Organisers of the Sondela MTB Classic, presented by ASG on June 29 and 30, will be shortening the 2013 feature race by 20km, without short-changing the riders.
Route director Melgard Meyer says the main race will now cover 60km in the picturesque Sondela Game Reserve north of Pretoria.
He says the decision came after requests came flooding in from the riding public and the organisers were happy to oblige.
Meyer, an avid mountain biker himself, says last year’s participants were faced with some sandy patches, which made the route varied but challenging. “This year we’ve gotten rid of most of the sand, as riders find it a bit hard.”
Meyer says more than 1 400 riders descended on the event last year, with this year’s being capped at 1 500 to prevent congestion on the route.
The first half of the 60km race sees participants leaving the start at Sondela Caravan Park and after a few kilometres they encounter the first single track, which continues for about 22km.
“Riders need to brush up on their technical skills for the first half of the race. We don’t keep them working by creating climbs; we make them work by giving them very technical sections.”
Meyer says the outstanding feature of the route is that it is 80 percent single track. “We’ve added a new loop of riveting single track that was specifically designed for the race.”
After a technical start, he says participants can look forward to a smooth, fast, flowing second half to the race.
“You can pass other riders on our single track. We specifically built it that way so that nothing slows your pace.”
Meyer originally started the race as a fundraising exercise for the African Conservation Trust and now aims to encourage mountain biking as an eco-friendly family sport.
Families can book a getaway at the resort any time of the year to ride the trails, which are marked every weekend.
Meyer says all three races are suitable for riders of varying degrees of fitness, as long as they have the technical chops.
Aside from the feature race, which takes place on the Sunday, there are also 20km and 40km options on the Saturday for those weekend warriors who would rather take in the scenery than put the pedal down.
The two shorter events feature more single track than last year and, while the 20km has around 100m of vertical climbing, the 40km sports a total ascent of only 186m.
Children between the ages of three and five can take part in a 500m ride on the first day, while six to eight year olds can try their hand at the 5km races on either the Saturday or Sunday.
Along with fantastic routes, the reserve will be rolling out the red carpet for riders staying within its boundaries. The entire caravan park will be dedicated to participants, which also means clean ablution facilities and ample parking for supporters.
In addition, there will be a host of vendors offering eats and drinks. A beer garden with live music rounds out the relaxed atmosphere.
The Sondela MTB Classic provides the perfect weekend retreat for the whole family and is nothing short of a bargain.
Registration is at Solomon’s Cycles in Pretoria East on Thursday, June 27, and at the Sondela Caravan Park pub on the Friday and Saturday.
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