The Berg and Bush mountain bike race celebrates 10 years of existence this year but new ablution facilities and luxury-style camping will ensure that the “decade of dirt” catchphrase refers only to the single-track trails. Race founder Gary Green said cyclists’ needs had changed substantially since he started the event with just 56 participants back in 2006: ‘When the race first started, everyone stayed in dome tents with rudimentary ablutions, as this was the only option. Today there’s a big need to offer more comfortable alternatives.’ The event now accommodates 2 500 mountain bikers over three different racing options. He says: ‘We felt the need to build new and permanent ablutions, because it’s very important to us to offer hot showers and clean bathrooms.’ Green said these would be finished by October, when the race takes place, and would be used in addition to the existing facilities at the Emseni Camp race village near Spioenkop. We’re quite excited about the new building as there will be “showers with a view” overlooking the Tugela and our new luxury tented camp.’ He said a good night’s sleep would also be essential for improving a rider’s performance and recovery.
To this end, Green and his team are planning to create an entire village of roomier safari tents along the Small Tugela, some 500m from the main race village. He says: ‘The view is amazing and so is the tranquil atmosphere. The campsite is on the riverbank under a canopy of massive trees and the tents will be pitched on a carpet of leaves next to the flowing river.’ He said the plan was to have 50 tents with comfortable stretcher beds, pitched in five-tent laager formations: ‘These are aimed at companies who would like to bring their clients along, or groups of friends. We’ll supply a shuttle service for these guests so they can still enjoy the atmosphere at the main race village.’
For those who prefer even more indoor comfort, he said there were many B&Bs, hotels and self-catering options in nearby Winterton and the Central and Northern Drakensberg. The smaller four-man dome tents would still occupy their traditional spot along the riverbank, added Green. Each team in the three-day Descent (October 9 to 11) and original two-dayer (October 17 to 18) will be allocated a tent to share, while riders in the Great Trek (October 13 to 15) will have a solo tenting option.
Photo credit: Kelvin Trautman