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  1. Photo credit: Em Gatland Bell and Botha were neck and neck with Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) all weekend, ultimately taking the win just three seconds ahead of the 2018 champions. McDougall and De Groot were dominant throughout the race, finishing seven minutes ahead of their nearest challengers, Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk LIV). De Groot also won the Spioenkop Sprint on Saturday night, claiming R20 000 in the process. In the men's Spioenkop Sprint race Phil Buys pipped Wessel Botha to the R20 000 prize money. Photo credit: Em Gatland In the mixed category, Darren and Candice Lill (Summit) had it all their own way, cruising to first place overall ahead of Hayley Smith & Jeremy Hulsen (Bell Equipment) For De Groot, the double win was a fitting way to celebrate a comeback to competitive cycling after surgery earlier in the year. "It feels good to be racing hard and getting the results," said De Groot. "I feel great, I have one more race left for the year, and I don't really feel like taking a break. I'm thrilled to have ridden so well this weekend. Riding with Amy was also great fun. She knows the trails so well here, so I just let her show me the way!" In the men's race, nothing could separate the top two teams. With shortish days - certainly for the elites - and short, punchy climbs instead of long drags breaking away was a near impossibility. On Sunday's final stage Phil Sebona and Pieter du Toit did attack early to try and close the gap with NAD Pro, but Bell and Botha kept dragging them back. Photo credit: Em Gatland Phil Buys then set the pace up Spioenkop around the 34km mark of the day, but Wessel Botha was able to keep Buys in his sights, dragging his partner Bell along for the ride. With a 14km singletrack descent from the top of Spioenkop almost all the way to the finish line, overtaking or attacking was out of the question. In the final kilometre the riders were faced with a series of left and right turns. Bell had learned from his mistakes last year and kept his nose on track, saving his energy for a big burst to the line in the final 200m. Ultimately, Bell and Botha finished in between the two Pyga riders, claiming the team title for the event. For the bulk of the field, the weekend was an opportunity to ride hand-crafted trails in a pristine farm and bushveld environment. As always, the final descent down Spioenkop to the race village left riders grinning from ear to ear, promising to return next year just for the 14km final day descent. Another big hit was the chill zone on the banks of the Tugela River with the idyllic setting no doubt playing a part in the consumption of over 1000 litres of draught beer. Photo credit: Em Gatland Up next is the Berg & Bush Great Midweek, the revamped and recharged midweek ride starting on Tuesday at Em'seni and then the original 2 Day, which starts on Saturday 12 October. Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent 2019 - Results Men - overall 1 Nico Bell & Wessel Botha (NAD Pro) 7:33:45 2 Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) 7:33:48 3 Pieter Du Toit & Phillimon Sebona (Pyga Eurosteel 2) 7:40:29Women - overall 1 Amy McDougall & Robyn de Groot (dormakaba) 8:30:49 2 Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk LIV) 8:37:33 3 Nina Hind & Robyn Assad (LLL) Mixed - overall 1 Darren Lill & Candice Lill (Summit) 8:55:39 2 Hayley Smith & Jeremy Hulsen (Bell Equipment) 9:17:38 3 Christie Hearder & Chris Horter (Absolute Motion TCH) 9:18:42
  2. 1. The Destination Em’seni Camp just outside Winterton, on the banks of the languidly flowing Tugela River, is the ideal and idyllic setting for a mountain bike stage race. Spacious, comfortable, scenic, relaxed and relaxing, three days at the race village will take all your worldly troubles away. The Berg & Bush now offers fly-in packages, making your arrival at the race village convenient and hassle-free. 2. The Village Life While event founder Gary Green wears gumboots with casual farmer-chic aplomb during the week of MTB festivities, his real talent is in letting wife Nicky, daughters Rox and Spoen, and Berg & Bush fairy godmother Jani Maritz run the show. With eyes for flair and attention to the tiniest detail, the women of Winterton have turned the race village into a sweeter version of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory - freshly baked goods, homemade rusks, fountains of free-flowing fruit juice, chocolate milk, biltong, popcorn and, of course, Nottingham Road Brewery beers all make the race village a tough place to leave when your time is up. 3. The Upgrades Every year Gary, trail builder extraordinaire Mbhekseni Kunene and the team strive to make changes to the route of the Berg & Bush; these are not unnecessary trail additions or changes for the sake of changing, but rather tweaks and twists that ensure every time you return to the trails of Berg & Bush you experience something new and unique. With his inexhaustible digger machine - official name pending - Gary powers around Spionkop, nudging giraffes out the way and rousing dozing cattle to build trail that he would love to ride. And if Gary loves to ride it, that means the Berg & Bush rider is in for a treat. 4. The Trails, the trails, the trails You can have 10 reasons to ride the Berg & Bush, and all 10 would be about the trails - they’re that good. From smooth and sweet, to twisty and a treat, the Berg & Bush builds in every trail option imaginable into their three events. There’s also a new and improved midweek event this year, allowing you to ride for three days, stay in the same race village for the entire event, and experience brand new trails for the first time. 5. The Ride of a Lifetime Bush veld bliss. Drakensberg views. Running rivers. Giraffes. African sunsets. Water points where they make fresh pancakes so that you’re forced to stop and eat 10. A deck over the Tugela River where can you enjoy sundowners without a care in the world. Canvas tents for all entrants with enough room to wave a foot pump around. A brilliant new midweek ride. This is mountain bike riding the way it should - just pure, simple fun. Entries now open at www.bergandbush.co.za.Dates: Descent: 4 – 6 October Great Midweek: 8 – 10 October 2 Day: 12 & 13th October
  3. From 2019, the midweek Berg & Bush will be known as the Berg & Bush Great Midweek, and will start and finish at the same race village on all three days. Photo credit: Em Gatland The slight change in format makes the popular midweek ride a clover-leaf format for all three days, allowing participants more time in the iconic Em’Seni race village and removing some transport logistics. Day one of the tweaked Berg & Bush Great Midweek will now feature all-new trails in and around the bushveld and farm areas that riders have come to know and love on days two and three of the Berg & Bush. The first day of riding will also be 70km long, making it more accessible for riders who might be put off by the Descent’s 98km day one. The change also means that no pre-event accommodation is required, no bag transport or car shuttles are needed; fly-in packages will be less logistically challenging, all-new day one trails will be built, and one race village means every day starts and finishes on the banks of the Tugela River. “Having seen mountain biking and mountain bike events evolve over our 14 years of Berg & Bush, I’ve certainly noticed riders’ attitudes towards races change,” says Berg & Bush founder Gary Green. “What I’ve picked up on of late, and what our riders are telling me, is that mountain bikers enjoy a great camp experience and a good night's sleep. Plus, they simply want to have fun while riding their bikes. We feel the revamped midweek ride is now that exact event." Green says to meet that desire, they’ve gone ahead with the changes to their midweek event. “We’ve decided to create a brand new shortened day one of the midweek event, around 70km of brand new unexplored trails, so that riders can start and finish in one race village, enjoy a long but not excessively arduous ride, and then relax all day in our race village.” Berg & Bush Great Midweek riders will now register at the Em’Seni race village and settle in for three nights and three days of world class riding. “This gives riders the opportunity to enjoy the Great morning ride and the Great afternoon camp life!” says Green. Early bird entries open for all three Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush 2019 events on Monday, 5 November 2019. Enter at www.bergandbush.co.za. Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush 2019 datesBerg & Bush Descent: 4-6 October Berg & Bush Great Midweek: 8-10 October Berg & Bush 2 Day: 12 & 13th October
