The N3TC Royal Drak MTB Challenge has an awesome vibe. It starts early in the week as everybody gets sucked into the last minute trail preparations and marking missions. By the time Friday rolls around and the bicycle laden cars come pouring into the valley, you can almost taste the excitement. Even the weather got involved this year, with lovely soft rain in the week leading up to the race, and then beautiful bright sunshine on race day. The conditions were perfect…
The racing was fast! The 50km Extreme Classic is always a proper undertaking, with its 7km climb right off the bat and no recovery kilometers. In a world where so much is about comfort and convenience, it’s really inspiring to see these riders relish the challenge of this race. The first rider back was Gareth Cooke in a time of 2:30:38, hotly pursued by Klaas Meintjies in 2:39:44 and Lance Chapman in 2:40:34. We are also thrilled by the awesome results of the young riders in this race – 5th and 8th overall were Christiaan Van Dyk and Torin Mecklenborg, both of whom are Under 18s. The first lady home was Andrea De Boer in 3:09:16, followed by Sarah Drew in 3:12:31 and Daniella Lehav in 3:32:01.
The Montusi Mountain Lodge Intermediate race this year was extended to 30km, making it a marvellous challenge for those who find the 50 too daunting, but still want a worthwhile ride. Once again the young riders showed their talent, with PJ Kruger (Youth age group) coming in first overall in a time of 1:13:56. The first lady home was Camilla Mol in 1:47:25, and the first 12 and under rider was Noah Bedingham in 2:11:27. Really impressive results.
The Cavern Drakensberg Resort 10km Fun Ride is our very best event. We get such a kick out of seeing the determined little riders lining up at the start. The route is not easy – it’s all single track, and as we are IN the mountains, there is precious little flat terrain. Despite this, the kids get stuck in, and all finish with very little complaining. No doubt the sweets and treats at the Cavern’s midway water table help a lot! The first rider home this year was Xander Bakker in a time of 33:24. Xander was in the under 12 age group, proving again what a strong field of young riders we were fortunate to host. The first under 12 girl home was Grace Hoatson, in a time of 40:06. We were also really tickled to have Jean Pierre Ten Napel, winner of our 2011 Classic, complete the 10km with his family – complete with little daughter in the back pack!
All proceeds from the weekend go to the Royal Drakensberg Primary school, and this year for the first time we added a “Ride4Education” category. Here riders each raised R2500 in additional sponsorship for the school, and were recognised with a special Ride4Education jersey, and access to the awesome Ride4Eduction hospitality tent. In the tent they enjoyed snacks, drinks and a delicious spit braai. We are very grateful to aha Alpine Heath Resort for sponsoring the jerseys, meals and refreshments.
As always, All Out Adventures made for an awesome venue, with coffee and bacon and egg rolls on the go from first light, and no shortage of activities for the spectators. It was especially festive this year with Haibike and Volcan Mountain Bikes joining in the fun. Haibike brought along a pedal assit e-bike to demo. This bike comes complete with a 360v 250 watt Yamaha motor – no doubt some of those 50km riders were wishing for one on the Greenfire hill! Spectators and riders enjoyed test riding this bike until well into the afternoon. Check it out at www.haibike.com Volcan contributed to our fund raising efforts in a huge way by raffling a stunning Volcan mountain bike. There was much anticipation surrounding this, and the winner, Karl de Klerk from Harrismith, was most chuffed with his prize.
Speaking of prizes, there are never any shortages at the Royal Drak. We are so grateful to all our prize sponsors -awesome hampers, Funky Pants, Tower of Pizza vouchers and weekends away from The Cavern, Montusi and aha Alpine Heath, and not forgetting our trademark potatoes for all the podium placers from Sesisonke Farming!
Big thanks must also go to our incredibly generous sponsors – N3TC, aha Alpine Heath, Montusi Mountain Lodge, The Cavern and Action Coach. (Click here to book your free business coaching session.) Their financial, logistical and moral support combines to make a truly memorable day of all our riders.
We appreciate our landowner’s generosity in allowing us to access the trails through their properties. Their unwavering support ensures we can ride this pristine valley! We would also like to thank our T-shirt, goodie bag and product sponsors who all contribute to making the experience really special too.
The love and enthusiasm for the cause that underlies this event is always abundantly evident on race day. The amazing sense of being part of something bigger brings everyone together, and it’s a real privilege to be a part of it. We are so thankful to all the riders for being part of this wonderful weekend, and we look forward to seeing you in 2017.
Keep an eye on Facebook and the website for details.
P.S. If you loved the single track, don’t forget to register for Ridetheberg taking place at All Out Adventures 25 & 26 June 2016.
There is always a great buzz in the valley on race weekend and this year was no different. The weather was better than the forecast and Saturday’s warm up ride had a record number of attendees. This year riders could choose an easier or a harder route, and on each route the riders were divided into 3 ability groups, each of which was accompanied by a guide. This made for a really social morning and a great introduction to the trails.
The afternoon Cavern Family Tea ride / walks gets more popular every year, and this year the Cavern team served tea and scones to 91 happy participants.
Race day dawned sunny but cool, with the Adventure Centre abuzz from sun up with eager riders.
