The Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival’s brand new 50km Classic, 20km Ride and 10km Fun Ride events at Cascades MTB Park on Sunday 5 April are set to kick start the world famous KwaZulu-Natal mountain biking winter season, giving riders a chance to test themselves on the course that hosted the UCI MTB Marathon World Champs last year. With the crowd-pulling favourites like the Sappi Karkloof Classic, Nedbank sani2c and BSi Steel dusi2c as well as the popular Quattro ROAG Series’ remaining eight legs all drawing near, the 50km and 20km events represent a golden chance to clear away the cobwebs for many. Event director Alec Lenferna says: ‘More and more people are feeling the pinch of the current economic times and going away on holiday during the Easter period appears to be less and less common these days. Many MTB lovers will be looking for recreational opportunities during the Easter long weekend and mountain bikers will be hard pressed to find an excuse not to be part of the Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival!’
Few visitors to the province are expected to pass up the rare opportunity to tackle a top class race outside of their regular riding circles. Lenferna said: ‘Many of those likely to be heading down from Gauteng and surrounds – looking to take advantage of the extra-long holiday weekend – are avid cyclists as well. We are therefore looking forward to welcoming all those from up-country to Cascades this Easter, especially for Sunday’s 50km, 20km and 10km events!.’ The three-day mountain biking fiesta’s full schedule offers riders the chance to both participate in one or more of the wealth of events across the variety of disciplines and/or watch some of the top local and international stars in action.
Lenferna said: ‘The Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival’s programme includes events for all ages and abilities across all major mountain biking disciplines so there is something suitable for and of interest to everyone. We expect Sunday’s mass participation events to be very popular as the courses have been designed with the area’s extensive natural beauty and uniquely African experiences in mind.’ Amateur and social riders alike can look forward to a challenging yet manageable outing while the 50km Classic course’s inclusion of much of the routes used for last year’s UCI MTB Marathon World Championships and Rainbow Challenge offers beauty and MTB variety of international appeal. Riders start by contouring their way out of Cascades’ forests and heading for Albert Falls Dam before a trip through the Edmonds’ Farm brings them to the uniquely African cycling experience of a journey through Mt Verde’s game reserve.
The day’s one and only tough climb out of the valley and up to Otto’s Bluff will get the heart beating and blood pumping however the extra bead of sweat is soon justified as at the top, cyclists are treated to the breath-taking views of Albert Falls Dam, Karkloof, Hilton College and surrounds before going through the downhill gate as they start the final stretch home. The home ‘straight’ adds a final pinch of spice to the day’s mix as riders are kept on the edge of their seats with a maze of twisting, turning cross country-like obstacles all the way to the finish line. The 2015 Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival takes place at Cascades MTB Park from 3-5 April.
More information on the Pietermaritzburg Mountain Bike Festival and the event’s full programme can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-pmb-mtb-festival
Photo credit: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media