I got back onto the tar and worked our way back to the starting with a major smile on my face, dusty and happy, charging! Not believing I could do this, and there it was … the finish line chute! As I was alone outpacing the toppie, I sprinted alone to make it look like I too was chasing the race snakes of the A Batchers and bunny hopped over the line! I air punched and realized that I had finished! Finished? Yes, finished!
As I dismounted and collected my beer and boerie ticket I started to cramp, but I didn’t care, all I wanted was that craft beer and a boerie roll and to have my Flashy cleaned and ready for the second day. I pushed my baby to the wash bay and she got a well deserved wash as she had done what she promised me … delivering me to the finish line in one piece. I sat on the grass and uploaded my Garmin ride on Strava while munching on my boerie roll and drinking my craft beer! I started to cool down and watched as other riders came through the chute one-by-one some recognizing me and congratulating me on finishing and others just happy to have crossed the line. And finally, 30 so odd minutes later the father-daughter duo came through with smiles dripping from their faces and a proud daughter to have helped her father cross the finish line. The kind lady came to me and gave me a fist pump on completing and told me to stop doubting myself as she took her bike in for washing. An hour or so went by, as I thought I would see Johan , the friendly bike sweep to cross the finish line, but he didn’t. I packed my stuff and collected my Flashy to carefully mount her on the car and drive back to the resort for a nice cool shower and poolside chilling. An orange reflector jacket came through, and there he was, just before I turned the car keys, Johan had just swept two happy lads through the finish line! I took the key out and went over to greet him and tell him that I had for once finished my ride, and like always he smiled and congratulated me for such an awesome achievement, we had a little banter, but because he was in a rush he ran out and I drove away. Back to the resort I showered while singing to Billy Joel’s Vienna knowing I had held on and nothing slowed me down. Now it was just to get my mind and body ready for the second day that came ahead, as it was a route I had never ridden before. I knew after today nothing would stop me for the coming day ahead! Before leaving the race village I looked at the race results and noted I was 50 something overall and 3rd in category while 1st and 2nd overall were the race leaders. Saturday was complete, the Sandman was prepared to sweep me away to the land of sleep and rest.
I flowed and flowed and flowed oh and did I say it flowed? Got to the first water station, feeling fresh and stopped to have a quick chat with the nice ladies and gaze over the scenery. Clicked back in and pedaled up the school with cheers from the locals and chocolate asking, I just wonder where they got that idea of asking for chocolates from. I climbed and slowly drifted to my granny gear while riding on the edge of the mountain with my heart in my pocket, having been disrupted from the trails to the amazing views of the Drakensberg outback. At one moment I almost fell off, something slipped and I heard a rock fall, but kept it together and continued riding until I was completely solo on the road, climbing way up to the second water point, legs still rock solid, no hints of cramping and fatigue. I grabbed a few sweets, two Farbars and a slukkie coke to feel awesome; stocked up with cold water and descended gently not to bail on the same spot I bailed the year before. Beautifully flowing and yet again my breath was taken by the greens and the winding trails ahead of me and then all of a sudden Nature decided to get nasty and begin a headwind! Being as big as I am, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me, well the final 10 kilos to the finish line. I caught up with a toppie on a red Spez bike pushing up the nasty snakey climb before the farm place with the headwind hammering me back to my granny gear and decided … “no shame in pushing” I unclipped to save energy and pushed along with the toppie and had a quick chat and realized I was riding with the A Batch because he noted to me that he was part of the few that started first. I then had a moment with my legs and heart to deliver me to the finish line as I was talking to this toppie. After climbing that, we immediately mounted on our bikes and continued riding up until we could see AllOutAdventures within our views and it had just hit me …. I had nearly completed my first day of my RideTheBerg with some few fuel left in the tank….
Poof! Chris fired the gun and then we were off … C Batch with their bikes were off … I gladly waved and noted that I will be back here, on my bike a few hours later! We rode and got to the first major climb on the tar, and I immediately put the hammer down to set up a pace no one could match and it worked as I caught up with the father-daughter duo whom I met the evening before and just joined their train up until we went off the tar onto the trails where we flowed before I decided their pace was just too slow for me and overtook them before the lekker downhill by Tugela River. Flowed down, and as I was about to touch the river going to cross it, a few guys were pushing across the river and I thought … hmmm maybe I don’t need to push over this river, possibly I could ride over it. I rode it right! Until a rock came in front of me and I went over my handle bars right into the water, cooled down a bit but was hilarious for those around me and forced me to lose my gloves as they were wet. No one around me could believe a bloke on a hardtail could go swimming during a race. For a moment I thought my race was over and then I realized all was still well, bike was still well; body was okay … no damage was done.
