Mountain bikers can look forward to riding eco-friendly, hand-cut trails in one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas when they sign up for The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Addo on the 1st of February.
The mountain biking segment of the cycle tour not only exposes riders to some of the area’s natural wonders but also provides pathways to development by creating trail-building jobs for local labourers.
According to race director Brad Jackson of Mountain Events, participants should expect “something new and exciting” from the newly skilled route builders.
“We believe that a good mountain bike race is all about good quality trails,” said Jackson.
“Every year we endeavour to add something different instead of just serving up the same old race routes year after year.”
This approach, he said, had led to various job creation and skills development opportunities.
“In collaboration with local landowners, we have worked on building some of the best dedicated mountain bike single track in the country.
“However as much as we love spending time outdoors building trails, we just don’t have the luxury of doing this on a full-time basis.”
Instead they decided to train and equip a team of local labourers to build and maintain mountain bike trails throughout the year.
At Hayterdale Trails, four labourers are employed on a permanent basis, while the development team expands to as many as eight workers from time to time, as needed.
“Aside from the fact that sustainable jobs have been created, these guys have truly become masters at trail building and have developed the skills to build proper single track while adhering to sound environmental principles.”
Due to the mostly inaccessible nature of the terrain, the majority of the work is done manually without the use of heavy machinery.
Jackson said the head of the trail-building crew, Zolile Pikoli, would showcase his signature trail section – the aptly named Zorr’s Rollercoaster – for the first time in next year’s race.
He said conserving the environment and ensuring it remained unharmed during events such as the cycle tour was extremely important as Addo encompassed five of the country’s seven biomes.
Jackson said riders would have the opportunity to experience the beauty and diversity of the region first-hand.
“The cycle tour mountain bike routes start among citrus orchards in the Sundays River Valley and extend to the Zuurberg mountain range and back, traversing a diverse range of vegetation along the way.
“If riders are lucky, they may even spot a herd of Addo elephant where sections of the feature route hugs the Addo Elephant National Park.”
If a brief glimpse from the bike left them wanting more, he said participants were encouraged to stay on and explore the region with families and friends after crossing the finish line.
Leading the host of accommodation options in the area is Zuurberg Mountain Village, which is the official cycle tour accommodation sponsor for the mountain biking events.
General manager Clinton Wild said the tranquil mountain top retreat would host 24 of the cycle tour’s VIPs.
In addition, it will provide special rates to participants who wish to enjoy the establishment’s four-star accommodation and breathtaking views over the Addo Elephant National Park.
About 145 000ha of the park surrounds the Zuurberg Mountain Village, where a wide range of activities from horse riding to hiking trails can be enjoyed amid magnificent wildlife, birdlife and vegetation.
For those riders looking for a budget-friendly option, organisers will turn the fields of the Addo Polo Club, which is next to the start and finish line, into a campground. Campers will have access to a pub, braai facilities, bathrooms, food stalls and a bike lock-up.
The mountain bike events comprise the 80km Extreme, 60km Adventure and 30km Powerade Leisure Challenge. The 5km Kiddies’ Challenge and 500m Toddler’s Dash, also sponsored by Powerade, complete the line-up.
Registration takes place on Friday, January 31, at The Boardwalk, with late registration for the mountain bike events continuing on the Saturday at the Addo Polo Club.
Click here for accommodation and travel packages.