Waterberg shaping up as a race to remember

Race organisers are focused on combining a luxurious experience with scenic bushveld riding when the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo next month. Photo: Gerrie Kriel/Twin Productions SA

Race organisers are focused on combining a luxurious experience with scenic bushveld riding when the Liberty Waterberg Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, takes place near Bela-Bela in Limpopo next month. Photo: Gerrie Kriel/Twin Productions SA

Organisers of next weekend’s Liberty Waterberg Encounter are fully focused on providing the entrants with a race to remember in the heart of the South African bushveld.

The three-day mountain bike event at Bela Bela in Limpopo, presented by STANLIB, takes place from June 8 to 10, capitalising on a period when there are not that many races on the South African calendar.

The Waterberg is the third leg of the Encounter series, which includes the TransCape and the Winelands, held earlier this year.

Now it is the turn of those based in the northern provinces to experience a luxurious offering, with a typical bushveld outing on the bike and five-star accommodation available at Elements Private Golf Reserve and Sondela Nature Reserve.

ASG Events acting chief executive Fritz Pienaar emphasised that this was a perfect opportunity for a wide range of cyclists to compete in a top-quality stage mountain-bike race.

“There is an element of luxury in the overall package and it provides a great opportunity for riders of all levels to get the feel of a stage race,” he said.

“It is the perfect platform for those in the corporate world to do some team-building or to entertain clients.

“The three days provide a chance for everyone to mingle in a relaxed environment while enjoying top-class accommodation with heated blankets, good food and a great vibe.”

In addition, Pienaar said the distances of each leg, which overall cover 162km, were manageable, even for those who might not be that experienced.

“Events like the Winelands and the Waterberg are great opportunities for first-time riders to experience what a stage race is like.

“The distances are not too hectic – around 60km a day – and they will ride on some of the most amazing trails in the area.”

As was the case last year, the event will have two race villages, with stopovers at Sondela and Elements Golf Estate.

This has made the whole event a bit more compact and Pienaar said they felt they could provide an even purer mountain-biking experience for the participants.

The route encompasses some of the best features and local hospitality in the area, with scenic riding over the contoured terrain offered by the Waterberg.

“Riders can expect wide open plains, strong contoured climbing challenges, deep ravines and fabulous cliff edges, indigenous forests and spectacular views,” he added.

“The route is characterised by riveting jeep tracks, challenging rocky outcrops, fast-flowing downhills, meandering river crossings and stunning single-track.”

Go to www.waterbergencounter.co.za to enter or for more information.