  4. Image credit: Berg & Bush. Beukes and Buys started the final 48km third stage on Sunday with a two-second deficit to Nico Bell and Matt Beers (NAD Pro) after losing out on the final sprint on Day 2. But on Sunday they planned not to leave the final result dependant on a finish sprint and were quickest up the Spioenkop climb which was enough to secure the overall victory. Image credit: Berg & Bush. On the mini-climbs leading up to the main section of the historic battle site, Beukes and Buys began to make things tough in preparation for the steep climb up to the top of the mountain. “As soon as we hit the gravel road, even before we hit the gate that signals the start of the main climb, we made it difficult for the others,” said Beukes after celebrating the victory at the finish. “Yesterday we saw Nico struggling on some of the climbs but they were just a bit too short for us to get away. Image credit: Berg & Bush. “So we knew today we needed to make it as hard as possible and began attacking early and then on the steep part of the climb we got a gap and just pinned it on the downhill – that was so much fun.” On the 14km descent off Spioenkop down to the finish it was a super-fast downhill time-trial between the leading teams. As they weaved their way through the single-track descent the PYGA riders managed to open the gap from “about 20 seconds” at the top to just under a minute at the finish and so claim victory by 54 seconds. Image credit: Berg & Bush. In the women’s race, Amy McDougall and Samantha Sanders (dormakaba) were never challenged and wrapped up their hat-trick of victories and won their category overall by a substantial 50 minutes ahead of Hayley Smith and Christie-Leigh Hearder (Bell Equipment). Despite the large winning margin, McDougall said it was not so simple. Image credit: Berg & Bush. “I would not say that was easy … we still rode as hard as we could,” said Mcdougall. “It was so much fun. The trails were spectacular… I mean the descent off Spioenkop is one of my favourite trails in the whole country and it leaves everybody with a smile on their face at the end of the race,” added the race winner with, appropriately, her trademark smile shining out from her muddied face. Image credit: Berg & Bush. In the mixed category Yolandi du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin) also claimed their third stage win to beat Theresa Ralph and Tom Wetton (Galileo Risk Mixed) by 10 minutes, while Luke Chambers added his third win to claim the solo category from Deon van Vuuren and Grayson Keppler. Image credit: Berg & Bush. ResultsOverall 1 Matthys Beukes / Philip Buys (PYGA EuroSteel) 7:18:26 2 Nico Bell / Matthew Beers (Team NAD) 7:19:20 3 Wessel Botha / Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD 2) 7:20:42 4 Andrew Hill / Shuan-Nick Bester (TIB Silverback best4sport) 7:21:19 5 Julian Jessop / Phillimon Sebona (PYGA EuroSteel 2) 7:35:51 Solo 1 Luke Chambers 8:27:56 2 Deon van Vuuren 8:30:57 3 Grayson Keppler 8:32:14 Women 1 Samantha Sanders / Amy Mcdougall (dormakaba) 8:28:10 2 Christie Hearder / Hayley Smith (Bell Equipment) 9:19:36 Mixed 1 Yolandi Toit / Ben Melt Swanepoel (Team Garmin) 8:30:33 2 Theresa Ralph / Tom Wetton (Galileo Risk Mixed) 8:40:28 3 Dirk Nel / Ronel Van Wyk Nel (Lynx Real Estate) 9:23:52
  5. The Descent, the first of the three Berg & Bush events, starts this Friday, 5 October, from the Windmill Farm on top of the escarpment. After some short, sharp climbing, riders will ride along the famous Great Wall My China before descending down Solly’s Folly and into the KwaZulu-Natal bushveld. Day 1 will see riders tackling a 98km-long course, with Days 2 and 3 offering shorter, punchier routes. In the mix for the men’s title will be Matt Beers and Nico Bell (NAD Pro), who will arrive at the Berg & Bush fresh off their victory at the 3 Towers Stage Race, while the ladies race should feature familiar faces Amy Beth McDougall and Samantha Sanders (Dormakaba) leading the charge. “The field looks quite strong at Berg & Bush, so I expect some messy racing up front,” says Matt Beers, winner of the 2016 event alongside Erik Kleinhans. “With one long day followed by two shorter days, the first day is really key. You need to get a gap there and hold on to it. The trick is to avoid going too hard in the first 50km, because you can easily blow out from there.” For the ladies race, McDougall and Sanders are the clear favourites. “It felt good to ride so well with Sam during 3 Towers,” says McDougall. “I struggled on the first day because of the heat, but on day two and three I was firing again, so I feel like I’m in good shape for the Berg & Bush. It’s really one of my favourite events on the calendar; the vibe is amazing, the food is great, and just being in the Berg & Bush environment with so many cool people is something I always look forward to.” McDougall’s comments are echoed by Beers. “I don’t think there’s any other stage race like it; it feels very luxurious, the setting is incredible and the crew and people involved make you feel very welcome.” Other strong contenders in the men’s race include Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) with the second PYGA Eurosteel team of Julian Jessop and Phillimon Sebona also in with a shout. One of the more intriguing battles of the weekend will take place outside of the main race, with the Volvo Spionkop Summit shaping up yet again as a thrilling Saturday afternoon spectacle. For the glory, and a healthy R20 000 pay day (for both the male and female winner) for just 1.3km of effort, riders will sprint from the entrance of Spionkop to the summit. The race within a race is open to anyone, but naturally the winners tend to come from the top five in the field. After reaching the summit first in 2017, in a blistering time of 4 minutes and 38 seconds, winner Matthys Beukes could only blurt out the following comment: “Hard. That’s the only word to describe it. Hard. Hard. Hard.” For Beers, even though it’s an extra few kilometres of riding, the Spionkop Summit is too tempting to ignore. “All the guys will be racing, so I will definitely have a crack at it. The prize money is good, but the atmosphere from the spectators is also quite special. And sometimes it’s just nice to get back on your bike again instead of sitting around all day.” Event dates Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent: 5-7 October Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Great Trek 9-11 October Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush 2 Day 13 & 14 OctoberPrize money, men 1st Men’s Team: R40 000 2nd Men’s Team: R20 000 3rd Men’s Team: R10 000 Prize money, ladies 1st Men’s Team: R40 000 2nd Men’s Team: R20 000 3rd Men’s Team: R10 000 Volvo Spionkop Summit Men 1st: R20 000 2nd: R10 000 3rd: R5 000 4th: R2 500 5th: R1 000 Volvo Spionkop Summit Ladies 1st: R20 000 2nd: R10 000 3rd: R5 000 4th: R2 500 5th: R1 000 Volvo Spionkop Summit records 1 Gert Heyns – 4:35 (2016) 2 Konny Looser – 4:36 (2016) 3 Matthys Beukes – 4:38 (2017) 4 Nico Bell – 4:40 (2017) 5 Waylon Woolcock – 4:42 (2016) Ladies 1 Candice Lill – 5:55 (2017) 2 Amy McDougall – 6:05 (2017) 3 Samantha Sanders – 6:08 (2017) 4 Robyn de Groot - 06:10 (2106) 5 Candice Neething (Lill) – 6:12 (2016)
  6. Winner of the 2017 men’s race, Matthys Beukes, called the Descent “an amazing weekend of riding” while labelling the final 10km of the three days as “incredible”. Perennial Berg & Bush participant and winner of the women’s event at the Descent, Amy Beth McDougall, simply summed up the riding as “fun, fun, fun.” Riders from all parts of South Africa make their way to KwaZulu-Natal to enjoy the event’s combination of family-run fun, world-class and ever-evolving trails, unique riding experience, and the best race village in the land. To experience the ethos and vibe of this unique MTB ride, you need to see (and ride it) to believe it. “Last year was a very satisfying experience, with riders complimenting the trails, the organisation and the atmosphere,” says race organiser Gary Green. “It shows that the hard work we put in to the Berg & Bush is paying off. Ultimately, we are really here to ensure that everyone has the best time possible on a bike.” To that end, the Berg & Bush continues to evolve. This year, teens of over 15 can enter the 2 Day, allowing for some interesting father and child, mother and child, or husband and wife pairings. The Descent, previously only open to teams, is also now taking solo riders. Day one of the Descent and Great Trek has been tweaked - made slightly shorter, with new and improved off-road trails added and a new trail to the finish line. For riders flying into Joburg, there is a new and improved travel package, which can be booked when you enter into the event. The package includes transport from OR Tambo to the race start (and back again at the finish), bike set-up by a mechanic at registration, private room accommodation the night before the start and upgraded tented accommodation at the race village. “We are always looking to improve the rider experience,” says Green. “And with the continuing efforts to get everyone to enjoy a comfortable nights sleep and the new travel packages, we think we’re offering something that very few events can match. Of course, the trails will be as memorable as always because building world class trails is a passion of ours.” The ultimate sleeping experience for the event might just be the Kingfisher Tents. These are large canvas tents, with two chairs outside, two beds with linen, pillows and duvets, private ablutions, all situated a restful 500m from the race village. These sell out fast, so get your orders in early. Events Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent 5-7 October 2018 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Great Trek 9-11 October 2018 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush 2 Day 13-14 October 2018
