RIDE TO MPUMALANGA
– Yoh! I am typing this note with my hands cause my legs are finished!
– What an epic morning this was, I think this one will be spoken about by many for some time to come.
– Close to 50 riders pitched at Pembi HQ (Hazeldean Square) for another interesting Pembi ride, this time to go tag the Mpumalanga Border, a +- 100km round trip.
– The group split into 2 groups, one aiming to do 116km and average around 23km/h and the other 104km at 18-20km/h. The weather was perfect, the scene was set.
– The pace of group 1 was hot from the beginning, most of us knew this was going to hurt. We ended up with an average for the 110km ride of just over 24km/h. It seems group 2 averaged just over 20km/h. Both groups going faster than expected, quite something of you think that it is quite tricky to manage groups of such sizes. Kudos to everyone, clearly Pembis know how to ride together.
– A few highlights:
– Very special when both groups arrived at the Mpumalanga border at exactly the same moment, the faster group having taken a 12km longer route. A pic of my GPS track below shows the special moment we crossed the border.
– Thanks Sylvia Du Raan for leading the group 2 ride.
– Special mention to Henk Bakker who was sweeper for group 1. Thank you Henk, you did an awesome job! Same off course to the group 2 sweepers.
– Also a special word to Jaco Ferreira who could have rode a double loop in the same time, he helped pull the bunch in the wind and then turned back at T-junction to guide the sweeper group in. Classy. Thanks Jaco.
– A big congratulations to everyone to completed this ride today, it was an epic and pretty hard work. Also one I will remember for a long time. If it was your first century ride, well done, you are a rock star.
– Today we rode to Mpumalanga and back!
– Now treat yourself to a cold beer and get your feet up, your body deserves it!
Pembi: Pretoria East MTB (https://www.facebook.com/groups/134361270058168/)
Tagging the Gauteng/Mpumalanga Border
BERG & BUSH RACE REPORT
What an awesome 3 days of glorious mountain biking. My excitement finally erupted this morning at the end of Stage 3 when I could no longer hold back and shouted my exhilaration out loud after flying down a stretch of sweeping single track while the TV helicopter was hovering overhead, tracking Bertus Luus and I as we are going full gas! What an adrenaline rush!
– Few races have character like Berg and Bush. It comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
– We rode on top of the world on a stretch called Great Wall my China with endless vistas over Woodstock dam, direction Drakensberg. If one knew where to look one could see the Amphitheatre, Cathedral and Champagne in one view. Simple breathtaking.
– Then we dropped down 16km of hand groomed single track called Sollie’s Folly, named in recognition of the farmer who built & maintains the trail. It’s superb!
– We rode down Pufadder Pass, sweeping S-bends down a hill with natural berms guiding one down, until this empties out next to the Tugela river. We rode up Mike’s Pass, we rode up Lantana Pass, we rode an Oxwagon Pass. The beauty is all of these are very fair, rideable for the average rider and reward with incredible single track of breathtaking views once on top.
– On the final day we rode up the infamous Spionkop, a steep paved road that rewards those who don;t put a foot down with a sticker to remember the feat.
– On Friday evening we drove up to Spionkop to listen to the tragic history of the hill where Boers & English sacrificed so much for the sake of victory only to realize very little. The monuments and graves are there as a reminder of this battle.
– The crowning glory of this race is the final 17km downhill from the top of Spionkop to the finish line at Em’Semi on the banks of the Tugela. One of the best rides you will ever do in your life! I want to shout out all over again! Steep drop-offs on the edges, big berms, jumps, sweeping single track, the kind of trails you want to ride over and over and over and over again!
– So many more riding highlights, I hope I dream about these a lot in the next few days! Going to watch the promo video over again a few times to help me remember the special times. Very blessed!
– The camp is worth a mention. All the tents are on the banks of the Tugela river under tree cover. Quite something! A highlight was to jump into the river at tent 550 and then to drift down to tent 1, it was the only way to cool down from the incredible heat.
– Finally a word on the organisation. I naturally shy away from big crowds and I am totally allergic to queues. Our race had 1200 riders but it felt like there were only 300. Longest queues weer maybe 5 mins, mostly no queues. There was an endless supply of cold water & cold drinks, no idea how they managed this. No food queues with many serving stations. Farmer Gary and his team have this event perfected and deserve a big congratulations.
– Last word goes to the weather. The areas we rode through are drought stricken. The dams are empty, the surface is very dusty and the farmers are in dire need of rain. They opened their farms to us, put up the best water points I have personally seen and built some of the best trails you will ever rain. May God bless them and bring relief to their drought!