Seasoned mountain biker Gertjie Harmse is anticipating another quality experience when the second Liberty Waterberg Encounter race takes place next month.
With the event organisers putting in a big effort to provide a memorable offering, the three-day race near Bela-Bela in Limpopo from June 9 should again be a major attraction.
The Vanderbijlpark-based Harmse, who won alongside teammate Devan Kruger last year, said he was looking forward to defending his title.
The boutique event forms the Encounter Series alongside the Liberty Winelands Encounter, which took place in the Western Cape in April.
Harmse said there was a special aura surrounding the Waterberg thanks to the passion of the organisers for the event.
“From registration to prize-giving, you can see that everyone wants to help wherever they can to make it a memorable experience.”
He added that the race was top-class both on and off the bike.
“The food and accommodation are five-star all the way and there are great single-track trails and jeep tracks during the race.”
This year organisers ASG Events have introduced some changes, which Harmse believed would have a positive effect on the race.
One of the most significant introductions, he said, was a slight shortening of the stages, which will now see participants cover at total of 172km.
“More single-track has been added, but even more important is the distance. I think the organisers have made a good call to shorten the days a bit.”
The Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, gets under way at Sondela Nature Reserve and will now incorporate two nights at the up-market Elements Estate in Bela-Bela.
A clover-leaf route has been designed for the second stage before the riders complete the race by riding back to Sondela on the final day.
Harmse said the race occupied an important slot on the South African cycling calendar.
“This is the perfect race for the mid-range riders who are not professionals. The shorter distances and relaxed vibe make for a great experience.”
Harmse, himself, will be looking to do well again, this time in partnership with his brother, Louis.
“Louis can be really strong so we will be racing competitively,” he said.