  7. On 1 March, entries will open for the 2018 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush. Riders can enter any one of the three events; the Descent, Great Trek and original 2 Day. Last year all three events saw record numbers bombing down the best trails that KwaZulu-Natal can offer. Click here to view the article
  8. The Berg & Bush has it all, a three-day mountain bike ride in the shape of the Great Trek, a race in the shape of the Descent, and a relaxed, family-style MTB weekend away in the shape of the original 2 Day. This year all three events went out of their way to provide a little bit of everything for everyone; there was snow, lightening, thunder, thunderous rain, light rain, mud , beer, burgers and heat. Above all, there was also great riding, probably the greatest riding at any stage race in the country. Thanks to a mixture of obliging cattle and game, the natural terrain, and some hard-working local farmers, the trails of the Berg & Bush mix the sublime with the sensational. These are some of the iconic scenes that you encounter in the Central Drakensberg region. Solly’s Folly The name is well known in mountain bike circles thanks to this section of trail’s inclusion in both the Berg & Bush and the Old Mutual joBerg2c. This year only the Descent riders were able to experience the sweeping switchbacks, and even then only after race organiser Gary Green left his home at 3am to ride day 1 of the Descent ahead to the field to make sure it was safe. Green got lost - on his own farm - but luckily all riders made it to the finish (as did Green, eventually). Snow way A few days later - on day 1 of the Great Trek - the route had to be diverted after a massive storm moved in over the area. The day was declared neutral and riders were taken down an alternative descent. Rain hammered the race village near Sterkfontein Dam, but when the clouds lifted, riders were left with a chill in the air and incredible views of the snow-capped Drakensberg. (The more sensible riders in the field skipped the day altogether and opened up their bar tabs in the always impressive race village. Sponsored wine from Fairview and R10 CBC beers meant that some riders clocked numerous PBs for most beers in an hour). We’re in this Tugela There’s a moment on day 2 of the event where you’re riding in dry bush veld, past beautiful acacia trees and thicks aloes, when without warning you pop out on the banks of the Tugela River. It’s an impressive awakening and an awe-inspiring sight, not to mention a bloody fun trail along the banks of the river. Tall story Only the lucky few spot the plentiful roaming giraffe in the area. It’s small thing, but the game encounters are a standout feature of the Berg & Bush. Ain’t life Grand One of the more compellingly bizarre features on day 3 of the event - a day that boasts many compelling features - is the Grand Canyon section of trail. You hit this little beauty - an impressively eroded river bed - in the middle of the bushveld. It’s a short section of trail, but it’s so unlike anything you’ve ridden before that you can’t help but whooping as you whip through. Klapping the Kop Everyone knows about the climb up Spioenkop; it’s hellishly steep and a real leg-burner on the third day of a great event. But what goes up must come down, and there’s no better descent than the dash down Spioenkop. From the top of the famous battle site you fly downhill at a dizzying rate, twisting and turning for 13 blissful kilometres. There are berms, bumps, jumps and jollies aplenty. The trail flows so perfectly that you feel like a pro as you glide towards the finish line. Feeding time Without question, the water points at the Berg & Bush are festive and filling. Each table is run by a different farmer or community member, all trying to outdo each other with their offerings. This table pictured is the last one of the entire event, and not entirely necessary as it comes so close to the finish - but the freshly made toasted sandwiches and sizzling sausages force you to put the brakes on for one last snack. If you don’t go home heavier than when you arrived, you’ve failed at your Berg & Bush challenge.
  9. Photo credit: Em Gatland The race within a race is a 1.3km dash for cash held in the evening after day two’s racing at the Berg & Bush Descent. Beukes winning time was four minutes, 38 seconds, while Lill charged home in a time of five minutes and 55 seconds. Riders start their engines at the entrance to famous Spionkop battle site and rev all the way into the red zone as the head for the summit. First place in the men’s and ladies race each takes home R20 000. The Volvo Spionkop Summit was first held three years ago and has proven to be popular with riders and spectators alike. The race is open to anyone in the Berg & Bush field, but the challenge is usually accepted by the elite riders - and a few enthusiastic weekend warriors - with the bulk of the field lining the Spionkop climb to support the racing. Cash per kilometre, it is probably the richest mountain bike race in South Africa and certainly one of the very few times where mountain biking fans can see the efforts of elite riders up close. Cowbells, raucous cheers and a Drakensberg backdrop dripping in golden light from the sunset make the Spionkop Summit an event to remember. Men’s winner Beukes certainly won’t forget it in a hurry. “Hard. That’s the only word to describe it,” he puffed at the top. After slightly regaining his composure from the lung-busting effort, he continued, “Hard. Hard. Hard.” In a field featuring rising star Julian Jessop, Gawie Combrinck, Nico Bell and Phil Buys, Beukes came out on top, on top, thanks to a superior warm up. Ahead of the race he went up Spionkop twice at race pace. “I went up before the race; I went hard for two minutes, relaxed for two minutes, then went really hard again for the last 40 seconds.” His warm up and subsequent race strategy proved to be a winner. With 100m to go, Beukes was lying fifth in a bunch, but he accelerated when it mattered, crossing the line first while looking over his shoulder for a tiring Bell. In the background, his ecstatic Pyga teammates were shouting prize money spending advise, “Nappies! Baby formula! More nappies.” Photo credit: Em Gatland In the ladies race, Candice Lill was the dominant force. From the halfway mark of the sprint, she was in a bunch with teammate Vera Adrian and Berg & Bush Descent race leaders, Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders. By the time they reached the last twist in the road to the summit, Lill was in a class of her own, crossing the line comfortably ahead of second-placed McDougall. “The plan was always to come and win this,” said Lill. “The racing wasn’t too bad until we all saw the spectators, then the guys just went nuts and started hammering it! I did three warm up rides, so I knew exactly when to lay off and when to kick. This is tough, but it’s great to race in front of cheering people.” Race organiser Gary Green was thrilled with the turnout. “This adds something extra to our event, and I have to say, I’m so impressed with the effort that these guys put in. They are racing during the day, then they still come up here and give it their all. It’s something special and unique for the spectators too; there’s not many opportunities to watch elite riders like this, and I think this race shows everyone how strong these guys are.” Volvo Spionkop Summit resultsMen 1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 00:04:38 2 Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) 00:04:40 3 Phil Buys (Pyga Euro Steel) 00:04:47 Ladies 1 Candice Lill (dormakaba) 00:05:55 2 Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 00:06:05 3 Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) 00:06:08 Planning your next race? Take a look at our events calendar here.
