Mountain bikers face fresh Sondela challenge
Participants in the Bestmed Sondela MTB Classic near Bela-Bela in Limpopo will be breaking new ground when the feature race offers a fresh challenge on Sunday.
Race director and chief course designer Mel Meyer said the 60km event had received a facelift that would give mountain bikers a completely different experience.
He said they felt the need to change the course to ensure it did not mirror the previous day’s 40km race.
“We have always wanted to change the route because the area around the Sondela Game Reserve is quite flat and we only really had ‘horizontal climbing’,” said Meyer.
“Now we are going out of Sondela and moving into some prestige bushveld properties where the landowners have given us access and allowed us to build some amazing single-track.
“Riders will go into an area where people normally don’t get to on bicycles and I can tell you that about 35 to 40km of the route is single-track.”
In creating the new trails, Meyer said his team’s philosophy was to create a route that would challenge the top riders without “scaring off the weekend warriors”.
“We want the serious riders to have a lot of fun, but we also want them to work.
“Although we only have about 500m of climbing over the 60km, participants mustn’t be fooled as that can be tough in this region.”
Meyer said there would be a gradual climb over the first 20km, followed by a sharp descent to the 30km mark.
He said this would be followed by a further 6km of climbing before the route descended to the finish via another small incline at the 57km mark.
Meyer said they were very excited about the new trail and felt they had achieved their objectives.
“We want the mountain biker who’s taking on his first 60km to have fun and not be scared away, while at the same time allowing the fast and skilled riders to have an awesome race.
“In terms of technical skills, I would rate it as moderate, although it will become advanced if you take it at pace.”
He said about 1 500 riders would take to the starting lines in what had been termed as the Bushveld’s annual Big MTB Bash.