Howick – Organisers of the 2016 Sappi Howick MTB Classic are relishing the inclusion of the first ever Sappi Howick Enduro as part of the now weekend-long programme of events as the popular ‘raw and unplugged’ KZN Midlands mountain biking event celebrates its 30th anniversary on Saturday, 5 and Sunday, 6 March.
The newly added Sappi Howick Enduro will take place on Saturday, 5 March – the day before the traditional Sappi Howick MTB Classic – with the Howick Mountain Bike Club (HMBC) confident their recent release of the official Enduro stages on social media will aid in attracting a wide range of riders on all types of bikes to the fresh event.
“Enduro is a different kind of racing which allows friends to ride socially together while at the same time still enjoying the thrill of timed racing,” Gavin Ryan, HMBC Trail Steward explained.
“Moms and dads can ride up liaison stages with their children and then race down the timed sections knowing their children will be waiting at the bottom for them with the time keepers, it’s quite unique being able to ride an event in that style.”
The 2016 Sappi Howick Enduro comprises of three stages, all of which descend from the iconic Shafton Fire Tower.
Stage 1 is a selection of fast and flowing trails on steep terrain which then enter into tighter trails with bar catching potential, stage 2 directs riders towards the Karkloof trail networks down the well-known “Sheep’s Pass” while Stage 3 is the longest collection of trails that has a number of surprising technical sections with the race ending at the Karkloof Farmers Market.
The HMBC’s selection of trails for the event also means that riders will need to be committed to smooth, fast riding through tight corners in order for them to be competitive.
“We’ve been mindful of making the stages doable for those on big, mid and small travel bikes alike, so anyone can give it a bash confidently!” said Ryan.
“We want to grow the discipline of Enduro racing and hence we’ve created fun but still challenging sections!”
“While we’ve made it beginner friendly, there are still some tricky sections where those with skills to pay the bills will benefit!” he laughed.
Kim Westbrook, overall ladies winner at the KZN MTB Provincial Enduro held at St Ives last weekend, is one rider to have already confirmed she is keen to try her luck on the Howick trails at the new event.
“I’m really excited because Howick has natural, rugged, tight trails that are always challenging to ride fast and are so satisfying when you read the lines right and hit them at speed!” said Westbrook.
PYGA rider Hilton Frost, who came second to World Cup Downhill racer Greg Minnaar at the recent St Ives Enduro, is another looking forward to being part of the 2016 Sappi Howick Enduro’s action.
“While I’ll be setting up our PYGA stand in the morning, I will definitely be racing later in the day!” said Frost.
“I’m not missing this event; I’ve never had a chance to race Enduro on the Howick trails and they are perfect for this kind of riding so I’m sure it will be an awesome race!”
Title sponsor Sappi will also be running a social media competition during the event.
Between their timed runs, riders are encouraged to snap a photo of themselves at the new Sappi Photo Frame and post the image to the HMBC Facebook page, with #HMBC and #InspiredByLife included in the post, in order to stand a chance of winning several prizes such as an Apple iPod.
“Built at the Shafton Fire Tower, the frame presents a fun way to take a brief break from pedalling and create a few digital memories of the Sappi Howick Enduro adventure!” said Matthew Drew of the Sappi MTB Project.
“The idea is that riders will stop and do something fun like a hand stand, yoga pose or just showing off their Enduro steeds on the two meter wide platform behind the frame.
“Hopefully this will enable us to capture the fun of the Enduro event through the competitors very own photos!”
The Sappi Howick MTB Classic & Enduro takes place on Saturday, 5 and Sunday, 6 March 2016. More information can be found at www.howickmountainbiking.co.za or www.facebook.com/howickmtb while entries can be submitted at www.roag.co.za.