  10. The men’s title was claimed by Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel), with Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) romping home in fine style to claim the ladies crown. Team Pyga Euro Steel lead NAD Pro MTB. Photo credit: Em Gatland. On day three, Buys and Beukes claimed their second stage win of the event in a time of 01:51:45. McDougall and Sanders won day three in the ladies race (02:03:54), claiming their third straight stage win in the process. Last year’s defending champions in the ladies, Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba), placed second overall after three days of racing (though Lill will leave the event R20 000 richer after winning Saturday’s Volvo Spionkop Summit). “We’re so happy with this win,” beamed McDougall. Sanders added, “We’re happy with the way we rode, and the way we approached the racing. Last week we had terrible luck at a race, but this weekend everything wen’t according to plan.” With a few races still to come before the end of the season, McDougall will eventually clock in at 10 stage races for the year. The riding seems to be paying off, though. “Sam and I are racing really well; we’re in good form and in a good place. At the moment we are riding at a similar level and that really makes for a good team vibe. We also both enjoy riding, which makes racing together great fun.” Valencia Ladies negotiating the turns. Photo credit: Em Gatland. For Buys and Beukes, the victory was another positive result in their debut season as Team Pyga Euro Steel. “It’s great to win today,” said Beukes. “It’s my first time here, so to walk away with the title is very rewarding.” The final day’s racing got off to a slower start than the previous two days, with the speed only ramping up at the famous Spionkop climb. It was here that Buys and Beukes accelerated, with Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) in close attendance. The four eventually crossed the line together. “Phil and I have worked hard this year,” said Beukes. “We’ve planned well, prepared well and obviously had our fair share of luck. The win is a good reward for the work we’ve put in. I won’t lie, though, it’s been a long year and I’m starting to get tired now.” Overall, the weekend’s riding went down a treat with the front, middle and back of the pack. “This was an amazing weekend of riding,” said Beukes. “Today was great; the final 10km stretch is incredible, but I think my favourite day was day two, single track all the way.” A satisfied Gary Green, the race organiser, was also happy with the overall race outcome. “It’s very rewarding to stand on the finish line and listen to all the positive comments,” he said. “A lot of work goes into the trails, and the local land owners are very accepting of us taking 1000 mountain bikers through their property three times in the week, so to know that everyone is enjoying themselves makes our job easier.” With the Berg & Bush Descent out the way, the race village empties out for a day, only to be filled again by riders from the Berg & Bush Great Trek. 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent results day 3Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 01:51:45 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 01:51:46 3 Julian Jessop and Phil Sebona (Pyga Euro Steel 2) 01:52:21 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 02:03:54 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 02:07:21 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 02:09:42 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent Final GC Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 06:27:28 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 06:32:40 3 Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) 06:37:58 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 07:08:49 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 07:19:07 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 07:31:49
  11. In the ladies race, Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) consolidated their overnight lead with another stage win (2:28:07), once again getting the better of Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) in the closing kilometres of the race (2:30:11). The Pyga pair of Buys and Beukes were home first in a time of 2:08:11 on the relatively short 60km day; day one’s winners, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) trailing them by six minutes to claim second on the day (2:14:50). Photo credit: Em Gatland With a slim overnight lead going into day two, Bell and Combrinck now have their work cut out for them after they suffered a gashed tyre 40km into the second day of racing. Their time loss allowed Buys and Beukes to open up an overall lead of around five minutes with one day to go. “That was fun, a really great stage of mountain biking,” said Beukes. “The conditions were perfect and I think it was single track from start to finish. Of course, it helps that we won, but overall it’s definitely one of the great stages of cycling.” For most of the day’s race, it was a two-horse tussle, with Bell and Combrinck sticking with Buys and Beukes. Disaster struck for NAD Pro MTB when Combrinck slashed his tyre while attempting to overtake the Pyga team on the last big climb of the day, Mike’s Pass. At first they inserted a tube, but eventually had to wait for Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) to hand over a spare wheel. The delay gave Buys and Beukes ample opportunity to open up the gap. “It was a fast start,” said Buys. “Nico and Gawie were with us from the start, but we really went out guns blazing and tried to force the pace. We just never stopped attacking; it worked out for us in the end.” In the ladies race McDougall and Sanders were dominant again, finishing the day with huge, mud-splattered smiles. “Fun, fun, fun,” was McDougall’s assessment of the stage. “The trails were brilliant and we found ourselves riding alone for large sections, which was fantastic. Our aim was always to go out and attack from the start, which we achieved. Candice and Vera were with us until the last climb, where we were able to push on and away from them.” Photo credit: Em Gatland Defending champ Lill was full of praise for the race leaders. “Amy and Sam are riding so well,” she said. “Today they were just too strong for us. We couldn’t match them for power up the last big climb and they pulled away. But we enjoyed ourselves out there. It was pure mountain biking fun. The trails are excellent and the cool weather made the riding really enjoyable.” Day two of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent was bushveld bliss for the 1000 or so riders taking part. With conditions overcast and cool once again, the field could tackle the likes of Ox Wagon Hill, Mike’s Pass, Puffadder Pass and Nicky’s Nightmare in ideal riding conditions. The 60km day featured approximately 900m of climbing, but the hills were all short and sharp; enough to take the breath away before opening up into exhilarating single track trails. Photo credit: Em Gatland The surrounding Drakensberg mountains, red soil trails and numerous acacia trees gave the day’s riding a truly African feel, and with the Tugela River flowing freely, day 2 is a riding experience that lasts long in the memory. The two water points on the route are also staffed by enthusiastic Winterton locals, all doing their best to feed the riders more than necessary. Day three is another short day, but features the iconic climb up Spionkop, a highlight for many and a horror for some as the equally tough Lantana Climb needs to be conquered first. The final 10km of the event though is riding bliss, with flowing single track allowing riders to race home with grins almost as wide as the event’s famous Bell Run berms. Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent results day 2Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 2:08:11 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 2:14:50 3 Wessel Both and Henry Liebenberg (Absolute Motion) 2:14:54 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 2:28:07 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 2:30:11 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 2:33:17 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent GC Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 4:35:43 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 4:40:54 3 Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) 4:43:58 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 5:04:55 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 5:11:46 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 5:22:07
  12. Photo credit: Em Gatland. The Mpumalanga pair finished in a time of 2:26:04. Second went to Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kabuki Breeders) in a time of 2:26:09. Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel), in a time of 2:27:32, were home in third. The day’s riding distance remained at 99km, but due to heavy rain in the region leading up to the first day of racing, the first 32km of day one was ridden as a neutral zone, with the race proper starting at the first water point. In the ladies race, Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) claimed day one honours (2:36:48), with dormakaba's Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (2:41:35) coming in second after puncture issues. Third in the ladies was Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro), finishing in 2:48:50. Photo credit: Em Gatland. The race started in cold and misty conditions at Windmill Farm on the banks of the Sterkfontein Dam. As the clouds lifted, a field featuring some of South Africa's top MTB talent turned up the heat, hurtling towards the finish and race village at Em'seni Camp on the banks of the Tugela River. In the men’s race, the shorter racing distance allowed a large bunch to stick together, with the top riders only splitting around the 75km mark. Up until that point, Buys and Beukes, along with Hill and Sidey, had been in control of the pace at the front, but just after the third water point Bell was able to accelerate, taking Combrinck with, and pull away from the field. Hill and Sidey chased, staying with the leaders until a sprint in the final 200m saw Bell and Combrinck over the line first. “That felt longer than 99km for some reason, but it was a good, fun ride,” said Bell. “The route was actually in great condition and the riding was really enjoyable. The rain meant there was no dust, and I thought everything was rideable.” As the race entered the business end, there was a four man pile-up that could have derailed three teams. Phil Buys’s handlebar caught Combrinck, the resulting instability taking down Bell, Sidey and Buys. No bikes or riders were harmed, though, and the three teams were able to race on. “The racing was a bit flat in the start,” said Combrinck, “but after the second water point Nico started riding hard and that upped the tempo. Apart from the crash there were no issues; the riding was really good overall. It was a little bit slippery in the beginning, but the trails were fantastic and you could see a lot of effort had been put in.” In a reversal of fortunes from a race a week ago, McDougall and Sanders were able to get home ahead of Lill and Adrian thanks to a minor mechanical suffered by the later around the 65km mark. “Candice and Vera had a puncture and we were able to get away,” said Sanders. “We rode hard and really enjoyed it, the trails were fantastic.” Photo credit: Em Gatland. The leading ladies stuck with the second bunch of men for much of the race, before pulling away towards the end of the route. “What an amazing day of riding,” said McDougall. “Tough but fun. The rain made the trails nice and tacky, so you could really go all out. It was great conditions to ride in.” The day one route featured some of the region's iconic mountain bike trails; Great Wall my China and Baboon Route took riders along the top of the escarpment, with sweeping views of KwaZulu-Natal below, while the twisting and turning Solly's Folly - switchbacks for days - was the perfect way to ride off the escarpment and into the valley. Everest, the final roller-coaster descent of the day, was followed by the leafy Garden of Eden trail, the final 5km stretch of the day's riding flows alongside the Tugela River. Day two the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush is a shorter day - just 60km - but starts off with the lung-busting Ox Wagon Hill before heading into the excellent bushveld trail and single track. With some short, sharp climbs and technical descents, riders' fitness and skill levels will be tested. After the day's racing, the riders will then relocate to the top of Spionkop for the Volvo Spionkop, a 1.3km dash for cash from the bottom of the famous hill to the top. The winning male and female rider will each be rewarded with R20 000 for their efforts. Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent day 1 results Men 1 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 2:26:04 2 Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kabuki Breeders) 2:26:09 3 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 2:27:32 4 Wessel Botha and Henry Liebenberg (Absolute Motion) 2:32:35 5 Michael Posthumus and Derrin Smith (William Simpson) 2:33:42Ladies 1 Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) 2:36:48 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 2:41:35 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 2:48:50 4 Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph (Team Garmin Galileo Risk) 2:54:01 5 Christie-Liegh Hearder and Courteney Webb (Absolute Motion Ladies) 3:13:51
  13. The who’s who of local mountain biking will be on the scene for the weekend’s racing, aiming to get their hands on the R40 000 prize money for overall first place as well as the R20 000 that’s up for grabs in the Volvo Spionkop Summit. Photo credit: Em Gatland. Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) will be hoping to go one better than last year’s second-place finish, while Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys (PYGA Euro Steel 1) will be looking to carry on their excellent 2017 form. Julian Jessop and Philimon Sebona (PYGA Euro Steel 2) will also be in attendance, no doubt aiming for a PYGA one-two in an area that his close to PYGA’s hometown of Pietermaritzburg. Sebona, who has spent part of the year training in Belgium, is particularly looking forward to the racing. “I’m excited for this one because it’s my first big stage race with Team PYGA Euro Steel as well as racing with my new partner, Julian Jessop,” he says. “From everything that I know about Berg & Bush, I’m expecting to have a lot of fun because of the trails and the spectacular scenery, but I also know the racing will be challenging.” In the ladies race, defending champions Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (Dormakaba) will face their biggest challenge in the shape of Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall (Valencia Ladies). Both teams have been racing well this year, with Lill and Adrian getting the better of McDougall and Sanders in their most recent match up (at the Three Towers event held in late September). One half of last year's winning ladies team, Vera Adrian, is ready to defend the title, even though she's coming into the race off her European road racing season. "I only came back from Europe two weeks ago, my motivation is high to defend our title, but where my form is, we will see on Friday. The first day will be key, it has lots of descent and it is a tactical race for us women. It is important to get into a good group on the open roads." After participating in the event with her father last year, McDougall is looking forward to the challenge of racing hard in the bushveld. “Sam and I are in a great place at the moment,” says McDougall. “We’re both fit and riding well together. At Three Towers we felt in command, only to be derailed by a mechanical which ultimately cost us the win. We will definitely push hard and go for the win. But with racing, we’ll just have to wait and see. There are tactics, but it all comes down to how everything pans out on the day.” After the weekend’s racing, McDougall will stay on to ride in the Berg & Bush Great Trek - again with her father. “It’s great; I love racing, but it’s also nice to stop and take pictures at what is a very special event!” Something special at the Berg & Bush Descent that other events don’t offer is a 2km sprint worth R20 000. The Volvo Spionkop Summit, now in it’s third year, takes place in the evening after the second day’s racing. Riders make their way to the base of Spionkop then, in a flurry of spinning pedals and heavy breathing, charge to the top of the famous KwaZulu-Natal battle site. Photo credit: Gavin Ryan. Watched by the bulk of the Descent’s field, the frenetic racing of the Volvo Spionkop Summit is the closest thing South African cycling fans have to a thrill-a-second race-viewing experience more commonly seen at top international road cycling events. “The Volvo Spionkop Summit has really added a spark to the Berg & Bush Descent’s weekend,” says race organiser Gary Green. “Last year we had terrific scenes on Spionkop as they main race contenders diced to the top. I think it creates an excellent spectator experience for cycling fans, but also rewards these elite riders for the amount of effort they put in to race week in and week out. We are thrilled to have the top guys and ladies here for the Descent, and look forward to them thrilling us with some great racing.”
  14. With around 2700 cyclists expected over the course of the three events, the race village will be a hive of activity, especially the Centriq Chill Zone. It’s here that riders can relax while overlooking the river, enjoying the best beers in the ‘Berg courtesy of the Cape Brewing Company and enjoy the fine wines of Fairview. As usual, the Berg & Bush goes out of its way to make the rider experience the real reason to return to the Drakensberg-based event year after year. Trail tweaks, rider jersey upgrades and a host of race village treats lie in wait for this year’s lucky entrants. In keeping with their ambition to constantly raise the bar, the Berg & Bush has partnered with revered KwaZulu-Natal artists Ardmore Ceramic Art to create a pleasingly elegant cycling jersey for the 2017 event. Riders will receive the jersey in their 2017 Berg & Bush goodie bag. Off-bike activties will include the renowned history talk that takes place on top of Spioenkop, with local historians recounting the ill-fated 1900 tussle between the Boers and the Brits that took place on the hill. The talk is accompanied by sweeping views of the surrounding area, making it the most scenic history lesson in the country. On the weekend of the Descent, the tussle on Spioenkop will be between the hardiest entrants, as they tackle the Volvo Spioenkop Summit, a blazingly bonkers 2km sprint from the bottom of the hill to the top. With a whopping R20 000 in prize money for the male and female winners, it’s probably the best per kilometre payday in local mountain biking. During the 2 Day, the Volvo Spioenkop Summit will be held again, with the first male and female rider bother taking home R5000. On the trail front, new developments include an upgraded Longdrop Pass down Spioenkop - built by Rob Dormehl of Garden Route Trail Park - and rejuvenated berms on the famous Bell Run. New single track routes have also been built for the event’s “trail grail” day two. With day one of the Descent and Great Trek clocking in at approximately 99km, riders can look forward to a serious leg loosener before unleashing their madcap trail-riding skills on days two and three, both comfortably shorter in distance than the opening stage. The improvements also extend to the campsite lodgings; to make the Berg & Bush feel even more like your own bedroom, the event is now offering improved tents in the Kudu and Kingfisher Camp. Here, riders can enjoy a large canvas safari tent with two beds and mattresses. No bending over, no rustling tent in the breeze and no jostling for position if you happen to be sharing. Although jostling for position might be the order of the day at the bar. The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush takes place near Winterton in KwaZulu-Natal. The first event, the Berg & Bush Descent starts on 6 October 2017. Keen to enter a stage race?Check out our events calendar here or our Stage Race Calendar here.
