So the rule of thumb is don’t make track just before the event. You must allow the track to settle be ridden in a bit before the race. This year we didn’t play by these rules….
I got stuck into puzzling over how to get into the Gorge. After three attempts at marking I asked Lolly to join me on a ride, and after more puzzing, the vision of cutting through to the Montusi Waterfall finally came clear, the Trails Team were commissioned and the Gorge Cut Back was born.
In the end this proved to be time well spent as riders all reported having come alive as they descended the flowing exposed edge of the Montusi Gorge 😊
The weather blessed us both days. The rain on Friday night and Saturday morning, inspired a late start. This helped riders get the right kit to manage a trail that had the bulk of the field sliding and riding on other parts of their bodies. This was also welcomed by a couple of teams who found the wine on Friday night to be flowing as quickly as the rivers, although we did still have a couple of late comers who started after the sweeps!
The going was tough, but the smiles at the All Out Adventures cappuccino and scones stop was testament to the Grotto and Down Time Trails delivering happiness, despite the trying conditions.
Day one was shortened to 30km allowing everyone to get back to the comfort of a hot Montusi shower, thus averting any sense of humour failure that might have resulted had we continued with the Greenfire climb and the sticky clay that awaited on the Nook Road Loop.
The sharp end of the race was hotly contested by Lihle Ngidi and Con Malherbe as they crushed it through the Scone Stop glued together like Siamese twins. The slickness of the (unintended) up climb of Forbidden Pass was enough to separate the twins and give Lihle a comfortable lead going into day two.
Day 2 dawned beautiful and sunny, giving our riders clear views and riveting, super grippy tracks. Day 2 was extended to include the sections missed due to rain on Day 1, and highlights of the 50km route included the Berg Traverse, Gorge Cut Back, Lizelle’s Waterfall trail and the stunning Panorama & Ingwe Routes. The Nook Descent to the finish delighted all and in all Day 2 was a great challenge for the first to the last rider home.
The overall results saw Lihle Ngidi of the Change a Life Academy winning in a time of 4:26:26, followed by Con Malherbe in 4:44:47 and Stefan Van Doorn in 5:05:15. First lady home – Hester Du Plessis finished in 7:30:14, followed by Rebecca Sands in 8:22:36 and Pam Johannsen in 9:45:03. Special thanks must be made to our sweeps, Mboneni Ngcobo and Ndumiso Dontso, also from Change A Life Academy, who encouraged the back markers to keep going and finish the two days of very challenging riding.
All the finishers received a hand-made stone necklace, made with agate or quartz stones collected from the mountains where the ride took place, to have as a keepsake and a reminder of a great weekend of mountain riding.
We are very grateful to Vrede en Lust, who sponsored lovely wine for the podium finishers, and to Montusi Mountain Lodge for the weekend prizes for the first lady and first man home.
Big thanks is also due to the team that made Ridethberg happen – Lee Fuller on the microphone with his fun and enthusiastic welcome of everyone come coming over the line, the team at Montusi who kept us housed and very well fed, Sbu Hlongwane who heads up the trails, and was managed all the marking, and our marshal and trail building teams from the Amazizi and Langkloof communities.
A special shout it out for the impeccable organisation from Lolly Logistics. It’s a joy to be part of this team, and to get to share this beautiful part of the world, so a huge thank you to all the riders and your supporters.
Enjoy your custom Ridetheberg Lizzard Hoodies – perfect for on and off the bike, and we will look forward to seeing you at our next event – Runtheberg 1 -2 October 2021.
PS – We had some fun on Sunday’s ride documenting some of the action using the Iphone 12 bite mount attachment (basically some tape on the back of the phone clenched tightly between the teeth while riding down the trail. Check it the video