I pushed out and managed to get back on the trail and started to pedal on the flat-ish Tugela side and I met a very nice lady wearing Sufferfest gear who recognized me from the year before, didn’t recognize me for my smile but for my crying in agony, so she requested I cry a bit so she could remember me more properly. So strange but I agreed and cried in agony a bit and she cracked and chuckled until she choked on air. We had a conversation for a while until she decided to stop and take a selfie. I told her that I couldn’t and that I will meet her again on the finish line for a beer and a quick banter if she finds me. Off again I rode … caught up with the father-daughter duo again and chilled with them, admiring the scenery and taking turns in the front with this train. When climbing out the Tugela the views of the river were breathtaking, somber and something out a sci-fi movie. The duo I was pacing with also gazed up and were so taken by it that the toppie almost fell over a rock. Now back to the course again, we climbed up and were met by local children politely asking us for chocolates and waving at us for climbing out the Tugela successfully and after that moment I decided to blast away from the duo to find another pack I could keep up with at higher speed as I was feeling just mighty amazing.
The Saturday alarm went off, still yawning and wishing not to get up. I stood up, knowing I had a mission to complete. I went on and played Eye Of The Tiger to get the blood running and get Flashy warmed up and so the shower was awesome and headed again to the kitchen area where I was again met with a bouquet of bikers with arm and leg warmers. They were indeed freezing and I wasn’t, still had no idea why I wasn’t cold. Went in the kitchen, grabbed a bowl of oats and a cup of coffee (since I heard oats and coffee are a good pre race food choice).
Packed the mighty Flashy on the rack post breakfast and kitchen banter and fueled my lungs with rave music to get the blood running. Like in 2016 when I got to AllOutAdventures, I was met with the sounds of laughs, clicking derreileurs and free bodies whining as riders warmed up. I was a bit late so I couldn’t show my Flashy around that I too was part of the pack with a unique bike. I quickly ran to the race registration to pick up my number board and awesome long sleeved shirt! The kind lady who was just smiling after she saw me (maybe I blew her away, who knows?). Took my board, which I completely forgotten the number of, I think it was 239 or something like that… I had to run back to the car and get my race fuel ready and mount my board and pedal to the start chute.
On the way to the start chute, Chris mumbled, barely understood half of the stuff he said, but it was funny in a strange way, bumped into the orange reflector jacket hero, the mighty, mighty Johan Vorster, ever smiling like always who gladly commented on the new wheels and the choice of a hardtail as opposed to a soft tail and I explained politely that I haven’t found a rear shock that fits my riding ability. As we were having a quick banter at the back of the pack a lady came a snapped a pic of us and was glad to have us back for another year. As always, I forged a smile through my nervous teeth and made it. We shaked hands myself and Johan and told him I will Batch myself with the C group as they’re the more social guys and all I had to do was just to keep up with them to make it on the day.
I had set out a challenge to myself, to one day complete Ridetheberg , and there it was a year later and the weekend gazed into my eyes. Thoughts came into my mind whether I had prepared enough for this event. Were the intervals that were suggested to me enough? Was the rough climbing of Gustav Klingbeil tough enough to chisel me for the Drakensberg trails? Only the weekend that lay ahead could tell … (Photo Malose Sebata)
The Friday morning before, the alarm rang to notify me of the long drive ahead of me. I thought, maybe I should go out for a little chilled ride before I prep my bike for the long haul. I had gotten a newer bike, a better bike, my new wife, divorced the former 26inch in exchange for a 29er with a large frame! A Cannondale Flash29 with some upgrades here and there with a power meter mounted to measure efforts. Boy was the Flashy ready, if only it had a mouth to speak I’m sure it was up for the challenge. Came back from a morning spin and took her in for a wash and a chain lube and to banter with the bike shop lad of what laid ahead. Flashy was ready, gear was ready and the cup of coffee was ready and a Paddle Pop to keep the smiles running. Started the car and off I was with anticipation all over.
