A number of new sections in the Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain-bike race will pose an interesting examination for competitors over the three days in Bela Bela in Limpopo.
Starting on Friday, the bushveld event, presented by STANLIB, will cover some of the same routes as 2017, while also providing some newly constructed single-track to test the riders.
Cyclists will tackle a total of 172km through Sondela Nature Reserve and Elements Private Golf Reserve on trails which route director Mel Meyer said would be manageable, but not without a few challenges.
“On the first day, the route up to the second water point is the same as last year, but then they will experience something new,” he said.
“We have built a fresh trail of single-track on a 6km section, incorporating a tough little climb, followed by a bit of a scary downhill.”
He added that they had also altered the finish from the tar road of last year to a single-track through Elements Golf Reserve.
“This means that the front guys will need to be aware of what is happening because once you get into the single-track with 3km to go there is no way you can do any overtaking,” said Meyer.
He added that the second stage was much the same as last year, while they had introduced some changes to the final day’s route.
“We will be using the single-track we created for the end of stage one, but this time they will be going in the opposite direction.
“Further on in the route we had some heavy, sandy sections last year, but we have reduced those this time.”
Meyer said their objective was to produce a balanced route, without making it too easy.
“We want the entrants to be able to manage the routes, but without it being a walk in the park.
“At the end of the day they must feel they have come through a proper test, but not so damaging that they immediately want to go and sell their bikes.”