Competitors in the Liberty Waterberg Encounter can gear up for a mix of exciting single-track and a few technical challenges when the mountain-bike race takes place from Friday to Sunday.
The third event in the annual Encounter Series will be held near Bela-Bela in Limpopo, with the bushveld trails taking riders through the Elements Private Golf Estate and the Sondela Nature Reserve.
Route director Mel Meyer said a heavy rainy season resulted in extensive growth in the region surrounding the route.
“For this reason we had to take out a stretch of three kilometres on the first day and one of the lesser climbs, which has made the opening stage a lot smoother,” he said.
“But this is a good thing because the riders will need a bit more energy for the second stage, which will have some technical challenges.”
Although the first stage has been reduced from 62km to 59km, Meyer did warn competitors of “a stinger near the end”.
“You need to make sure you have something in reserve for the last 15km because that is a bit tougher, while we have also made the last 800m a bit smoother.”
He added that the second day would provide the most technical stage of the race, but riders would still enjoy some “amazing trails”.
“In certain places the rain has washed away some of the ground, so that has created rocky parts which make it a bit of a challenge. You will have to keep your best for the second day.”
Meyer said the new single-track sections on the final stage would add much value to the route.
“The Sondela Nature Reserve is famous for its single-track and we have added two new sections – a 3km stretch just before the first water-point and then a further 6km later on in the stage.”
Despite the rain earlier this year, Meyer said the course was in excellent condition.
“The weather is fine now that the rainy season is over, but it is chilly in the Waterberg so riders need to come prepared for that.”