Friday, March 1 is a red-letter day for mountain bikers with entries opening for all three of the massively popular Grindrod Bank Berg and Bush events.
Riders have a choice of three events: Descent, Great Midweek and The 2 Day Original. All three provide participants with a very different but always rider-centric experience.
The Descent is for the racing snakes who are intent on riding as quickly as possible with the focus is on speed and skill. The Great Midweek is for riders who enjoy mountain biking away from the crowds and The 2 Day Original if for those who cannot escape from the office or want to share their experience with family, friends and colleagues.
All Photos by Em Gatland / Berg & Bush
The opening day of the Descent includes arguably the best piece of mountain bike racing in the country in its 98km downhill route. Shortly after the start riders traverse the top of the spectacular Drakensberg Escarpment before winding their way down Solly’s Folly and the new Drakensberg Drop to the overnight camp at Em’seni just outside Winterton. Day 2, at 62km, is a beautiful experience of cattle trails in the KZN bushveld, while the 48km Day 3 is more single track heaven with the historic Spioenkop Mountain creating a tough challenge to make up for the relatively short distance. The reward for the steep 14-bump climb is 13km of flowing mountainside single track back to Em’seni.
The Great Midweek provides the biggest changes at any of the events this year with riders no longer starting the second three day event at the top of the Escarpment. The midweek event is aimed at riders who like some space when they ride and are less concerned with speed, targeting riders who would rather simply enjoy the experience. All three days start and finish at Em’seni with the new Day 1 giving riders more of a bushveld experience – while also doing away with the need for shuttles and drivers to get cars to the overnight stop.
The final event is the Two Day which incorporates the final two days of the three-day event and targets riders who want to ride with family and friends.
All three events include kilometre after sublime kilometre of wonderful hand-built single track with a variety of camping options at the Em’seni camp site – under a canopy of trees on the shady banks of the Tugela, this is possibly the best overnight camp site of any mountain bike event in the country – or riders can stay in the variety of B&Bs in the Winterton area.
The Descent takes place on Friday to Sunday, October 4-6, the Great Midweek is from Tuesday to Thursday, October 8-10, and The 2 Day Original is on Saturday and Sunday, October 12-13.
Entries for the three-day events are R12 700 per team of two riders or R6 600 for a solo rider, and R9 200 for a team of two for the 2-day event (no solo riders). The entry fee includes the “pure Berg & Bush trails”; race village with three meals a day and 24-hour coffee, tea, juice and crunchie station; medical support on the route; and water points.
The entry fee excludes accommodation costs, freeing up riders to stay in B&Bs or to pay for the camping with prices varying depending on the tenting options at the race village.
For more information visit the Grindrod Bank Berg and Bush website.