In just under a month, the 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush will get underway with the three-day Descent, quickly followed by the Great Trek and rounded off by the original and wildly popular 2 Day. All together, it’s eight days of mountain biking that adds a buzz to the usually tranquil atmosphere of the languidly flowing Tugela River, the banks of which are home to the Berg & Bush Em’seni race village.
With around 2700 cyclists expected over the course of the three events, the race village will be a hive of activity, especially the Centriq Chill Zone. It’s here that riders can relax while overlooking the river, enjoying the best beers in the ‘Berg courtesy of the Cape Brewing Company and enjoy the fine wines of Fairview.
As usual, the Berg & Bush goes out of its way to make the rider experience the real reason to return to the Drakensberg-based event year after year. Trail tweaks, rider jersey upgrades and a host of race village treats lie in wait for this year’s lucky entrants.
In keeping with their ambition to constantly raise the bar, the Berg & Bush has partnered with revered KwaZulu-Natal artists Ardmore Ceramic Art to create a pleasingly elegant cycling jersey for the 2017 event. Riders will receive the jersey in their 2017 Berg & Bush goodie bag.
Off-bike activities will include the renowned history talk that takes place on top of Spioenkop, with local historians recounting the ill-fated 1900 tussle between the Boers and the Brits that took place on the hill. The talk is accompanied by sweeping views of the surrounding area, making it the most scenic history lesson in the country.
On the weekend of the Descent, the tussle on Spioenkop will be between the hardiest entrants, as they tackle the Volvo Spioenkop Summit, a blazingly bonkers 2km sprint from the bottom of the hill to the top. With a whopping R20 000 in prize money for the male and female winners, it’s probably the best per kilometre payday in local mountain biking. During the 2 Day, the Volvo Spioenkop Summit will be held again, with the first male and female rider bother taking home R5000.
On the trail front, new developments include an upgraded Longdrop Pass down Spioenkop – built by Rob Dormehl of Garden Route Trail Park – and rejuvenated berms on the famous Bell Run. New single track routes have also been built for the event’s “trail grail” day two.
With day one of the Descent and Great Trek clocking in at approximately 99km, riders can look forward to a serious leg loosener before unleashing their madcap trail-riding skills on days two and three, both comfortably shorter in distance than the opening stage.
The improvements also extend to the campsite lodgings; to make the Berg & Bush feel even more like your own bedroom, the event is now offering improved tents in the Kudu and Kingfisher Camp. Here, riders can enjoy a large canvas safari tent with two beds and mattresses. No bending over, no rustling tent in the breeze and no jostling for position if you happen to be sharing. Although jostling for position might be the order of the day at the bar.
The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush takes place near Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal. The first event, the Berg & Bush Descent starts on 6 October 2017.
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) September 7, 2017