GRINDROD BANK BERG & BUSH GREAT TREK

Bicycling (South Africa) - - STORIES -

WHAT

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.

BIKE –

the Cam­ber was a no- brainer for this mix­ture of bushveld, an­i­mal tracks and hand­crafted sin­gle­track. Two buf­foons rode cy­clocross bikes. Beats me.

WHERE

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.

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