomb down hills," said Enduro enthusiast Kathryn Fourie, runner-up in the women's Enduro race last year to Charné Dreyer.

While entries have started to flood in for the Enduro, which attracted over 100 riders last year despite a clash with the regional XCO Calendar, the Howick Enduro should attracts most of the discipline's pace setters, including Craig Paul, Tiaan Odendaal, local Keira Duncan and Shane Martin.

In the women's event Sabine Thies, who missed the Enduro last year could square up to Fourie and Dreyer as well as the class of riders like Amy Jane Mundy.

More information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za - Supplied.

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