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  1. The joBerg2c truly has it all. Nine days of riding through ever-changing terrain, with warm hospitality, excellent food, ice cold craft beer, the sweetest singletrack, the most sublime scenery and the biggest heart of any mountain bike ride in the world. Yes, that’s right, the joBerg2c has the nicest people from start to finish, whether at water tables, along the route or in the race village; it’s a bold claim, but one you can discover to be accurate when you ride this incredible route yourself. The joBerg2c is a wild ride, a jolly journey, and a mind-blowing trip though South African culture and cuisine. And then there are those people, the men and women dedicated to making your ride as pleasing as possible. “The beating heart of the Old Mutual joBerg2c, and what sets the ride apart from the many that South Africa has to offer, is the warmth of the people involved,” says race organiser Craig Wapnick. “We follow a community-driven model, where every water table and race village is manned by a local community. The joBerg2c uses no outside caterers or suppliers, rather encouraging the communities along the route to utilise the event as a fund-raising platform.” From Frankfort to Jolivet, every water table is different, every race village unique. Local farmers, school children, teachers, parents, church groups and other organisations combine to create a friendly and funky atmosphere. “This also generates healthy competition amongst the communities, to the benefit of the rider, as they attempt to outdo each other at every turn; Nutella flapjacks, bacon, boerie rolls, ice-cream, mini doughnuts, ham and tomato sandwiches… these are just some of the items that local farmers will try to force feed you over the nine day journey.” For the non-believers, just take a look at this joBerg2c nine-day sample menu: river crossings, forest trails, sweeping switchbacks, climbs that leave you gasping for air followed by eye-watering descents, floating bridges, wandering wildlife (this year a little bokkie camped out for a few hours at a water table, unfazed by the bikes flying past), steak rolls, lamb on the spit, chocolate milk, and enough mountain biking variety over the 900km to keep you sane until you enter again. Every day provides something different for sightseeing cyclists; day 1 is the mighty Vaal crossing, day 2 there are wolves - actual live wolves, and when you ride the last 5km over the Sterkfrontein Dam wall on day 3 you tackle the most iconic finish to any stage at any event in South Africa. Day 4 features an adrenalin-pumping 10km singletrack finish, day 5 presents riders with a race village setting straight out of the Alps, day 6 has 27 switchbacks on a single descent, day 7 is singletrack heaven, the Umkomaas Drop awaits on day 8, while day 9 is the neutral stage that every hard-partying mountain biker has been crying out for. From nine days of riding, you detox from the stress of real life; joBerg2c is your cheapest therapy bill. From the brilliant to the back markers, 100 percent of joBerg2c finishers agree that the nine-day, 900km expedition by bike is a blast. Take the word of Dutch riders Gerben Mos and Braam Rood, who were in contention for the race win, who simply called every day’s riding at the joBerg2c, “Effing great”. The 2018 Old Mutual joBerg2c takes place from 20th April to 28th April.
  2. The final three days of the joBerg2c includes the entire three-day sani2c route, which gives elite riders that do both a good opportunity to check out the route before they hit the trails again just 12 days later. And this year, with some major changes to the sani2c’s decisive 'Iconic Climb' out the Umkomaas Valley on Day 2, taking part in the longer event could give riders a critical advantage. The Team PYGA Eurosteel duo of Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys continued their good form at the Old Mutual joBerg2c where they took the overall race honours standing them in good stead for the 2017 KAP sani2c next week. Em Gatland/ Gameplan Media “We had some time on our hands going into the final three days of joBerg2c so we used that as a good opportunity to map out our attack on the route,” PYGA Euro Steel’s Philip Buys mentioned. “I think it has been about six years since I last did a sani2c, so it was nice to be able to see the route again in racing conditions.” The PYGA Euro Steel duo of Buys and Beukes were in stellar form at the Absa Cape Epic where they rode away with the African Jersey for the fastest all-African team, and they have continued their form into the early winter racing season. Despite their good form, one can never write off the NAD Pro MTB Team of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell, who pushed the winning duo all the way to the coast over the joBerg2c. Recuperation from the nine-day slog to the East Coast before the shorter, faster three-day sani2c showdown is going to be the key for the teams that took part. “We feel that we have improved and are continuing to improve, which a good thing. We have avoided sickness which has meant that we have been able to train at our optimum,” said Buys. “I thought that I would be a lot more broken after joBerg2c but we are both feeling quite strong and the race (joBerg2c) is quite smooth so it doesn’t break you down as much as others.” Looking too closely into the form of other teams at the joBerg2c could prove to be detrimental, as Buys knows the more competitive nature of the sani2c means that the field will be stronger. “There are going to be quite a few teams that are going to come into the sani2c a lot fresher after giving joBerg2c a miss. “But with that said, we have come through the nine days well and feel good, so I think that form and racing experience will be beneficial for us going into the race. “We are going into next week with a lot of confidence but we know that the competition is going to be fierce, so it’s important for us to train well and be as prepared as possible,” Buys stressed. This year is the 13th edition of the KAP sani2c, the world’s largest mountain bike stage race, which takes place from Himeville to Scottburgh during the second week of May. There are three races which form the event. On May 9, the Trail riders set off from Himeville for MacKenzie Farm near Ixopo. Then on the next day, while they are heading for Jolivet Farm in Highflats, the Adventure riders take on stage one. As the Trail riders dash to Scottburgh on May 11, the serious Race riders set off on their three-day journey from Himeville. For more information on KAPsani2c: Info@KAPsani2c.co.za or www.sani2c.co.za
  3. Fancy dress kept the mood light on the final stage. Photo credit: Em GatlandWhat a way to end off nine days of traversing the country by bike. The neutral stage meant a leisurely roll off the start line anytime between 7 and 8am. With flights to catch and bikes to box we opted to head out at 7. Stage 9 was also a dress up stage- the theme being anything green, and I was over the moon with the neon green tutus the organisers had provided, amongst other options, to help with the dress up. Somehow riding in a tutu made every thing feel more fun. Photo credit: Em Gatland The route itself is fairly flat and comfortable: there are no major climbs or challenges, and it made for a very social experience. It was a pleasure to be be able to enjoy the full extent of the water points without rushing, and to stop at the top of every hill to admire the view. I wasn’t expecting to feel this way: but I really think there is something great about a neutral stage: especially for races that are as long, and traverse as much varied terrain as joBerg2c. It lets riders race, but also forces even the racing snakes to take a sanity check and appreciate the experience. Photo credit: Em Gatland Today we were into the vast sugar cane fields and lush tropical jungle of the KZN coastal region, with some spectacular views from the rolling hillsides. The route was predominately jeep track, linking a few flowing single track sections. We took our time, and ensured the Bar One and donut stocks at the water points were suitably depleted before moving on. My apologies to the riders that came through after us. The sense of achievement I got from our first sight of the sea was immense: we really had ridden from Heidelberg all the way down to the coast. The famed floating bridge over the river at Scottburgh presented the final challenge and signalled the end of our trip. Photo credit: Em GatlandWriting this, I am devastated that the adventure is over. Even the consolation of a real bed, clean clothes and no 5am wake up call are not enough to make me feel better. I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences I could ever have hoped for, and has been a privilege to participate.