  15. The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush is fast developing a reputation as an event that puts rider satisfaction and comfort a top priority. Craft beers, the best local wines and excellent food already make this MTB stage race one of the best in the country, but the addition of upgraded tents and increased attention to detail of the amenities available in the race village have taken the Berg & Bush experience to a new level. In the next years, the event organisers promises to make even more changes to the race village creature comforts. Photo credit: Em Gatland Each year Green tweaks the route to ensure that riders have the best time possible, but one of the major areas of change for Berg & Bush has been their race village. Over the years, the village has seen numerous improvements to its layout and amenities, with the race organisers firmly believing that the off-bike experience is as important as the riding. Blessed with a beautiful setting on the banks of Tugela River at Em’seni Camp near Winterton, the Berg & Bush race village is already one of the most spectacular in South Africa. But looks are nothing without substance, and that’s exactly what Berg & Bush offers its overnight guests at the Em’seni site. Apart from incredible meals and warm hospitality, Berg & Bush is going out of its way to provide rider comfort once the day’s cycling is over. Photo credit: Em Gatland Last year riders enjoyed free-flowing chocolate milk while hundreds of bean bags and hammocks were dotted around Em’seni, making afternoon naps and recovery as pleasing as it was essential. “Our focus right now is on the riders’ ultimate recharge – sleep,” says Green. “We’ve purchased large canvas tents and steel beds this year for our Kudu and Kingfisher camps to make sure that participants can sleep in comfort and style.” Green and his team’s vision is to phase out the smaller tents associated with mountain bike stage race villages, and provide tent upgrades for all. “Our goal is to have everyone in large canvas tents in a few years’ time, included in the entry fee. This is our main aim for the next few years and we believe it’s a philosophy that sets us apart from other events.” Another goal for 2018 is to replace the dining marquee with a permanent venue, and to build permanent decks over the Tugela River (currently, a temporary deck is set up at the event for riders to enjoy their evening sundowners). Photo credit: Em Gatland While these are future ambitions, Berg & Bush still aims to please with their village “gees” at this year’s ride. Green and Co ensure this by prioritising tent placement - almost all riders wake up to views of the river, providing a self-camping option for those experienced travellers who want for nothing in their own tents, and providing the best in local beverages. This year riders will be treated to Cape Brewing Company (CBC) draught on tap and wines from Fairview in the Centriq Chill Zone. “We hope to create a tranquil, relaxing setting on the banks of the shady Tugela, creating an experience like no other chill zone in the country,” says Green. Entries for the 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush will close within the next week.
  16. We note the recent developments with regards to Cycling South Africa (CSA). As events and organizers, we are significant contributors through our events and clients (the rider) to the CSA model. In light of recent media reports, we would like to inform our clients and riders that we have requested a meeting with CSA. We have requested this meeting in order to establish certain facts, enquire about specific decisions and understand the processes that have (and will) be put in place to rectify certain aspects of the sports administration that needs attention. CSA immediately acknowledged our request and efficiently setup a meeting accordingly for the 26th June, where President William Newman will be meeting with the respective event representatives. While a lot has been said about CSA's financial position, as a group of KZN based events we feel It is important for us to note and acknowledge that Cycling KZN as a governing body is financially sound and operationally efficient, and we thank the respective volunteers who have put their personal time and effort into the organization to date. Our commitment as a group is to ensure that we represent our partners, clients and riders to the best of our ability in order to help facilitate a sport that is associated with good governance, financially sound principles and a governing body that is focused on growing the sport through good business principles.
  17. The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush takes riders through some of the best scenery and along some of the most incredible trails in South Africa. Starting at Sterkfontein Dam, the Great Trek and Descent takes riders on a winding journey off the escarpment and into the bushveld. With a team dedicated to creating a fun experience on and off the bike, the Berg & Bush is the ideal mountain bike getaway. Photo credit: Em Gatland With an intimate knowledge of the surrounding area, race organiser Gary Green is constantly tweaking the bushveld bliss of his three-day stage race (and the 2 Day). This year, new developments include an upgraded Longdrop Pass down Spioenkop - built by Rob Dormehl of Garden Route Trail Park - and rejuvenated berms on the famous Bell Run. At present, there are also new single track routes being built and added to the event’s trail grail day two. This is a ride that truly is the Holy Trail of mountain biking. “Our aim is always to leave the riders smiling, says Green. “We’ve found that over the years, if you keep improving the trails, and making them more fun, then riders will leave happy and return happy. From the moment last year’s 2 Day event ended, we have been coming up with ideas and plans to improve every aspect of the Berg & Bush.” Some of those additions include the event partnering with the Cape Brewing Company and Fairview wines. A range of their respective products will be on offer at the Berg & Bush at the Centriq Chill Zone, which was a major highlight at the event last year. To make riders feel at home during their stay at the Berg & Bush Em’seni race village, hammocks and bean bags were laid out in abundance, while a temporary sundowner deck was constructed over the Tugela River. Photo credit: Em Gatland One fan of the entire package was 2016 men’s champion, Erik Kleinhans (who rode to victory alongside Matt Beers). “It was my first time at the Berg & Bush last year, and I have to say it was a really special event,” says Kleinhans. “The trails were incredible, but what I enjoyed the most was that they didn’t feel handmade. They looked and felt like they were part of the surroundings, so the riding really felt like you were out in the bush, far away from civilisation. The entire event was great fun, but it was very cool to just lose yourself in the veld. And of course, riding up then down Spioenkop is a truly spectacular way to finish three days of riding.” Kleinhans was also impressed with the off-bike atmosphere of the event, which he says made it feel like a home away from home. “The race village was one of the best I have been in. It’s nice that most people stay there, so there are lots of people chilling out, but there is great food, great scenery and lots of opportunity to spend time with friends and other riders.” Photo credit: Em Gatland To make the Berg & Bush feel even more like your own bedroom, the event is now offering improved tents in the Kudu Camp. Here, riders can enjoy a large canvas safari tent with two beds and mattresses. No bending over, no rustling tent in the breeze and no jostling for position if you happen to be sharing. To find out more, and to enter the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush, go to https://www.bergandbush.co.za/
  18. Entries are almost open for the 2017 edition of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Berg. Last year’s participants will be able to enter from the 1st until the 15th of February, thereafter all mountain bikers who know what’s good for them will be able to enter the most innovative MTB event on the local calendar. Once again, riders will have the option of the Descent (6-8 October), the Great Trek (10-12 October) and the 2 Day (14-15 October). Click here to view the article
