The N3TC Royal Drakensberg MTB Challenge
29 & 30 April 2014 @ All Out Adventures
What a blessing to be part of an event that just gets better every year. Once again it was a real privilege to have on board our title sponsor, N3TC as well as our race sponsors, Three Cities Alpine Heath Resort, Montusi Mountain Lodge and The Cavern Drakensberg Resort and Spa, and a myriad of goodie bag and prize sponsors. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to all the landowners in the valley who allow access to their land for these awesome trails, and the tireless volunteers who put it all together.
Autumn really is a special time in the Drakensberg and race weekend dawned sunny and still with mild temperatures. The light rain in the week preceding the event helped settle the dust and compact the new sections of trail, and by Saturday the All Out Adventures trails team, who had worked like crazy men all week, were well satisfied with their efforts. The stage was set for another awesome weekend of mountain biking.
Saturday’s events gave participants a chance to get a taste of the trails, with a 20km Fun Ride / Run in the morning and a 10km Family Ride / Walk in the afternoon. In hind sight the 20km Fun Ride should probably have been billed as a “warm up ride” as the route through the Wanhoop Valley was pretty tough – the first guy home was heard to remark that “If that was the Fun ride I’m terrified to see what the race is like.” Well the race isn’t called the Extreme Classic for nothing! Our highlight of the morning was the 7 year old twin girls who completed the whole tough 20km route, despite several offers to rescue them with the vehicle. This amazing display of determination and guts is what makes this sport so great. The Family Ride / Walk to the river for tea in the afternoon was, once again, a huge success, with nearly 100 people enjoying the tea and scones provided by The Cavern Drakensberg Resort. It was so lovely to see families out enjoying the mountains together. A special thanks to our vehicle sweepers who were available to load up the tired children after tea and give them a lift back to All Out Adventures.
Sunday was Race Day, and All Out Adventures was buzzing from dawn. There was much trepidation as riders perused the race profile for the Three Cities Alpine Heath 50km Extreme Classic. Kids couldn’t wait to get into the Kids Zone and participate in the exciting program put on by the staff from Royal Drakensberg Primary School, and everybody enjoyed the egg & bacon rolls, and the giant cappuccinos. Registration went smoothly and the first 100 entrants were really chuffed with their race t-shirts.
The Three Cities Alpine Heath 50km Extreme Classic got underway promptly at 09h00, with a field of 138 intrepid riders. The route once again included the brutal 7km climb up to the base of the sandstone cliffs behind the Drifters Drakensberg Lodge, and the gnarly Nook Road descent past Montusi Mountain Lodge. The track then climbed up again to the Grotto Trail behind the Cavern Drakensberg Resort. This year the strategically placed water table on the Cavern’s front lawn probably resulted in more riders finishing the race – last year many riders got one look at the Cavern climb and just headed back down the tar to All Out Adventures! So a big thanks to The Cavern team for that! The first rider home was USN’s Henry Uys, in a cracking time of 2:15:59. He was followed closely by Sthembiso Msango and Mboneni Ngcobo from the RMB Change a Life MTB team in a time of 2:16:52 and 2:23:32. The first lady home was Jeannie Dreyer in a time of 2:30:47, followed by Velo’s Ashleigh Moffat and Carla van Huysteen in a time of 2:39:43 and 2:42:43
The Montusi Mountain Lodge 25km Intermediate had a great turnout of 112 riders of all ages. It was really gratifying to see how many younger riders came out to challenge themselves on this course. The route mad a gentle start on the Gypsy’s Bend Trail before climbing up towards Motusi and where it followed the scenic Montusi Gorge Trail. The water table manned by the team from Montusi Lodge at the top of the sneaky run way climb was well stocked with tasty treats which refuelled the riders for the fast descent into the Puterill’s Valley, and the tricky final climb up the switch backs from the Waterfall Cave up Dassie Pass. The first rider home was Wiehan Prinsloo in a time of 1:16:41, followed by Torin Mecklenborg (Sub Junior) in a time of 1:20:44 and Murray Makepeace in 0:24:02. The first lady home, Sindy Theunissen finished in a time of 1:35:05 followed by Joscik Watkins in 1:38:05 and Charlee Du Ploy in1:43:14. The 12 and under Category was won by Liam Theunissen (Boys) in a time of 1:35:24 and Olivia Bedingham (Girls) in a time of 2:29:49 – a really awesome effort by these young riders.
The Cavern Drakensberg Resort 10km Fun Ride is always a great event with so many young children taking part. Although this route follows a gentle gradient, it is primarily on single track and so is quite challenging for beginners. It is always wonderful to see how these little people rise to the occasion and finish the race. The abundance of treats at the Cavern water table at the half way point resulted in lots of smiles and the extra boost that the riders needed to finish the course. The first boy (12 & under) home was Ryan Cooper in a time of 00:37:26 followed closely by the first girl Cheyenne Bergstrom in a time of 00:10:25. Second girl was Lillian Baber in 00:41:13 followed by the second boy Matt Zunckel in 00:43:56.
What makes this event so special is the very important cause it supports. All the proceeds from the weekend go the Royal Drakensberg Primary School which fills a great need for holistic education of a high standard in our area. Royal Drakensberg Primary provides the children who attend with a solid grounding which allows them to thrive and grow into contributing members of the community. It is a beautiful microcosm of South African society that caters for children from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities. The school stands as a beacon of what is possible in terms of education for children in our area. We are so very grateful to all the participants who came out in support of this cause.
Keep an eye on the Facebook page for photos and 2015 dates. We look forward to seeing you then.