GRINDROD BANK BERG & BUSH GREAT TREK
Three options for riding sublime trails in the Central Drakensberg: the three-day Descent, the three-day Great Trek, or the original two-day.
LAST YEAR’S EVENT
Foul weather did its best to dampen spirits at this year’s Berg & Bush, but riders were having none of it. As always, the atmosphere was excellent and the trails world- class. Although all three days are exceptional, the reason to enter this event is to experience the final 14km Day 3 descent into Em’seni from the top of Spioenkop. In 2017, my goal was to improve on 2016’s middling 300th position, which I achieved by finishing 44th overall. However, that meant no time to stop and enjoy the bountiful water points or friendly banter with the locals. It’s a catch-22; this is a great event to race, but it’s also one best enjoyed at a sedate pace.
the Camber was a no- brainer for this mixture of bushveld, animal tracks and handcrafted singletrack. Two buffoons rode cyclocross bikes. Beats me.
Em’seni, just outside Winterton, KwaZulu-Natal.
WHY DO IT?
The Berg & Bush is a family-run event, with a massive heart. In 2017, before the first day of the Descent, rain hammered the area. To make sure the 99km stage was safe, race founder Gary Green woke up at 3am and rode the route before participants had a chance to unzip their tents ( he also got lost, on his own farm). That’s real commitment, from a man who just wants people to enjoy their mountainbiking experience.
The race village, wo-manned by a quartet of ladies – Gary’s daughters Roxanne and Spoen, the unflappable Jani Maritz, and the port-fancying Mrs Nikki Green – is a spectacular venue to end a day’s riding. Set on the banks of the Tugela River, there’s a large deck over the water, beanbags for everyone, and a bar that serves ice- cold craft beer for R10 a pop. Some riders ran up such impressive bar tabs that they had to ride off Spioenkop and straight to the airport.