The Sappi Karkloof Classic MTB Festival from 9 to 11 May kicks off on Friday night with the novel 20km Peri Night Race, in which riders need headlamps to navigate through the forest, and is growing in popularity every year, with the STIHL Karkloof Enduro on the Saturday afternoon set to attract this unique disciplines followers together with a large number of curious recreational mountain bikers.
Turvey is the man responsible for preparing the plethora of tracks through the Sappi plantations that will be used by the various races in the Karkloof this weekend. He is an avid Enduro rider and feels that the minor events, like the Night Race and the Enduro, have a lot more to offer riders than most casual mountain bikers realise.
“People don’t really understand the social element that a race like the Enduro has,” said Enduro enthusiast Hylton Frost. “The Enduro event consists of a number of climbs and descents so that means that you can ride up the hills at your own pace chatting to your mates and then take on the descents at your own speed.”
Congestion can potentially become a bit of a problem when riding in the longer races but for the Enduro it does not seem to be a problem with the field spreading out as they ascend and descend at different speeds.
“Having to wait behind people becomes quite a problem in some races but during the Enduro it isn’t an issue and it is as much a race against the other riders and your mates as it is against yourself as you descend and have the chance to meet up with your mates on the next climb!” he mentioned.
With the unseasonal weather playing havoc with the Sappi Karkloof Classic in 2013 it seems that the weather could be quite different this year with fair weather predicted for the most of the event but beautiful conditions the order of the day on Friday for the night race.
“I am hoping for some good weather this year because it will be great for riders to get to the top of the climbs during the Enduro and have a beautiful view from the top. It will be great to encourage more people to get into the Enduro discipline as well.
“Having a dry track for the night race would also be great and with some favourable weather for Friday it will make the event a lot more appealing, although riding at night should be pretty appealing!” Frost added in jest.
Riding a mountain bike through some single track in the dark could seem quite a challenge but Turvey has set out the course that it will be as much fun as possible and riders will be able to test themselves but also enjoy the social atmosphere that surrounds such a popular mountain biking festival.
“The night race is really a novelty, I think,” Frost added. “Riding around in the dark is quite a cool idea and the fact that you cannot see more than 50 metres in front of your face adds a whole different dimension to the race! As much as we want to make it challenging for riders we want to make it exciting and fun and I think that we have been able to do that!”
Riders and spectators can follow news and developments via the event’s Facebook page (Karkloof Mountain Bike Club) or on Twitter (@KarkloofMTB). More info can also be found at www.karkloofmtb.co.za