I had again booked in at Mont Aux Sources for the second time but with a bigger room to accommodate Flashy as I didn’t want her to camp outside with the cold weather. As I was busy checking in I bumped into Johan , Johan Vorster! The gentle sweeper was yet again back for another installment of what he said was a beautiful ride (in his words). He gladly introduced me to some few lads he was with and made a note at how I dramatically lost weight and how tuned up I was. I was happy and confident that someone had confidence in me. I slowly walked to the kitchen area to grab a bite and a drink and boy was it full with lots of biking enthusiasts, I felt at home, for a change, I felt at home! I had banter with a father and daughter team who the daughter couldn’t just get over how the Ironman was the weekend former to this. Very polite duo and looking very strong! I threw my cutlery onto the plate, wiped my mouth with the napkin at hand and stood up to have a quick chat with Flashy in the room. Flashy listened to all my requests to deliver me back home on both days!
Discover your Extraordinary
Chris is a born Adventurer and teacher. He believes in discovery, especially in building experiences that help others break through their limiting beliefs to go beyond the status quo. Chris learns fastest when he teaches and has developed a culture of learning and teaching in all that he does. Chris is co-founder and director of All Out Adventurers, Drakensberg Trails, Royal Drak MTB, Run and Ride the Berg Events and spends most of his time learning from and teaching his staff.
Chris’s early discoveries centered on exploring his boundless energy and his love of riding bikes. At 8, Chris surprised his family and himself by peddling 160km around his Binghamton NY home. By his 20s, Chris, developed a long distance bike touring system and after graduating university; took off to explore the vast North American seaboard from South Carolina to the Canadian borders of Newfoundland and Labrador. After nearly 10,000 km, he returned to Binghamton NY in 1988, eyes and heart wide open to the fact that it is possible to make a living doing what you love and for Chris that was skiing.
During Chris’ 10 years of helping 1000s of students find their dynamic balance on their skis, Chris fulfilled his lifelong dream to master the art of flying through the snow while distinguishing himself as one Skiing Magazines top 100 ski instructors in North America. He also happened to attain PSIA level 3 Alpine and Nordic Down Hill Examiner status.
Moving to South Africa in 1999 and starting his own family, gave Chris the opportunity to bring a new way to recreate in the world. The creation of SA’s much loved All Out Adventure Park, gives thousands more the sensation of flying down mountains without the need for snow.
Chris’s inspired talks and workshops pack together 30 years of human performance experiences whose chief aim is a world where work is a place of healing and the cure is being paid to play.
Friday morning , topped up my little Polotjie with fuel and set out a course using a GPS to a place I’ve never been before … Bergville , what was set out to be an amazing weekend in the mountains , far far away from human civilization and the deafening sounds of city cars and busses. The trip was filled with what one could call “scenic routes” , from the off ramp heading to Harrismith and the overberg pass leading up to the AllOut Adventures route. Words alone cannot describe the beauty one experienced on the route , the vendors with figurines and foreign tourists constantly nagging to have a photo of them taken.
Now , back to the story at hand; as I checked in at Mont Aux Sources the Friday of June 24th 2016 I couldn’t help but panic , panic as to what I had set myself to do or to accomplish … then it hit me. I had never done a stage race before , nor were my legs ready for what was about to come to them on the treacherous weekend of Ride The Berg. As I laid in bed contemplating on not starting the Saturday ahead of me , I called a friend letting them know I had safely arrived at my destination (Mont Aux Sources) , without doubt I let her know I couldn’t start because of a stomach bug crippling me and possibly affecting my riding the day ahead. Soon as the discussions were turning up she intently let me know that I should start regardless of my health so I could get a taste of my money’s worth , convincing me like she always does I agreed to be at the starting line. Sleep , goodnight it went and so The Sandman took me to the land of no pain at all.
I remember chime by chime as my alarm went off at 04:45 with my arm reaching for it to turn the bloody thing off. After I had turned the alarm off I knew what I had in store for me on that fateful Saturday morning. I , quarterly asleep , walked towards the balcony to check on how my 26 inch hardtail Bianchi bike slept outside in the super cold weather. She was indeed cold and shivering , so I wrapped her up with a blanket and lubed her chain hoping she would warm up and deliver good results for me as I had bestowed all my trust and faith on her. After that was done , I walked back in and took a shower and got myself dressed in full amour and steadily walked to the restaurant to have what some may call “the last meal” before a giant leap. After breakfast was had , I steadily walked back to my room and started to have a word with my bike letting her know she shouldn’t let me down and carry me across the line of the first day. She gladly sailed with me back to the car , onto the back carrier and off we went to AllOut Adventures …
Cold breeze had me looking for warmth , lots of people on bikes warming up , sounds of derreileurs shifting up and down , the click of cleats onto pedals , the smell of brewing coffee , the screams of children from the zip lines , the warm smiles of the officials , the sound of cable ties locking the boards on the frames … oh I felt like I was in Heaven as I walked to the race desk to collect my number board. There it was , 511 , the magic five eleven , my virginity of stage racing was about to be broken , and happy I was. Went back to the bike and mounted my number 511 onto my handlebars , shaking and nervous , batched in C , the social bunch.