  4. The final day’s ride was an 80km neutral stage from Jolivet in Highflats to Scottburgh. That start was a rolling start, so riders had the hour between 7 and 8am to get on their bikes and aim for the coast. After eight days of serious racing, the field was eager to get going and promptly raced off as the clock struck seven, but the winning teams used the opportunity to lie in and only rolled off just before 8am. Riders made their way through lush green fields of sugar cane on day 9 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c. Photo credit: Em Gatland. The idea of the ‘champagne” stage was to let riders enjoy their final moments at the Old Mutual joBerg2c without the worry of missing a cut-off, and to let them enjoy their last night in a joBerg2c race village. Most participants took advantage of the race’s day 8 finish and partied long into the night in Jolivet before stumbling back to tents beneath impressive macadamia trees. The joBerg2c’s official craft beer partner, Nottingham Road Brewery, did a roaring trade, and many riders started the champagne stage with Pickled Pig Porter or Tipsy Tiger IPA beer breath. Men’s champs Matthys Beukes and Phil Buys also took time to mingle with the evening revellers, further enhancing their reputations as likeable winners. The final challenge of the 900km ride from Heidelberg to Scottburgh was a short section across the famed floating bridge. Photo credit: Em Gatland. With nothing left to race for, the Lills, Buys, Beukes and other top riders like Grant Usher, Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck and Amy Beth McDougall all took the opportunity on day 9 to ride in the middle of the bunch, cruising to the finish later than they normally would. Day 9 was all about celebrating South Africa and the unique nature of the joBerg2c, the ride that takes people from all over the world all over South Africa’s beautiful countryside. All riders crossed the line elated, thrilled that they had achieved something life changing. Every rider was also presented with a special joBerg2c bottle of champagne. “This was a fantastic nine days,” said Erik Ramstad of Norway, after completing his 900km cycle. “I give it a 15 out of 10. Every stage was incredible. The day 8 ride was painful but we can’t complain, it was a marvellous experience. This was the first time I have been in South Africa for more than a few days, and it was an amazing way to see the country. I have lots of cycling friends at home, so I think next year you will see lots of Norwegians at the joBerg2c!” The winner of the solo women’s category, Siska Van Der Bijl, also enjoyed her nine day ride. “This is a tough race, make no mistake, but it was a great nine days of riding. It’s hard to pinpoint a particular highlight, because the earlier days seem so far away! But if I had to choose, I would go for the drop down to the Umkomaas on day 8, or day 4 from Sterkfontein to Em’seni, or just the way the scenery changes every day at this event. Overall, this is an awesome event. I’ve done a lot of them, but this has been one of the best.” Riders entered into the spirit of the final day 9 Old Mutual Wealth (Champagne) stage, enjoying a bottle of champagne at the end of the event. Photo credit: Em Gatland. Regular participant, Free State potato farmer and day 3 trail builder for the joBerg2c, Oupa Tshabalala, was happy to see the sea, and thrilled with his performance for the nine days. “It was brilliant,” said Tshabalala. “It’s almost unbelievable that we started 9 days ago in Heidelberg and that today is day 9 and we are now at the sea.” After thinking about it for a moment, he added, “Wow, what a ride, what an experience. It’s tough, hey. There are some long days at the joBerg2c; but the main thing of joBerg2c is the great team spirit. Everybody, from the riders to the water tables to the organisers, is just so happy to see you and wants to help you cross the finish line. It’s an incredible event.” You can find the Old Mutual Joberg2c results here.
  5. Riders head into the sunrise. Photo credit: Em Gatland We left the Mackenzie Club in a flurry of dust, riding straight into a pretty spectacular sunrise. With the famous Umkomaas drop a couple of kilometres into the stage, there was some serious jostling for position taking place. Often the signature trail on a route can be overrated, so secretly I wasn’t expecting much from the Umkomaas drop, but it totally over-delivered. We descended for an hour on manicured switchbacks with the most mind blowing view of the valley and the Umkomaas river below. The residents of the valley were all out to cheer us on and watch the show, creating a very festive atmosphere. Far too soon we were at the bottom, and the floating descent was over. The switchbacks carved into the Umkomaas Valley. Photo credit: Em GatlandWe followed the river via an undulating trail: I’m not sure where exactly we were at this point, but it was beautiful: pristine greenery, and the river so flat it was almost a mirror. After stuffing my face with chocolate and Coke at the first water point (it was just one of those days) we headed out again to tackle the Iconic climb. This was truly a beast: steep, rocky in places, and never-ending, we climbed 300 metres in 3 kilometres. Half an hour of vasbyt later and it was over, but the sting in the tail was five more kilometres of rolling district road with some painful climbs before the next water point. I’ve never been so pleased to see those flags. The Iconic climb took a toll. Photo credit: Em Gatland Luckily my legs had warmed up by now and I was able to enjoy the remainder of the ride quite comfortably. There were on or two more trail gems in store: including Sally’s Dance which had me sliding all over the show as I overcooked the corners with excitement, and threatened to hug a few trees. The timing finish was a couple of kilometres from the venue, to prevent riders from racing dangerously on Charlie's Catwalk next to a busy road, and it was a pleasure to roll into Jolivet unhurried. The race village at Jolivet. Photo credit: Em Gatland At Jolivet, the tents are set up in an orchard, and this keeps the tents cool, lends extra privacy and sound buffering, and gives the campsite a very relaxed tranquil atmosphere. With the racing over, and the Old Mutual Wealth “Champagne Stage” neutral stage taking us to the sea at Scottsburgh tomorrow the pressure is off. All that remains is to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the food and the company, and look forward to the last day on a bike exploring new terrain.
