Barberton XCM MTB Challenge riders in for a treat

5 December 2014

Words & Photos: Marina Coetzee

The small historical town of Barberton, bordering Swaziland, will once again play host to the Barberton XCM Mountain Bike Challenge, to be held on 31 January, 2015. Launched by the Barberton Rotary Club 19 years ago, this event is one of the oldest mountain bike races in the country and the growing number of riders that take part each year are testament to the event’s popularity.

Barberton is known for the Barberton daisy, but don’t let the beauty of this town fool you! The Barberton XCM Mountain Bike Challenge is not as delicate as a daisy, with the route being one of the toughest in the country. Although it is tough, it is also incredibly scenic. The route takes you up the Makhonjwa Mountains, with majestic views over the De Kaap Valley, through nature reserves, dams and very close to the Swaziland border. The Ultra Marathon cyclists will ascend to just under 1,800 m above sea level, while the 20 km Fun Ride cyclists will climb to just under 700 m above sea level.

Based on feedback received from some of the cyclists, the organisers have added an additional route, as well as amended some of the routes. Cyclists can now look forward to tackling single track, water crossings, cycling through wildlife estates and passing some 3.5 billion-year-old rocks; places where scientists believe was the first sea and origin of life.

Whether you are a pro or just looking for a fun day out with the whole family, there’s something for everyone with five different categories to choose from:
• The ‘very delicate’ 20 km Fun Ride
• The ‘delicate’ 30 km Half Marathon
• The ‘not so delicate’ 48 km Half Marathon
• The ‘not so delicate’ 77 km Full Marathon
• The ‘not so delicate’ 110 km Ultra Marathon

All races will start and end at the Barberton High School sports fields. With a festival-like atmosphere, there will be music and a few stalls to keep the fans and supporters entertained whilst waiting to welcome their heroes and heroines back from their thrilling adventure ride.

According to Nic Eksteen, President of the Barberton Rotary Club, this race is the perfect opportunity for cyclists to test their fitness and skill. Eksteen is very excited about the changes to the current routes, which are guaranteed to make the race not only more exciting but also challenging.

The Barberton Mountain Bike Challenge is definitely not as delicate as a daisy! So enter now to avoid disappointment. Pre-entries are open and you can enter at

More information

For more information regarding the routes and profiles, the Rotary, stalls, sponsorships, accommodation in town and tourist attractions, please visit To stay updated with all the latest news and updates follow us on Twitter @BarbertonXCM and Like us on Facebook at


The Rotary Club is giving away two complimentary entries, per category, to five lucky readers.

To stand a chance to win a set (two) of tickets for one of the categories, simply send an email to with the following in the subject line: ‘Loving the Barberton MTB Challenge’ and the category you want to enter.

The competition closes at midnight on Thursday, 18 December 2014. Prize winners will be drawn from all entries received. DO IT NOW’s competition rules apply. One entry per person. Please note that the prize does include transport to and from the event, accommodation or meals. By entering this competition, you give the Rotary Club/race organisers permission to send you information relating to the Barberton XCM Mountain Bike Challenge. CSA rules apply. This prize is not exchangeable or transferable and is only valid for the Barberton XCM mountain Bike Challenge, taking place on 31 January 2015 in Barberton, Mpumalanga.

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