  19. With a unique bushveld setting and a trail-building crew determined to provide something new every year, the singletrack at the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush is a cut above the rest. Photo credit: Emma Gatland Famed for its unique, free-flowing bushveld trails, the Berg & Bush offers something for everyone; from the serious racer to the weekend warrior, every day is a treat. Stunning singletrack - including the famed Solly’s Folly - boisterous and well-stocked water tables, and a beer garden like no other, make the Berg & Bush a must-do event (even if it is just to sit on the deck over the Tugela River to watch the sun set while sipping a cold beer). “Last year we really tried to create the best possible racing and post-race environment,” says founder Gary Green. “Based on all the positive feedback we’ve had, I’d say that the route and the Centriq Chill Zone were both great successes. Our aim is to build on that to make the Berg & Bush an exceptional mountain biking experience, and also a great social occasion for riders of all types.” In an event packed with highlights, the Berg & Bush is worth doing simply to enjoy the mind-boggling 13km descent that closes out each of the final days. From the top of Spioenkop, riders fly to the finish line on the ultimate singletrack send-off, ending the race with wide grins and whoops of delight. It’s a fitting finale that will leave you wishing for a fourth day of riding. “Last year was my first year taking part in the Berg & Bush,” says cross-country guru and 2016 Berg & Bush champion, Erik Kleinhans, “and even though it is a little off the beaten track and might make logistics a little bit harder, I did find missioning into the bush gave the event some extra character.” Kleinhans was a huge fan of the trails, and not just because he and partner Matt Beers were winners on debut. “I really enjoyed the terrain and trails. They were natural, technical and flowy. I also enjoyed the landscape of an area I don’t often get the chance to visit. The organisers do a great job to give the event a lovely laid back feeling, where not much is rushed and it’s as if you are chilling at a Sunday market after a bike ride!” The Centriq Chill Zone was a huge success at the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush. Riders could enjoy bean bags, hammocks, bottomless and free chocolate milk and ice-cold Castle Draught on tap. A particular highlight was the temporary deck built over the Tugela River. Photo credit: Emma Gatland. Beers summed up the event succinctly after his three days in KwaZulu-Natal, stating simply, “What a rad three days.” As usual, the Berg & Bush team is hard at work cutting new trails to keep the event fresh, while this year there’s also focus on upgrading tents. “We want riders to have the most comfortable sleeping experience at the event, so we have invested in large canvas tents and beds for the riders to upgrade if they'd like, and have an even more comfortable experience should they wish.” says Green. “We are now offering these tents within our ‘Kudu Camp’ area, as well as the ‘Kingfisher Camp’.” To enter and for more event information, please visit bergandbush.co.za
  20. The Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush mountain bike event is thrilled to announce Volvo as their new official vehicle partner. The Swedish luxury vehicle brand that prides itself on not following the norm, and doing things “the Volvo way”, not only joins Berg & Bush as a vehicle partner, but also providing the prize money for the “Volvo Summit”. A rider makes his way up the lung-busting Spioenkop during the 2015 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush event. This year Volvo will be sponsoring the prize money for the Volvo Summit - a 2km race up Spioenkop that will take place after the first day of riding at The Descent. The first male and female rider to reach the top will each receive R20 000. Image credit: Em Gatland The Volvo Summit, an event within an event where any participants of The Descent can enter to race up a 2km stretch of the famous Spioenkop after the first day’s riding, speaks directly to Volvo’s philosophy of doing things differently – that’s why the prize for the first male and female rider to reach the top of Spioenkop is R20 000 each. Riders finishing second, third, fourth and fifth – both male and female – will also earn a share from the ‘dash for cash’. A remaining R23 000 from the R100 000 purse will go towards prizes in the original two-day event. “Everything we do starts and ends with people,” says Michelle Naudé, marketing director of Volvo Cars South Africa. “At Volvo we always say, ‘we're Volvo, we put people first’. So for us it makes sense to partner with an event that has become renowned over the years for putting their riders first. At Volvo we’re always looking for fun interactions; that’s why the Volvo Summit is the perfect fit for us too.” Volvo, of course, also cares about cyclists. All their cars come standard with an auto-braking system called City Safety which in their newest cars - the XC90 and S90 - includes pedestrian and cyclist detection as standard. The City Safety system uses a windscreen-mounted camera to detect cyclists and, if necessary, the car is able to apply full braking force to avoid a collision with a cyclist should the driver not react in time. This feature can be added as an option on other Volvo models. Braking is one thing the Berg & Bush won’t ask riders to do, though, when they are flying down the kilometres of sweet singletrack at the event. Volvo, however, will be giving all Berg & Bush riders a break should they decide to purchase a Volvo. All entrants will get a 5% discount off any new Volvo or Volvo accessory they buy; a unique cyclist’s discount. “We are very pleased to welcome Volvo to the Berg & Bush family,” says race founder Gary Green. “We pride ourselves on being a unique and memorable mountain biking experience with not only something for everyone, but with something special for everyone who takes part. The Volvo Summit is just another element that makes the Berg & Bush unique and with Volvo’s generous involvement we’ve been able to make it the richest two kilometres in South African mountain biking.” For more information please visit: http://www.bergandbush.co.za/
  21. In a star-studded local field at the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush, it was Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Red E Topeak Ergon) that stood head and shoulders above the rest. Leading from start to finish, the recently-formed team took the overall honours after three days of furious racing in KwaZulu-Natal. Click here to view the article
  22. Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Red E Topeak Ergon) claim victory at the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush three-day stage race in KwaZulu-Natal. The pair saw off stiff competition from the cream of South African mountain biking to record a win on their debut at the event. Credit: Gavin Ryan. Matt Beers was thrilled with his victory, a first for the big friendly giant of South African mountain biking on his Berg & Bush debut. "This is a big monkey off my back," said an elated Beers. "I've always wanted to win a prestigious stage race and the Berg & Bush, with such a brilliant field, definitely ticks that box. It's very special to win against this level of competition. I love the challenge, I love the fight, so I am stoked that Erik and I have won this." Kleinhans and Beers fought off the challenge of Phil Buys, Gert Heyns, Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck, Alan Hatherly, Johann Rabie, HB Kruger and more local MTB top dogs over the course of three thrilling days in the KwaZulu-Natal bushveld. On a shortish, flat final stage - with the only major bump being Spioenkop - the lead bunch was big, 10 teams racing hard to make a final impression. Kleinhans knew the trick was to back off and not let anyone ruin their chances with an untimely crash. "The goal for today was not to lose any time. There were a lot of teams fighting for position, so I said to Matt let's just hold back and get the overall title." This is also Kleinhans's first Berg & Bush, and the race has certainly lived up to the hype - the win helping, of course. "Today was another lovely stage with a nice flat start, with racing really picking up on the trails. This definitely ranks up there as one of my best wins. Before the race we had no idea how to win with so many cross country racers here. I am extremely happy to win. That being said, I look forward to coming back when I am a ballie, so I can enjoy the trails and then sit on bean bags next to the river!" Adrian and Neethling nail it In the women's race an excellent Stage 1 from Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian (Dorma Time Freight) was enough to give them the edge in the overall stakes ahead of Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis Health). De Groot and Stenerhag threw everything into the mix to snatch the race win, but Neethling and Adrian had the answers to all their questions. Candice Neethling (Dorma Time Freight) powers home hot on the heels of Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis Health) at the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush three-day stage race in KwaZulu-Natal. Neething and teammate Vera Adrian started the day in the overall lead and almost lost it when De Groot and Stenerhag opened up a two-minute time gap. In the end, Neethling and Adrian were strong enough to reel them in. Credit: Gavin Ryan. "That was really hard. Harder than I expected," said a dust-covered, teary-eyed, but victorious Vera Adrian. "I already knew last night that today would be tough because I could feel that I was getting sick, but then Robyn and Jennie really hammered it today." At one stage, just before the dreaded climb up Spioenkop, De Groot and Stenerhag held a two minute advantage over Neethling and Adrian, a gap that would have given the Ascendis ladies the overall win. But Neethling and Adrian threw caution to the wind and skipped down the singletrack on other side of the hill like foxes chasing a particularly tasty hare. Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis Health) power home on the final stage of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush three-day stage race in KwaZulu-Natal. They claimed two of the three stages, but it wasn't enough for the overall win. Credit: Gavin Ryan. "We gave it everything to make up the time. Vera was amazing going down the singletrack" said Neethling, sporting a cut lip and a face that looked like she'd been leopard crawling around a Boer War battlefield. "It was a great race with Robyn and Jennie. Today was tough, but I'm thrilled to take the win at such a great event. I love racing here." Adrian, too, was delighted that the hard work had paid off. "It's obviously always nice to win, but it's even more rewarding to come out on top when the racing has been so fierce." Results Stage 3 men: 1 Philip Buys and Gert Heyns - Scott LCB Factory Racing - 01:51:49 2 Hendrik Kruger and Johann Rabie - Team Telkom - 01:51:50 3 Konny Looser and Lourens Luus - PSG BiXS Pro Team - 01:51:51 4 Alan Hatherly and Brendon Davids - Kargo Pro Swiss Cycles - 01:51:54 5 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck - NAD PRO MTB - 01:51:58Results Stage 3 women: 1 Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag - Team Ascendis Health - 02:07:13 2 Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian - Dorma Time Freight - 02:07:59 3 Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph - Galileo Risk Garmin - 02:18:08 4 Michelle Benson and Janice Venter - LCB Pretoria Box - 02:30:13 5 Bonny Swanepoel and Nadine Visagie - Pocket Rockets - 02:30:33 Results overall men: 1 Matt Beers and Erik Kleinhans - Red E Topeak Ergon - 07:25:17 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck - NAD PRO MTB - 07:26:56 3 Gert Heyns and Philip Buys - Scott LCB Factory Racing - 07:29:33 Results overall women: 1 Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian - Dorma Time Freight - 08:36:12 2 Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag - Team Ascendis Health - 08:36:40 3 Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph - Galileo Risk Garmin - 09:16:46
  23. The elite field at the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush charged through the 60km Stage 2 course with such ferocity that some in the race village wondered if the final batch of riders might be able to watch the winners come in. Click here to view the article
  24. Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers claimed the 60km Stage 2 of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush in a time of 02:06:50. The pair maintain their overall lead ahead of the 50km third and final stage tomorrow which sees riders tackle the famous Spoienkop climb before enjoying a 13km singeltrack finish. Photo credit: Gavin Ryan. In the end, race leaders Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Red E Topeak Ergon) and the chasing pack weren’t fast wave enough to wave the J batch hello and goodbye, but it was an electrifying pace nonetheless. Stage 1 winners Kleinhans and Beers were in no mood to mess about, and made a decisive strike with 30km to go to claim Stage 2 in a time of 02:06:50. They finished just under two minutes ahead of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD PRO MTB), which opened up a decent 90 second-plus lead going into the final day’s short 50km stage. Third over the line on Stage 2 was the Scott LCB Factory Racing pair of Phil Buys and Gert Heyns. The early morning conditions at the Em'seni camp start were perfect for riding, slightly cloudy and cool. The race leaders showed their intent in the start pen, lining up in a pincer formation on either side of the other riders, though Kleinhans insists it was purely by accident. By design or not, once the gun went Kleinhans and Beers shot out of the start area and straight into the front of the pack. The elite bunch held together for half the race, with about 10 teams jostling for position. With some explosive riding, Alan Hatherly and Brendon Davids (Kargo Pro Swiss Cycles) were able to take charge for some time, instigating most of the attacks with only Kleinhans and Beers willing to follow. It was at the halfway stage, at the steep climb of Mike’s Pass, that the race opened up. With Hatherly and Davids stepping off the gas - their focus now falls on this evening's Volvo Summit 2km sprint race up Spioenkop - it was Red E Topeak Ergon, NAD PRO MTB and Scott LCB Factory Racing in the hunt. “Matt just decided to blast away up and down that hill,” said Kleinhans. “After that we lost the guys behind us and managed to open up a gap. Once that happened we just kept going at full gas.” Despite the speedy finish and shorter distance after a 99km Stage 1, Beers said the racing was tough. “That was hard. Guys were going full tilt from start to finish. It was a proper morning of riding.” His views were echoed by Kleinhans, Gert Heyns and Phil Buys, all of who are new to the event, but seem to be enjoying the trails. “The riding is great,” said Buys. “The trails are not too manicured and provide a nice challenge for racing. It’s been tough at the front end of the field, but Gert and I are really enjoying this.” Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag claimed the 60km Stage 2 of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush in a time of 02:30:17, just one second ahead of Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian, who remain overall leaders in the event's women's race. Tomorrow, the final 50km Stage 3 sees riders tackle the famous Spoienkop climb before enjoying a 13km singeltrack finish. Photo credit: Gavin Ryan. In the women’s race there was a sprint finish for the line, with Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Team Ascendis Health) snatching the win from Stage 1 winners and overall leaders Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian (Dorma Time Freight). The Ascendis Health winning time for the day was 02:30:17, Neethling and Adrian a mere second behind. “That was really enjoyable,” said a dusty but smiling Robyn de Groot. “The route was good, the singletrack was fun and the racing was excellent. It was very tactical. On such a short stage it’s tough to get time back, but Jennie and I went as hard as we could to get into the singletrack ahead of Candice and Vera. That was how most of the ride went, as we were together the whole way. In the end, we managed to get into the singletrack just before the finish too.” Stenerhag, who has come out of the European racing season, is struggling with the altitude, but is enjoying the novel experience of the Berg & Bush. “I’m a little tired and not at my best, but it’s fun to ride a new race. We often do the same races every year, so to come up here and take it all in and see something different is very cool.” Tonight riders have the option of tackling the Volvo Summit, a 2km sprint up Spioenkop with a R20 000 prize for the fastest male and female rider to the top. Or they can wait for Sunday’s 50km Stage 3, which will take the field up and over the famous battle site before the dash home on a newly-minted 13km singeltrack finish. Results Stage 2 men:1 Matt Beers and Erik Kleinhans - Red E Topeak Ergon - 02:06:50 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck - NAD PRO MTB - 02:08:22 3 Gert Heyns and Philip Buys - Scott LCB Factory Racing - 02:08:52 4 Lourens Luus and Konny Looser - PSG BiXS Pro Team - 02:08:52 5 Hendrik Kruger and Johann Rabie - Team Telkom - 02:08:54 Results Stage 2 women: 1 Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag - Team Ascendis Health - 02:30:17 2 Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian - Dorma Time Freight - 02:30:18 3 Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph - Galileo Risk Garmin - 02:39:18 4 Anli Smith and Tamaryn Kietzmann - Complete Cyclist - 02:50:26 5 Bonny Swanepoel and Nadine Visagie - Pocket Rockets - 02:53:13 Results overall men: 1 Matt Beers and Erik Kleinhans - Red E Topeak Ergon - 05:33:16 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck - NAD PRO MTB - 05:34:58 3 Gert Heyns and Philip Buys - Scott LCB Factory Racing - 05:37:43 Results overall women: 1 Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian - Dorma Time Freight - 06:28:13 2 Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag - Team Ascendis Health - 06:29:27 3 Yolandi du Toit and Theresa Ralph - Galileo Risk Garmin - 06:58:38
  25. The conditions at the start of the 2016 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush were cool. The riding from the elite bunch, though, was scorching hot. Setting the scintillating pace was one of the strongest pro fields ever assembled at the Berg & Bush Descent. Click here to view the article
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