  6. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 8 images Another awesome collection of images from Em Gatland of Day 8 of the 2017 edition of the Old Mutual joBerg2c. Enjoy.
  7. South African MTB stars Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes sailed over the line to win day 8 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c, and claimed the event outright for the recently formed PYGA Euro Steel team. In their first joBerg2c - the race across South Africa that shows you the best the country has to offer in terms of scenery and heart - Buys and Beukes were dominant from day 4 of the nine-day ride, winning the final five days. Their winning machinery was proudly PYGA, and proudly South African. The team’s day 8 time was 3:32:11, with an overall race time of 29:51:02. Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) finished day 8 in third and finished the event second overall with a total time of 30:11:40. In the Lanham-Love Mixed Category Darren and Candice Lill (dormakaba) enjoyed an utterly dominant joBerg2c, and ruled their category from start to finish. They finished day 8 with a time of 3:59:05 and an overall time of 32:16:43. Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (Lanham-Love Valencia) finished seconds after dormakaba on day 8, with a stage time of 4:00:36 and an overall time of 32:40:06. The nine-day joBerg2c has slightly tweaked its format for 2017, with the last day of riding - the ninth day - now a neutral stage called the Old Mutual Wealth (Champagne) Stage. That means the winning results are provisional until all riders have completed the final day’s 80km ride from Jolivet to Scottburgh. The provisional winners shouldn’t have too many worries going into the final day, though, as they have around eight hours to complete the short, mostly downhill stage. "It's been another fantastic nine days at the Old Mutual joBerg2c," said Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand. "Every year the race villages get better, providing riders with everything and anything they could desire. The riders have said the route has been incredible too, so it's no surprise that this event continues to go from strength to strength. As a sponsor, we are thrilled to be involved in an endurance event that not only tests participants, but also shows them the beauty of the South African countryside. Well done to the winners, and well done to every rider that completes this one-of-a-kind mountain biking experience. We look forward to seeing you again in 2018!" Proudly South African victory Relieved and clearly elated, Matthys Beukes was happy to finish on top again today and without any major mechanicals over the last eight days. Photo credit: Em Gatland. “Today we made it count. We’ve waited the whole week for this day and if there is one day you can really race it’s this stage. There was some nice big climbing but first we just enjoyed the descent into the Umkomaas Valley and then we just hit that climb and pulled the gap from there and rode steadily,” said Beukes. He added that the unique aspect of crossing so much of the country during the joBerg2c was a definite event highlight. “My favourite aspect has definitely been the journey. First of all we came here to enjoy the ride and just experience something different and not just focus on super intense racing. I think we definitely got that out of joBerg2c; there is also some good prize money for first place and that’s really nice too.” Philip Buys explained that the win was a bonus on top of an incredible experience. “I think the whole track down here is just great. What’s nice about joBerg2c is that you see parts of the country that you don’t usually see. Being on a bike we took some time to see everything that there is to see on the route. I think it’s a cool race to see and experience our country and its hospitality. It was a fun experience for us.” The perfect mix Husband and wife team Candice and Darren Lill finished joBerg2c looking relaxed and happy. Competing as a couple, and winning as one too, has made joBerg2c a particularly special experience for them.“I count myself as very fortunate and blessed to be able to do something like this with Candice, I don’t think there are many people that can do anything competitively with their spouse and make it work well together under pressure,” said Darren Lill. “It is really special to be able to enjoy such a wonderful experience together - win or lose, but obviously it’s nice to win. Either way we were out here having a great time together giving our best each day.” Candice Lill was pleased with the pair’s dominant ride at the event. “Finishing joBerg2c undefeated does feel quite good. I mean, what fun we had… and such different stages. Even today, the changes made to the route were quite tough. I wasn’t expecting the new climbs to be so steep. Luckily we had a nice lead going into this stage and managed to keep it and we still had fun at the same time,” said Candice. Candice Lill added that there are many great aspects to joBerg2c, with some standing out to make the nine days truly memorable. “For me, my favourite part is the journey - the whole experience going through all the different towns and seeing how much it all changes, like going through the Free State and seeing all the towns and onto KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a magical all round experience.” The race organisers were thrilled with the 2017 event. Glen Haw noted that the joBerg2c is as tough as it is unique. "This event really showcases how special the country is, and takes people to some really unique places," said Haw. "But joBerg2c is not easy," he added. People think that because of the relaxed nature of the event, there is the misconception that it’s a tour - if you look at it and compare it on paper, I think this event is as hard as something as the Cape Epic. It's a challenge, but very rewarding." Craig Wapnick, meanwhile, added the joBerg2c attracts the right type of mountain biker, specifically, those that know how to enjoy themselves on and off the bike. "We are always trying to make it better," said Wapnick. "It’s a work in progress every year. But without great riders, you can’t have a great event. I think we are at a stage where we are attracting the right kind of rider; the people who like a challenge, who are fit enough to enjoy the 900km off-road mountain biking challenge, but who also want to sit around in the evenings and enjoy good beer and gees." The third of the energetic and enthusiastic joBerg2c organising team, Gary Green, said, "What we try to offer riders is a few great events all rolled into nine incredible days. Judging by the smiles I've seen after eight days of tough riding, it looks like we've achieved that and more in 2017." Entries for the 2018 Old Mutual joBerg2c will open in May. You can find the Old Mutual Joberg2c results here.
