Words & Photos: Jacques Marais
Next year, grab your chance to do a mountain bike stage race through an incredible Big 5 reserve, while at the same time contributing towards the survival of rhinos in South Africa.
My job takes me to spectacularly beautiful places, that’s for sure, and this past weekend was certainly a case in point. It is not that I specifically enjoy hanging around golf courses, but the one at Legend Golf & Safari Resort is top of the list if ever you're planning on chasing a small, dimpled ball.
The dramatic backdrop provided by the Waterberg and the surrounding bush veldt plains also make Legend the perfect venue for a mountain biking stage race, which was why I found myself up here in Limpopo’s back-of-beyond.
The event that brought me up here was the Nedbank Save the Rhino 2-day MTB Stage Race, and I was fortunate enough to have an extra day to recce the route. We spent much of our time getting up close and personal to the white rhinos of Legend Resort, and getting everything set up for a spectacular and memorable ride in the morning. And I'm not going to say anything about that monster climb up Hanglip Mountain ...
The first day of Nedbank's Save The Rhino 2-day MTB event will be remembered as a day of huge climbs and stunning riding along the edge of the escarpment for the fortunate field of mountain bikers who came to attend this feel-good event.
An easy-go-lucky 08h30 start by the organisers, TriSports SA, saw riders ascend the gruelling mountain pass, which wound like a giant mamba up to the high Waterberg peaks that overlooked the Legends Golf & Safari Resort.
Once on the plateau, the competitors cranked through herds of plains game and past the occasional lone rhino. These prehistoric-looking beasts standing silent were testament to the contribution every rider was making to their survival.
With red-hot disk brakes (I am not lying!), riders blasted back down into the valley for a dusty dash through wild syringa and marula trees, before finally crossing the finish line after a tough 60 km ride. Fritz Pienaar took no prisoners on the day, cruising home as if out on a fun ride, without breaking too much of a sweat.
Never, ever, ever in my life have I experienced a mix of mountain biking and wildlife like this morning, at Legend Resort! The plains ended up being a manically fantastic melee of riders, with impala fly-pasts, giraffe arabesques, and darting warthog.
It was an absolutely spectacular scene to shoot, but I am very pleased we had no #bucknorris incidents. The rest of the day was rather tame in comparison for the riders, although some found it a hard and fast blast along the flattish 75 km track.
Fritz Pienaar led the field home (he was also one of the Avendurance organisers, he was racing unofficially though), with competitors loving the laid-back and friendly feel of the event.
For more information on the Save the Rhino trail running and mountain biking events, as well as all the results, go to www.nedbankgreen.co.za or www.trisport.co.za