Pietermaritzburg – When the big field of mountain biking enthusiasts take on the BSi Steel dusi2c stage race next weekend, they will enjoy the fruits of a unique collaboration between the Durban Green Corridor (DGC), Dusi uMngeni Conservation Trust (DUCT) and the event’s organisers that is aimed at boosting the economic potential of the Valley of a Thousand Hills.
Contributing significantly towards the valley’s recent growth in adventure tourism has fostered job creation in the region that has prioritised sport and adventure tourists while vital environmental issues have also been tackled as a result.
The 2015 edition of the two day MTB stage race from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban’s Blue Lagoon that takes place on 20 and 21 June will once again see riders traversing the endless valleys and hills via the endless natural and purpose-cut trails of the region.
“As a service provider to Durban Green Corridor, DUCT is responsible for building and maintaining the stretch of trails from Marianni-Foley Causeway near Nqumeni Hill all the way down to Blue Lagoon,” explains DUCT’s Bart Fokkens.
“The development of this trail network has created the potential for KZN adventurers to come and explore the valley – not only by canoe but now by bicycle and by foot as well – which is vital to the region’s existence.
“While the trails are there year-round, annual events such as the dusi2c and the Dusi Canoe Marathon play an important role in creating the awareness of just what the area has to offer and sparking an interest that has seen participants return to the valley in the months after having completed their race,” he adds.
With unemployment being a problem faced by many communities throughout the country, creating opportunities for locals to earn an income without having to leave their families and move to urban areas has been a key objective of the Durban Green Corridor and dusi2c’s race organisers alike.
“Generally we use our local, DUCT staff to look after the trails however we often get temporary staff in to help us as well.
“The people that are employed all come from the local communities, furthering our philosophy of empowering people who live close enough that they are able to walk to work.”
Canoeing and mountain biking aren’t the only activities currently thriving in the valley as trail running, hiking and, most recently, birding have also contributed to the region’s variety of visitors.
“Sixteen dedicated trail staff are employed while the birding interest in the area has seen Durban Green Corridor training up locals to become birding guides who now are able to take birders on guided tours of the valley.”
Extra eyes and ears regularly exploring the region has also seen a spike in the awareness and handling of various environmental issues the valley faces.
“Having more people on the trails has also often meant we have received feedback on various environmental issues such as sewage leaks, rubbish dumping and illegal sand mining that may be out there, particularly in the lower, more urban areas,” says Fokkens.
“This means we are then able to report these issues to the relevant authorities sooner and then monitor the resolution of these problems better.
“All in all, people using the valley for sport and recreation is good for the area’s overall health!”
Fokkens has also quashed any concerns 2015 BSi Steel dusi2c participants may have had regarding the impact of the laying of a new water pipeline near Island Rapid may have had on the race’s route.
“Riders have nothing to worry about, unless they can’t handle a short 200m detour that is,” chuckled Fokkens.
“Riders will approach the Island Rapid area as normal.
“Once they get to the big trench that has been dug, they will climb up the road for 100m, come back down the road on the other side for 100m before getting back on the trail and continuing their way down to Durban.”
The 2015 BSi Steel dusi2c takes place from Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg to Durban’s Blue Lagoon on 20 & 21 June. More information can be found at www.dusi2c.co.za