  8. The pace was fierce from the start as riders vied for a good spot on the much hyped single track. Photo credit: Em Gatland With a fair amount of single track on the cards B-batch were frothing, and we flew out along the district roads. I probably went a bit hard here because I felt flat for the rest of the day. The day was scattered with sections of flowing single track, mostly fairly flat, with some faster downhill sections. These were interspersed with district roads to cover the distance in between. The PG Bison floating bridge presents a unique challenge to riders. Photo credit: Em GatlandSome of the most fun sections included a windy super tube through green and mossy forest, before the PG Bison floating bridge, and some pretty legendary switchbacks in a forest in the middle of (what seemed to me) nowhere. Some of the least fun bits included my sluggish legs on the district roads and the few rolling hills at the end, just before the MacKenzie Club, which I wasn’t expecting (my own fault- I never check the route profile and tend to just wing it). Luckily it was over fairly quickly, after a bit of “vasbyt”. We were treated to sublime trails weaving through plantations. Photo credit: Em GatlandArriving before 12 am at the MacKenzie Club was a treat as it allowed some extra time for a power nap, after attacking the delicious lunch spread first. Power naps were the order of the day. Photo credit: Em Gatland. Tomorrow we ride to Jolivet (Highflats) including the legendary drop into the Umkomaas River Valley, and the terrifying climb out. Tomorrow is the last day of racing, as the final stage to Scottburgh is a neutral stage.
  9. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 7 images Another packed clip of Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 7 highlights. 82 kms from Glencairn to MacKenzie Club. Thanks, Em Gatland.
  10. The chasing pair of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) crossed the line battered and bruised in 3:01:47. In the Lanham-Love Mixed Category, it was a familiar story with dormakaba teammates Darren and Candice Lill finishing first, shortly followed by Lanham-Love Valencia riders Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall. Their times were 3:15:21 and 3:16:04 respectively. Stage winners and race leaders Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys (PYGA Euro Steel) arrive at Mackenzie Club on the penultimate race day. Credit: JoBerg2c. At the start of the day, riders asked for their eggs Sani side up in the picturesque Glencairn Farm setting on Sani Pass Road, with many sorry to leave the exquisite race village setting. But leave they did, and they were glad for it because day 7 of the joBerg2c is a mountain biker’s delight. Among those thankful for the shorter and more technical stage was Candice Lill, who enjoyed yet another strong day at the office despite tapping off the pace in preparation for tomorrow’s day 8. “It was a fun day with a lot of single track which we rode at quite a pace. Everybody thought it was going to be easy being shorter and flatter, which isn’t necessarily the case. So you still have to prepare yourself to go quite hard!” said Lill. For some added thrill, riders cross roughly 70 metres of floating PG Bison Bridge across Mossbank Dam. Credit: Em Gatland. Lanham-Love Valencia’s Grant Usher enjoyed yet another spectacular day on the bike, saying he and partner Amy Beth McDougall pushed hard but also had fun. “We had so much fun on the single track. Amy rode well and we fought really hard, but Candice and Darren have been doing a good job at putting pressure on us, especially at some of the climbs, just cracking us slowly,” said Usher. McDougall said she is feeling the strain in her legs, but is excited for the final official day of racing tomorrow. “Today we just tried to keep up with Darren and Candice. They’re really strong, especially Candice, she is just going so well. It’s really impressive to see how they’re riding, but every day we just gotta keep fighting.” NAD Pro MTB fall short of stage win In the men’s race, NAD Pro MTB rider Gawie Combrinck crashed shortly after the 63km mark. He finished with injuries to his upper-right thigh and forearm.“Just before the second water point on the big open road, I was behind Phil and my front wheel just got caught in a rut and I came off my bike. It was nice of the PYGA guys because they waited for me to get back on the bike,” said Combrinck. A battered and bruised Gawie Combrinck arrives with his chin up in Mackenzie Club on day 7. Credit: JoBerg2c. As for tomorrow being the final day to cut into PYGA Euro Steel’s massive lead, Combrinck said the task won’t be easy. He said, “Ag tomorrow we will just see how it goes and wing it.” PYGA Euro Steel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes are clearly relaxed going into the final official racing day with a 13-minute lead. “I thought Gawie was hurt quite badly but he looks like he is all fine now. We waited for them and checked to see if they were okay but they said we should keep on going. It was a good day with some nice racing for a bit. Between the four of us we threw some punches in the racing today, which was fun. I think it was at about the second last climb that I got a small gap and just rode on nicely to the end,” said Beukes. One of joBerg2c's finest runs himself into Mackenzie Club race village after his bike suffered a mechanical failure. Credit: Em Gatland. Philip Buys, renowned for his strong technical skills on the bike, said, “We made the most of the technical sections. There was lot of sweeping smooth corners among the single track. It was great fun, like riding on a roller coaster. We just stuck with NAD Pro MTB, and when they went a little harder we just stuck with them and they couldn’t really shake us. It’s nice to have that buffer going into the final racing day tomorrow.” With Saturday’s day 9 a neutral cruise to the coast, day 8 is the last day to jockey for position at the joBerg2c. Riders will tackle a 98km route that includes a joy-riding descent into the Umkomaas Valley – but then they’ll also have to climb out of it before reaching the penultimate race village at Jolivet in Highflats. A long, tough day awaits. British Army Team Four rider battles against the plight of a tough hill on joBerg2c. Credit: Em Gatland. You can find the Old Mutual Joberg2c results here.