138 intrepid souls lined up for the 50km Three Cities Alpine Heath Extreme Classic and the lead out motorcyclist had to high tail it to keep ahead of them. The gruelling 7km climb past Alpine Heath to Greenfire Drakensberg Lodge soon split up the field, and the water table at the Lodge was really well received! This year’s 50km route included the new Alpine Traverse which follows a beautiful contour trail between Montusi Lodge and Alpine Heath. This portion of trail provided the 50km riders with a completely separate route to the 25km and 10km riders, and no overlap meant that the front runners had ample opportunity to put the hammer down. The first three riders finished in under two and a half hours – no small feat on a 50km route with over 1000 meters of climbing. First home was Brad Stroberg (2:23:13), followed by Nic White (2:26:34) with Greg Anderson in third place in 2:25:37. First lady home was Daniella Lahav in 3:15:16, followed by Diane White and Julia Colvin in 3:27:10 and 3:33:18 respectively. Some of the mid fielders got chased off the mountain with an out of nowhere storm, so many of the 50km starters have some unfinished business with this route, and we trust they will return in 2016 to finish it!
As always the 25km Montusi Mountain Lodge Intermediate attracted a great turn out, with participants ranging in age from sprogs (11 & 12 years) to Grand Master (60+). The 25km route is famous for its beautiful views and flowing single track, but there are several sneaky climbs that make it one of the more challenging 25km routes on the calendar, so we really take our hats off to the youngsters who tackle it with so much enthusiasm. Our first 12 and under boy home was Noah Bedingham in 2:15:46 and the first 12 and under girl was Tatum Seaward in 2:34:11. The overall men and ladies winners were Dumisani Hlongwane and Tracey Reynolds in a time of 1:12:57 and 1:44:23 respectively. We are also really excited to have the Granny and Grandad generation join in the fun, and we were most impressed with our first Grand Master Man finishing in a time of 1:48:21, and Montusi’s very own Gogo Jean clinching the Grand Masters Lady’s title in a time of 2:07:16
The 10km Cavern Drakensberg Resort and Spa Family Ride and run is always so heart-warming to be a part of. Again, the trail is not easy and it quite humbling to see so many little people putting their heads down and riding like the wind. The first 12 & under boy home was Yves Brigenshaw in a time of 36:11, just 4 minutes behind the overall winner Mathew Reynolds, who finished in 32:24. The first 12 and under girl was Caitlin Le Roux in a time of 47:10.
All Out Adventures hosts the event each year. We are thankful for the gorgeous space which is a wonderful base for all the spectators, supporters and provides so much to do while the race is on the go. Chris and Loretta’s contribution to the event means that it is a slick operation which an awesome network of trails, great organization and a festive hub from which it all happens.
We are also indebted to our great Royal Drakensberg teaching team for providing a fun and secure space for the children in the Kids Zone.
None of this would be possible without the riders, and we have received some great feedback:
Danie Bosman – “Best race ever! The trails is still the best I ever ridden and they just keep on getting better. Hats off to the trailbuilders. Will be definitely be back next year!”
Craig Hume – “I did the National MTB Series in Clarens 75km the day before and then did the 50km event with you guys. I think I have a fair chance of doing a relatively good comparison of the events: I can really say you guys are right up there with your trails. The 50km trail provided as technical a route as Clarens. Some of the climbs and descends were even more so.
The route provided enough options in the first few KMs to break up the field, letting the top guys get away quickly to really setup the race.
The organisation was slick and registration was a breeze.
After just finishing and feeling seriously broken, I was asked the question. Would I do this event again? Without hesitation, my answer was as definite YES!!
Well done on a super event!! See you in 2016 God willing”
Corlia Jacobs – “Wow wat ‘n ongelooflike race was baie lekker en volgende jaar is ons verseker terug vir nog meer adrenalien”
Erika Nel – “We would like to thank all involved for arranging this event. This has been our first, but be sure to know we will be back next time for the 50km. Thank you Allout Adventures for great location.”
Ian Davies – “Chris and the crew, thanks again for yet another great event. The trails this year were the best ever….well done Chris for all the hard work. I have unfinished business with that 50 km challenge….eish..”
Renée Mitchell – “Thank you for presenting such a well run event. The trails were first class and the scenery spectacular!”
Ana Scott – “This was such a stunning event! Thanks to all who made it possible! My favourite was cycling down the river & over the waterfall, oh yes, how can I forget, the best part for me was flying down the mountain! Thank you again!”
Big thanks must once again go to our title sponsor, N3TC whose generous support make so much possible, both with the race and with their year round support of our school. We are also very grateful to our race sponsors, Three Cities Alpine Heath Resort, Montusi Mountain Lodge and The Cavern Drakensberg Resort and Spa. Besides generous financial support they also offer invaluable assistance with the preparation of the trails leading up to the race and providing water tables and logistical support on race day. We would also like to thank our T-shirt, goodie bag and product sponsors who all contribute to making the experience really special for the riders.
Royal Drakensberg Primary School, the recipient of the proceeds from the race, continues to grow and flourish, with 70 children enrolled this year. Most of the children who attend the school come from the impoverished Amazizi area. Their experience at Royal Drakensberg literally changes their lives by providing them with a solid educational foundation that will enable them to thrive. Thank you for coming out in support of this very special cause.
We look forward to seeing you all again in 2016. Keep an eye on the website and facebook for pictures, updates and 2016 dates.
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