MOUNTAIN bikers from across the province are gearing up to join the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast’s off-road cycling fraternity at the 2016 Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race on Sunday, 14 August. The launch of the five-race South Coast MTB Series earlier this year has seen a heightened interest in the region’s major cycling events and the series “sea” leg again promises to offer participants a unique, coastal MTB experience as they soak up the magnificent winter weather. Organised by the Cycling for Mobility team, the Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race serves as the primary fund raiser for the organisation that strives to purchase and distribute wheelchairs to disabled members of underprivileged communities in the area. Starting and finishing at Scottburgh main beach, all three of the event’s races – the 45km Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race, 28km Dash and Splash and the 10km family fun ride – give riders a spectacular scenic cycling adventure as they wind their way through the region’s variety of terrains. From the single track through Sappi’s Canonbrae plantations, meandering jeep track through the region’s sugar cane, a brief trip through the South Coast landmark, Crocworld and finally, the much-anticipated final stretch across the sand, over the lagoon and up to the finish line on the grass bank. Routes also include some testing yet rewarding ascents totalling 800m of climbing together with some fast and furious downhill stretches as well as natural forest sections, switchbacks and some open district road riding. While much of the top class event competitors have come to expect and enjoy in recent years remains the same, organisers continue to tweak things – such as the addition of a bridge over a particularly troublesome gully – to ensure they continually raise the bar. Curiously, the event has never enjoyed a multiple men’s winner with the likes of Shaun Peschl and Andrew Warr (both Kargo Pro Cycling Team), Nic Porteous, the late Burry Stander, Evan van der Spuy, Tyronne White (PYGA Industries/Thule) and Brendon Davids (Trek SA) all having claimed just a solitary crown. An equally remarkable trend exists on the women’s front, with a South Coast local having claimed victory in six of the seven Scottburgh clashes to have been staged to date since the event’s washed out debut in 2008. Hayley Smith (Kargo Pro Cycling Team) remains the race’s only multiple champion while the likes of Bianca Haw (Red Bull/Specialised), Cherise Stander, Brenda Potts and Candice Parker-Dennison have also claimed the ladies’ spoils previously. Over and above the 10km family fun ride, the 2016 Sappi Scottburgh MTB Race also offers the family friendly Halfway Toyota Kids Zone, managed by teachers from Umkomaas Pre-school, ensuring the family can enjoy their dose of the South Coast’s fresh air and warm sunshine. “In sponsoring the entire South Coast series, we believe the MTB fraternity will continue to recognise our destination as an ideal cycling and adventure venue,” said Ugu South Coast Tourism CEO, Justin Mackrory. - Supplied.