  11. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 6 images Day 6's images from Em Gatland of the 2017 Old Mutual joBerg2c. They're great. Music courtesy of Mann Friday.
  12. The lead out from Clifton School. Photo credit: Em Gatland I knew it wasn’t going to be a great day for me when I had to reach for a gel five kilometres into the eight kilometre neutral section at the start. Damage control would be the order of the day. The neutral zone led straight into first climb: the infamous Gumtree climb. This started fairly casually, and gradually ramped up the intensity until we were on concrete strips that felt near vertical. It was a battle to keep the front wheel down, but I hate getting off and set myself the challenge to make it to the top. The Gumtree climb was a taxing start to the day. Photo credit: Em Gatland After refueling at the first water point, we were into the rolling farmlands until the drop into Harrison’s Pass. This was worthy of the hype, and I was fortunate to have it mostly to myself. You literally fly 300 metres down from the top of the world to the Nzinga River on the valley floor, via a series of switchbacks, with the whole valley spread out below you, and only the odd startled cow to deal with. Harrison's Pass snaking down the Nzinga River. Photo credit: Em GatlandCrossing the Nzinga River we then hit a gradual climb up to the next piece of single track heaven, the aptly named Rock 'n Roll. Here my luck ran out and I got stuck in a traffic jam of epic proportions as riders fell apart at the sight of rocks in the trail. Cue a very long rant about the skill levels of South African mountain bikers. This may ruffle some feathers, but it’s devastating that people put so much time and money into training for a race, and buying great equipment, but completely fail to address the fundamentals of riding a mountain bike. It is even sadder when said riders refuse to give way to faster riders on single track sections. Today I heard several excuses for not moving over, including: “everyone else is walking” and “I didn’t hear you” when I asked for track. I am no Greg Minnaar, so these riders must be going pretty slowly. I understand that not everyone has the confidence or desire to enjoy flow on a trail, but it is polite to move over when convenient, if requested. River crossings are part of the game. Photo credit: Em Gatland After the second water point, it felt like we climbed for a lifetime. The heat started to take its toll, and I ran out of water. We climbed up through the plantations, occasionally popping out into the open in what felt like Alpine terrain: pine trees surrounded by smooth grassy hills. Spinning it out was the order of the day, as I tried to occupy my mind with happy thoughts. The Sappi trails were smile-inducing. Photo credit: Em GatlandAt last we summited, and every second of climbing was made worthwhile by the wonderful descent on the Sappi Trails. We whizzed down trails with names like Shake it Off and Pine Sublime, full of pine needles, bermed corners, and fast open sections and endless endorphins. Another picturesque campsite at Glencairn Farm. Photo credit: Em Gatland From here it was pretty much a case of surviving the remainder of the ride, on rolling district road, and some grassy single track into Glencairn Farm.Tomorrow we have a “rest day” as we ride 83 kilometres to the MacKenzie Club along the exquisite Sani2c trails. Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 6 Highlights
  13. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes attack on the first major climb of the day. Photo credit: Em Gatland For the racing elite, Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes rested well at Clifton in Nottingham Road. Today, their fresh legs brought them home two seconds ahead of pre-race favourites, NAD Pro MTB with a time of 3:59:43. Further down the trail was the first of the Lanham-Love Mixed Category power couples, Candice and Darren Lill (dormakaba) with a time of 4:22:06. Buys and Beukes efforts on stage 6 saw the PYGA riders stay well ahead of NAD Pro MTB overall. The leading pair were fit and healthy on the day and saw no reason to try and extend their 12-and-a-half minute lead. “We took today as easy as possible. From now on there is some good climbing that suits us and we are looking forward to starting that,” said Matthys Beukes. “On the first climb today we raced with Nico and Gawie, and then we split up shortly after. But there are so many open roads in between, that it can split us up and bring us back together. In the last kilometres we started racing again and it got quite exciting!” said Beukes. Buys had a stronger day on the 98km ride, saying, “I feel a lot better today and it was some easy spinning. We didn’t do much, [NAD Pro MTB] did a lot of work. Matthys activated the sprint, but I think NAD also deserved the stage win because they really have been great. “I had a proper recover day yesterday and the guys from PYGA sorted us out with proper beds so we could get a good night’s rest. So we're feeling good to look after this nice lead.” Bell and Combrinck are resilient riders, but today just wasn’t meant to be for the NAD Pro MTB pair. “We gave it a go in terms of taking advantage of the climbs. That first hill Gawie went at it quite hard and the PYGA guys were drifting away and then they found their legs and caught us,” said Bell. “When they got to us I began to feel some strain so I took it easy and rode my own pace to the top, and then we all formed a group together with Road Cover and we just rolled on to the finish. There were some surges but no real attacks. We spent a lot of pennies chasing PYGA yesterday, so we didn’t want to overspend today.” Feeling realistic but undefeated, Combrinck expects a difficult challenge for the remaining days. “The gap is quite massive and tomorrow’s 80km stage isn’t really a day that you can make up time, but if you make a mistake you can lose a lot of time. It’s a stage that suits PYGA better because it’s very technical with lots of switchbacks. It’s a short punchy route that is pretty fast. So I think it’s going to be fun, but not a day that we can make up much time. Day 8 is the last day, so we have to gun it!” Dormakaba gets the mixture right Candice and Darren Lill enjoyed another strong day. Though they entered the race village of Glencairn looking relaxed, Candice said the riding was tough. “We did well at the start. When you get a bit of a gap on the first climb then you have to just try ride a good pace to keep it. From about 60-80km we just climbed and then even here at the end it’s more climbing. We didn’t want to go too deep but we managed to ride a good pace. There were some tough times but nothing major, it was a good day overall with some sweet trails.” Her husband Darren is happy to have found some nice consistency after a tough start to joBerg2c. “I think I’m slowly getting back into it. I struggled a little bit yesterday and I felt a bit better today and I expect to feel better over the next few days as the old legs kick in again. “The climbing suits us, especially with Candice being such a strong climber herself, so we just rode at our own tempo and managed to gap the mixed teams and ride easy in between. For us, if they come back then they come back - we have a pretty comfortable lead. Lanham-Love Valencia’s Amy Beth McDougall was out of breathe upon finishing and said it wasn’t easy out there. “Shoh, today was like a total roller coaster, I mean the dark places I went to today - I can’t even explain. I’m really just so tired! We did a lot of climbing so those descents were absolute heaven - so sublime. So I was switching between ecstasy and retreating into my pain cave! I’m quite strong on the descents so I am already excited for tomorrow. It should be super smooth, super fast single track.” Day 7 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c is something of rest day - a bright and breezy 80km from Glencairn Farm to McKenzie Club near Ixopo. The day is famous for it’s smooth single track, so riders will go to bed tonight with the prospect of a fun, fast, flowing day to come.
