Organising an event will always have its challenges. The original Nedbank Save the Rhino MTB Stage Race had more challenges than needed, so organisers called for a last minute venue change, a drastic change that could put any event under. But with great leadership, talented and passionate organisers, the event was saved and showed more promise than ever. TriSport SA and WildTrail SA have proved their love for the game with no task too big. Dedicated sponsors, passionate organisers, hard-core trail lovers drive to save a species, made the Nedbank Save the Rhino MTB Stage race an overwhelming success for the 4th year in a row.
The Nedbank Save the Rhino MTB Stage Race (STR MTB) is a tough 2 day stage race with the added extra of a one day option. The race covers a total distance of 110km with gruelling single track, rock roads, and offers the chance to see plenty wild animals. Ruby Cliff Trails not only provided open land, steep hills and game for all to see, they also had spent 3 months working on new single track trails just for the race offering an exclusive, never ridden before experience to all that participated. Forever Resorts also offered a fantastic winning prize to the ‘King of the Hill’ valued at R13 000, 00.
Mountain bikers, mostly from Gauteng took to the start of the Nedbank gantry and set off for 60km of untouched trails through 3 privately owned game reserves only to find unexpected rugged terrain. Jeep and Single tracks cut out by a weed eater and only walked ever now and then made for unusually technical ascents, treacherous descents and locations you cannot reach by car. While on trail, if you were one of the lucky few, you could spot Giraffe, Zebra and a whole host of buck. It was literally a rough and wild ride! Each trail section led you up a steep hill and alongside the odd cliff and encouraged you to test you skills on some really fun downhills. The views… Spectacular!
Before you knew it, you were half way in and making your way into a game lodge called Amanzi. The main feature here was a long rocky ride to the highest point of the mountain where you could view all of Loskop dam as you re-gathered your energy at the water point. Flat rock beds, loose pebbles and trails with long grass led you back to the final water point. From there it was an easy 10km ride back the finish along a fast jeep track section.
Tired from the long day in the saddle, relaxation was the only thing on the mind. So… a hot meal was served, an image presentation on for display and a live singer took to stage.
After a tough 1st day on the bike, no-ones legs were quiet ready for another 47km of day one’s kind of riding, and they didn’t have to be. Race Director Hano made every effort to cater for all, by mixing things up and surprising everyone with a faster, smoother course.
The day started with the same round-about, past a pretty dam which led the mountain bikers out of the first park. After a small loop, they found themselves making the climb up a valley heading right up the mountain in the most direct way. Once at the top, they were greeted by some single track through the smallest of forests and taken past the highest point, represented by a trig beacon. Soon after, they were sent on a fast circuit around a mealie farm. The simplicity of the jeep track, the rising sun and the sea of cosmos was in every way motivating. After crossing a river they were taken on one last technical ride alongside a valley as they headed back to the descent. The descent itself was something different. Riders normally boast about their love of switch backs, this time all the participants got that same rush of adrenaline as they were lead down the valley switching from side to side and they raced along a tame river. The last +/- 8km were simple, fast and mostly on jeep track as they led you back to the finish.
I don’t think anyone could spare a negative thought for this showcase event. We were all treated as guests at your favourite granny’s home; expected to sit down and relax and were served a fantastic meal known as mountain biking heaven.
With new sponsors, a new venue and more drive then ever… I cannot wait to see what will come from the Save the Rhino Trail event in a few weeks and next year’s MTB commemoration.
Next Event: Nedbank Save the Rhino Trail Stage Race
Date: 23rd to 24th May 2015
Words and Images: Terence Vrugtman | AdventureLife.co.za