A number of changes are tipped to improve the experience across the board when the second Liberty Waterberg Encounter mountain bike race takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo next month.
The three-stage race, starting on June 9, is the second leg of the Encounter Series organised by ASG Events. The first leg, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, took place in the Boland last month.
Route director Mel Meyer said their focus was on providing an “exclusive offering” and were catering for about 150 teams to take to the start at the Sondela Nature Reserve.
“There are some serious riders in the field, but the race is also about creating a chance for those in the corporate world who like to get on their bikes and to experience what we have to offer,” he said.
He added that the biggest change to the event this year was two race villages compared to last year’s three, with stopovers at Sondela and Elements Golf Estate.
“After making the three days a bit more compact, Zebula was unfortunately just a bit far away. We can now provide an even purer mountain biking challenge for the riders.
“Elements is a beautiful golf course and also a beautiful venue. We have made a plan with luxury tented packages at the venue, with the clubhouse facilities available for the entrants.”
He said those who wished to book in at Sondela for the weekend could make use of the shuttle services to transfer them to Elements, where the second stage starts.
While the Waterberg event is a sister race to Winelands, Meyer said competitors would have a completely different experience.
“The hospitality is the same, but the test on the bike is quite different.
“While you have lots of mountains and climbing in the Winelands, the Waterberg provides shorter climbs, with some rocky areas and a true bushveld experience.”
He added that they had received positive feedback from the participants on what they were trying to achieve with the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB.
“We aim to make sure there is the personal touch that makes the race unique.
“As opposed to some mass participation events, people want to know that they are part of the race. In fact, they are the race,” said Meyer.
“Plus they get to see a wide variety of game on farms to which they would not normally have access.”
He said the position of the race on the calendar worked well because of the relatively mild winter conditions in the region.
“It’s a bit chilly in the early morning, but we only start the riding at 8am and by that time the cold is gone and the days are perfect for riding – calm, but not too hot.”
Go to www.waterbergencounter.co.za to enter or for more information.