  14. Early into the 120km day from Em’seni in Winterton to Clifton Preparatory School in Nottingham Road, NAD Pro MTB experienced a flat, and then again later in the day shortly after water point three. PYGA Euro Steel's Philip Buys feeling the burn shortly before water point three.PYGA Euro Steel finished the day with a time of 4:15:50 while NAD Pro MTB came in third, 14 minutes after the winners with a time of 4:29:50. Road Cover riders Brendon Davids and Willie Smit finished second at 4:21:29. No mixing and matching Dormakaba’s Darren and Candice Lill continues to lead the Lanham-Love Mixed Category, stopping the clock on day 5 at 4:48:22, with Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (Lanham-Love Valencia) finishing second on the day in a time of 4:51:31.Dormakaba’s leading lady, Candice Lill said it was a positive day, before adding, “Wow, it was actually quite cold today, and this was the only stage that I had chosen not to wear arm warmers. Although, there was enough climbing to keep us warm. “We paced ourselves well and didn’t spend too much energy in the beginning - we knew all the big climbs were going to be at end and I can climb well, so I just rode my pace and kept it together.” Darren, her teammate and husband saw nothing wrong with the day apart from some tired legs. “I’m a bit tired but I feel pretty good actually. I’m just happy to keep the momentum going even though we took that start a bit easier today. We rode with the other two mixed teams and I’d say we stuck with Amy and Grant for the first 80km or so until the serious climbing started, and then we set our own tempo on the climbs and managed our effort from there to the line. I think our gap now must be fairly decent,” he said. Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 Highlights Despite Grant Usher’s strong ride for the Lanham-Love Valencia team, he confessed that the last few kilometres took it out of the duo and that the finish line was very welcome. “It was nice and cool out there. But sheesh, the bagpiper coming up the last climb and bit of single track - it really makes you forget about all the toiling early on! “It was a good day though and we rode in a nice group chilling a little bit and then Candice and Darren put the gas on with Nic White. They got a gap on us and despite our efforts of holding them, we just thought it wasn’t worth trying to chase back so we just consolidated again and enjoyed the day. “On the other hand we were super strong, we rode away from the other men’s teams - it’s insane I think we’re probably still top ten,” added Usher. Luck deserts NAD Pro MTB Over the first few days of the joBerg2c, PYGA Euro Steel have said they would wait patiently for an opportunity like lions on hunt. And hunting was good today in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.Though friendly with other top teams, Buys’ hunger for a win is more evident than ever. “We wanted to take it easy today, but then things changed. We had seen Nico and Gawie stop and we thought they were having a toilet break or something so we just rode easy and sort of waited for them, but they didn’t come back. Then, we upped the pace and started going faster and rode a bit with the Road Cover guys until they dropped off. We got quite a lead on them,” said Buys. Nico Bell follows Gawie Combrinck for NAD Pro MTB shortly before water point 3. One puncture done, one puncture to go. He praised the great effort of his teammate saying, “Matthys did well today, but I struggled a bit. Mentally I’ve just been a little tired and in my head I was prepared for an easy day but then it turned out to be tiring. I didn’t have a good recovery day yesterday and I bonked a bit on the last 10 kilometres and I suffered a little bit. From here on we are just going to try and look after the bikes. We don’t want to get any mechanicals” NAD Pro MTB’s poor luck today gave Road Cover a chance to cover some road, giving them the jump on Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell for the day. Brendon Davids said although they improved their time, it was a difficult day. “Willie (Smit) had some issues. We got away with the PYGA guys and put the pressure on after Nico and Gawie got a flat. And then shortly after Willie’s cleat came loose so we had to stop at water point one to fix it, but it kept coming loose most of the way to the finish.” However, it wan’t enough to slow Road Cover down too much, as they move into second overall behind PYGA Euro Steel, with NAD Pro MTB dropping from first to third. Road cover rider Willie Smit shortly before water point three for a quick fix of his cleat. Road Cover rider Brendon Davids sprung a leak at water point three. If they want to catch up on day 6, they’ll have to work hard on the 98km stage from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in Underberg. It’s a day that includes lots of climbing once again, including a particularly nasty bump named Gumtree Climb, because halfway up you’ll want to sell your bike on the classifieds website. Find the full results from Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 here.