I undressed to my lycra and wore my Ride The Berg shirt that I had bought and clipped on my helmet as I rode to the starting bunch to say but hello to fellow riders. As I pushed into my batch , I was purely welcomed with nothing but smiles , as if they could tell I was nervous and panicking to the core. Chris gave a quick speech without me hearing a single word he mumbled out his mouth , and all of a sudden a gun went off and the A Batch snakes went off with their full might! Again , Chris uttered some words , well apparently jokes which everyone giggled and laughed at and I never did and again the gun went off and the B Batch goats went off … now as we sailed to the starting line , Chris looked at me and again mumbled some words which I agreed to without knowing what he had said to me and laughed. I could clearly remember the countdown from 3 , with some few jokes in between , 2 and then 1 poof!! Myself and other bikers were off and there it was , my virginity of stage racing was broken. With little to nothing knowledge of the trail I set out with the front pack to be ahead and show everyone that I too am part of the pack. Crossed the tar onto the lekker downhill that set ahead and pinned it very beautifully before the Tugela River. Sweet berms , beautifully trimmed and manicured trails … awesome smiles all around … well , such fun I am having , not as much of a challenge this would be I thought to myself.
The long and straight and flat route made me think of pushing up a tempo and so I did but without knowledge of the trail I was murdering myself and depleting myself before the halfway point. Came the first climb … blonkers! Cramp! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! I stopped with solid as rock legs , unable to turn my cranks no more! Rider by rider passing me as I tried to unwork the cramps. Slowly I climbed up , riders which I passed passing me as if I was standing still , until an old toppie with an orange reflective jacket stopped behind me. We uttered a few words , but I recall telling him I was suffering and cramping 20kilos into the race and being the great sweeper he was he cheered me on and boosted my confidence to carry on without abandoning the race midway. I suddenly carried myself and miraculously my cramps had disappeared into obscurity and my spitfire legs were firing! Charging I was , until again … boom!! Cramps! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Took it slowly again and once again the sweeper caught up … with smiles on his face. Telling me he will stay with me all the way to the finish line or where I choose to abandon whichever came first. I remember very well starting not to focus on my state of health and legs and now looking around me at the breathtaking scenery and mountain side and the overhead view of the Tugela River. Majestic as the river sounded under complete silence and birds chirping ahead , brilliant conversations with the sweeper also. Riding at my pace , not rushing me into anything nor rushing me to kick up the tempo. We rode , commenting on such breathtaking view and the type of trails were going on. We formerly stopped and introduced each other , a friendly old man reached his right hand to me and politely said “Hi , my name is Johan” and I politely returned “Hi Johan , name is Malose and it is a pleasure to meet you and I hope to ride with you all the way to the finish , if you’re okay with it” . He politely agreed noting to me that there was no rush to the finish line and he would stay on course with me as long as I finish.
We rode , steady and gentle pace absorbing the mountains and tranquility from the surrounding. With the first water station passed and climbing passed the school children cheering at us. We still chatted and I continued cramping all the way to the second water station where I decided to forfeit the race after not overcoming my cramping issue. Johan shook my hand with tons of respect as this being my first stage race ever! The kind ladies on the mountain at the water station offered me some anti cramping dissolvable pills to eliminate the pain and attempt to finish the race. Her remedy had worked as I was able to continue the beautiful downhill that continued , again catching up to Johan only to overtake him on the downhill and like always … cheering me on. Navigating the downhill through its rocks and tricky berms I was dropping down like a descendant of Greg Minnaar until a loose rock decided to take my downhill glory and throw it down the drain. Just to note , it was the most slowest 15 – 20 seconds in my life , rolling , dust , rocks flying all over and blood.
Dusted myself and noticed I had gashed myself on the right leg and was kinda bleeding , not bleeding bleeding , but okay bleeding with a very painful hip. I stood up and went to my bike and straightened up my handle bars waited for the hot dust to clear. Johan eventually caught up and asked if all was well and I noted to him that I’m bleeding and was in pain. He made a call to race station alerting them of my situation ; because of where we were only the medic bike could reach me to apply some bandage and plasters and had to descend some more to atleast he shuttled out to get help. I fought as hard as I could descending to a point where I could be picked up. Soon as I got to the main road … a black Nissan Navara came to me and assisted me inside back to the medical station to get some medical help. Then I knew that my dreams of conquering this Berg was all but history , getting out the car and limping to the medics I then realized that I couldn’t make it to the start on Sunday and it had come to my attention that I didn’t finish on Saturday. A teardrop suddenly turned to waterfalls knowing I didn’t finish what I had started. My heart wanted to get to the start on Sunday but my hip and leg wound wouldn’t allow me to and I left the AllOut Adventures with nothing but sadness in my heart but with a sense of knowing I had experienced opulent scenes and remarkable people , with lots of smiles and a very kind and humble Johan who had said he came from the same hometown as me , Pretoria. I limped back to my car while pushing my also crippled bike in defeat and made a promise to come back the year after , better , stronger and fit! And not to ride with the backmarkers again!
To summarize , it was a shi**y day on the saddle but the breathtaking views made it all worthwhile. The weekend away was one I was gonna make the year after. I still have the number board framed in my bedroom to remind me of a memorable time in 2016 and a goal I had set myself to achieve. A beer in pain also eased the pain a bit hahahahaha.
It is almost two years that I drove up the D119 for my interview at All Out Adventures. I remember looking at the trails and thinking, wow who made these little paths for people to walk on. My excuse is I was a city boy and have never heard of mountain bike trails, still I was amazed by how beautiful these little paths were. Fast forward to June after I was appointed, Chris took me to explore a new trail in the Langkloof area; oh by then I knew that the little paths were actually Mountain Bike trails. Boy did we walk, he didn’t really prepare me for that. Typical city boy behaviour you might think, in my defence I had not really converted from being a city boy to a country boy yet. Back to the story, I was blown away standing at the top of the mountain looking down at a beautiful valley. I felt proud to be part of a team marking a new trail that people would drive from all over the country to ride on.
Event day finally caught up with us, waking up early after a late night, I felt like the day would drag, quite the opposite actually. All Out Adventures was buzzing with riders, their families and friends, the atmosphere was out of this world and then it hit me, the late night, early morning and ALL that walking was worth it. This is what Ridetheberg is all about, you can compete if you want to but you can also take in all the beauty of the valley, enjoy the company of friends, do an Adventure ride or two or just chill on our bean bags. I was blown away!! I have by the way fully converted into a country boy and yes I have been on a bike out on the trails, even if it was only once and I did get lost from the group but I persevered and made my way back. Who knows maybe one day I will Ridetheberg.
I’m just an ordinary guy at a completely unique fully marked 150 km of trails in the Northern Drakensberg. I started riding in 2013 – Chris introduced me to Mountain Biking which I had never done before. I still remember Chris’s question “Would you like to ride fast?” Yeah sure!
I went for it, with him- it was completely awesome and mind blowing – the well handmade single track which flows endlessly made me swing my legs nonstop behind Chris. For a moment I forgot about myself and my worries, it was the bike and me at the easy Gypsies Bend – which is sustainable for beginners as it has nice long curving switch backs along the river meander. Soon enough I was able to do the 20km intermediate Montusi Gorge. We flew off the escarpment downhill, up the Gorge view point where I couldn’t resist to take a break and have a view of the beautiful surroundings. There are even more scenic trails like the top of Grotto where I got to see the Amphitheater (Tugela Falls). Then it flows down the Mount Aux descent to the Tugela River, through the “half pipe” – Mind blowing!!
Well I fell in love with mountain biking so much that I could ride every day. Then I got into building trails, ramps, bridges. It got even more exciting having the privilege to build and get to ride the trails that I’ve handmade. It’s been a great experience in both working and also as a rider, I’ve grown my skills so much as a rider as I could now ride with some of the best riders who visit the Drakensberg. I’ve met the finest riders from all over the country, who come here to ride at our events like the – Royal Drakensberg MTB challenge and Ridetheberg which are all held at All out Adventures.