  15. Tent life has become a routine by now. Photo credit: Em Gatland.The morning starts as I wake up before my alarm, sometime between 4 and 5 am, to the rustling of my tent neighbours. I head to Seattle coffee and drop off my cup in the coffee queue. Then it is time to try desperately to eat breakfast: this is about the only time in my life where food doesn’t go down easily. Usually, at this point, I am convinced that I won’t make it twenty kilometres into the coming stage, and breakfast wants to come back for a second round. Early mornings are not my thing. Luckily the coffee perks me up, and then it’s time to collect my bike from the bike park and hope that everything is still working. A lot of rustling, swearing and seeking for clean lycra then occurs before I hoist my bag to the luggage truck. Usually, I am late for the start, and end up tucking in somewhere near the back of the batch. Start line banter eases the nerves. Photo credit: Em Gatland Today we headed out almost straight into some awesome bushveld trails, a part of the Berg and Bush route. These set a good precedent and kept me fizzed for the coming district road slog. Water point 1 was stocked with so many treats that I had trouble fitting them all in my pockets. Determined not to end up on my own in no man’s land again: I clung to a passing group like a Jack Russell terrier, while simultaneously stuffing my face with date balls. This helped keep me occupied and make the somewhat uninteresting kilometres to water point 2 pass quickly. Then the climbing really started: it was a relief to climb, simply for the change of movement on the bike, and it came with changing scenery, as we edged closer to the Drakensberg mountains. There was no single killer climb, rather a series of rolling hills with some fast, open jeep track descents in between. We headed into the lush green Natal Midlands. Photo credit: Em Gatland Soon we were into the lush green farmland of the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands. The total change of landscape from the morning's bushveld made me appreciate the distance we had covered during the day. Bagpipes welcomed us to the finish at Clifton School, Nottingham road. A quick single track descent through the forest brought us down to the school on a high note. The enthusiasm of the Clifton school children made for a very warm welcome. Photo credit: Em Gatland.The welcome at the finish took things to the next level: the Clifton School children were standing by with water and chocolate milk, and I was inundated with offers of help to carry my bag to my tent, take my bike to be washed, and show me where the showers were. Things only got better when I saw the tea table groaning under a pile of cakes in the lunch hall. Well fed and watered, I hope tomorrow goes smoothly as we ride 98 kilometres to Glencairn Farm with 2022 metres of climbing. The campsite at Clifton School is nothing short of scenic. Photo credit Em Gatland. Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 Highlights
  16. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 5 Images Day 5s images from Old Mutual joBerg2cs camera genius, Em Gatland. Music courtesy of Mann Friday.
  17. The Sterkfontein Dam was impressive in the early morning light. Photo credit: Em Gatland To avoid some dangerous road crossings, the start point was 6 kilometres from the camp, which gave us a chance to warm up and admire the sunrise over the dam. Today, we started in batches due to the high percentage of single track making the start a less frenetic affair than the previous days. From the start, we had several kilometres of rolling farm roads to dice for a favourable spot on the trails. It turned out that these efforts were in vain as a snaking queue of riders soon formed on the first singletrack climb. Fortunately, this was the last congestion of the day, and things spread out as soon as we hit the edge of the escarpment. I can’t do justice to the views or the experience of riding the trails that wound their way along the cliffs of the escarpment. You literally feel on top of the world with the green plains of Kwa-Zulu Natal stretched out below you. The single track undulates, giving you a chance to recover between climbs and enjoy the view. The escarpment feels like the edge of the world. Photo credit: Em GatlandThe descent down Bezuidenhout’s Pass was breathtaking: fast, loose jeep track scattered with the odd donga and loose rocks to keep you on your toes. With all this excitment, we arrived at the first water point before I knew it. From here, we hit some more farm roads, I managed to stick with a group for a change and the kilometres ticked by pretty quickly to the second water point. Highlights of todays waterpoints included ice cream, and a splash pool for cooling off. Photo credit: Em Gatland.Then we were onto some more proper mountain biking trails: not a building or road in sight. These trails form part of the Berg and Bush route, and I can see why the event is so popular. The feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a few perplexed cows for company is priceless. The trails wound up and down: just enough down to keep the gees high with plenty of high-speed flow and make the climbs worthwhile. The final water point came and went in a flash, and then we were onto the aptly named "Long Drop". One of the most ridiculously fun trails I have had the privilege to ride in an event. Berms, jumps, fast switchbacks, and bridges resulted in well over 10 minutes of pure endorphins. The Long Drop descent. Photo credit: Em Gatland Still buzzing, I can't even bring myself to worry about the monster stage coming tomorrow where we will ride 123 kilometres to Clifton school, with over 2000 metres of climbing. Watch the daily highlights video You can follow the race on the live timing hereResults can be viewed here
  18. A nail biting finish between PYGA Euro Steel and NAD Pro MTB. Photo credit: joBerg2c. Day 4 of the joBerg2c provided some spectacular scenery and racing. This stage is an African evolution, with riders leaving Sterkfontein Dam in the Free State and making their way into KwaZulu-Natal for the first time in the race. Over the course of the 93km ride, farm lands turned to bushveld, while the gentle hills of the first three days have matured into mountains. In the riding to come, the climbing will have the final say. For the racing elites, Matthys Beukes enjoyed the exciting dash where PYGA Euro Steel and NAD Pro MTB finished amongst each other, NAD Pro taking the win by virtue of their riders crossing the line in first and third. Beukes explained the close end, “The end could possibly have been different, because Phil had a bit of a crash on the last downhill which gave Nico and Gawie time to catch up to us again. It was also difficult to get past them on those fast sections towards the finish.” Buys was lucky to escape injury, as was his bike. “I crashed in the last section. I was riding in the front and just pushed it around the corner just before a bridge. I made the corner but as I got on the bridge my rear wheel just slipped out. I fell off with about a metre to go on the bridge, and I landed up falling off it and had to grab a tree and my bike fell further down. It took me some time to get it back up.” With four days of racing to come (day 9 is another neutral stage), Beukes said it’s now time to unleash the beast, “The routes are getting more technical, but for us it’s still not technical enough. It’s time to start taking every opportunity and chase hard. We’re waiting to get to the bigger climbs…” Mixing it up In the Lanham-Love Mixed category, it was another great day for Candice and Darren Lill (dormakaba), who crossed the line first in a time of 3:08:29. It was their third straight state win. Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (Lanham-Love Valencia) arrived shortly after dormakaba in a time of 3:13:01. Power couple of the mixed category Darren and Candice Lill (dormakaba) cross the line in KZN to continue their winning streak. Photo credit: joBerg2c. The Lills have shown no signs of weakness and it appears their fondness of the joBerg2c is powering them through. “Another positive ride, but again it’s never easy when you’re racing. We were fortunate to take advantage of Candice’s strong start this morning,” said Darren Lill. “Racing was close between us and Lanham-Love Valencia until we managed to get a lead on them. We didn’t break away, I think they just fell back a little,” said Darren. Candice Lill, said the day 4 route was incredible and came as a welcomed change. “It’s changed this year and is definitely a little shorter - which doesn't necessarily make it easier. They have kept some of the sneaky climbs towards the end which are great, but tricky too.” While maintaining their competitive edge, Lanham-Love Valencia treated day four as a sentimental day. A reflective Grant Usher explained the emotional ride today, “We were just thinking how lucky we are. It’s such a privilege for anyone riding with their life partner like Amy and I - just to share an experience like this. Especially on a day like this, heading into bushveld; it’s really African, riding past aloes, acacia trees and game. Lanham-Love Valencia rider Grant Usher leads his teammate and partner in life, Amy McDougal across the finish after an emotional day. Photo credit: joBerg2c. “It’s great for other riders, particularly the foreigners as they must surely feel like they’re in Africa now. It’s been one of my favourite days on the bike ever,” said Usher. The couple have fond memories of success in this part of KwaZulu-Natal and spent much of their ride remembering their special times in the region. “It’s hugely special for Amy. Winterton is where she won the Single Speed World Champs in 2012 and she’s got the tattoo to prove it. So this day is always very special for Amy but also for us, and all the single speeders,” said Usher. Usher added that both he and Amy turned their thoughts to fallen friend and fellow rider, Burry Stander, who won the men’s Single Speed World Champs in 2012. “Today we really tried to remember Burry. He is, for us, the evergreen single speed champion, and he will forever be undefeated, so this is a very special place for him as well.” Day 5 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c is the big one, 123km journey from Em’seni in Winterton to Clifton school in Nottingham Road. The day also features the most climbing of any of the race days, with the last 30km featuring the bulk of the hills. Riders will enjoy the sight of the day 5 finish line. Find the full Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 4 results here. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 4 highlights
  19. Riders made their way from a chilly start in Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam. The day was challenging with lots of pedaling along the flat 125km long stretch. The route also came with a sting in the tail where riders faced off with Mount Paul – a tough climb with a welcomed descent. Winners of the day were PYGA Euro Steel with a time of 4:29:28. Credit: Em Gatland. Overall winners on the 125km stage from Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam were Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes for PYGA Euro Steel (4:29:28). Just half-a-minute behind were flying Dutchmen Gerben Mos and Bram Rood (KMC Fruit to Go, 4:30:06). NAD Pro MTB’s Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck fell behind on the stage and finished third (4:30:43). In the Lanham-Love Mixed Category, Darren and Candice Lill (dormakaba) were first home again in a time of 4:45:27. Johan Labuschagne and Catherine Williamson (The Bicycle Company Mitas) followed shortly thereafter (4:46:47) with the Team Garmin riders of Yolandie du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel riders filling the final spot on the mixed category podium with a time of 5:09:14. The mixing bowl Darren Lill says he owes the stage win to Reitz’s famous mielie brood, “It must have been that! The aim was actually to take today fairly conservatively - it was a long day with a long way to race still. Because we had a bit of a gap from yesterday we didn't have as much pressure today. Lanham-Love Mixed Category leaders Darren and Candice Lill cross the line to extend their lead over The Bicycle Company Midas. “At about the 80km Amy (Beth McDougall - Lanham-Love Valencia) had a problem with her saddle so we just kept the same speed and didn't want to over commit with there being a lot of racing still to come.” Candice Lill reflected on the day as being long and challenging, but with positives. She described the route as flat and endless, “There is lot of open road with lots of hard sections of single track in between spots where you had to fight, so it was a good balance.” She added that now is not the time to get complacent as things can change quickly at the joBerg2c. At this point last year, the Lills were sitting in the race doldrums, yet they clawed their way back to win the event. Although Williamson and Labuschagne finished in second spot for the mixed category on day 3, she felt a little worse for wear at the finish line - again, the non stop pedalling taking its toll on the riders. “I’m absolutely broken and I’m really glad that this is the end of the flatter terrain with all the pedalling. To be honest though, I don’t think there is an opportunity to make up for lost time because I’m not climbing as well as the other two girls, and that’s where I’m dropping off a bit,” said Williamson. However, tomorrow she will enjoy a wonderful descent as the race heads off the escarpment and into KwaZulu-Natal. If there is any consolation for a tough day at the office, Williamson has been revelling in the mixed category’s healthy competition, “You can be competitive on the bike, but we actually all get on so well in the mixed category.” A rider takes advantage of the food at a water point. That’s a mouthful! Credit: Em Gatland. The men have a mixup of their own On the approach to Mount Paul, KMC Fruit to Go held a four minute lead over PYGA Euro Steel. Come the dam wall and Buys and Beukes were in front of the early stage runaways. “It was a long open day and I think everybody waited for the last climb with about 20km to go, and from there we just split it to get a gap and we just rode steady on to the finish,” said Beukes. Buys added, “The win makes up for the terrible luck yesterday. Today was a lot of open flat roads, but we studied the race profile and found a little kink here towards the end.” PYGA Euro Steel riders Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, arrive steadily across the finish line in first to remedy their misfortunes for yesterday. He continued that KMC Fruit to Go have been a welcome surprise and is great for the men's category, “We weren’t expecting KMC to be a hassle. We saw that they didn't stop at the second water point and that’s where they capitalised. We didn't really chase them until the last 20km when we put the hammer down.” Bram Rood commented that it was a fun stage, and showed the team’s ace up their sleeve; a camel pack. “We didn’t stop at water point two, because we have these! But I must admit, after about 60km we were alone, so it was hard riding. “At the top of the climb we received word that we had a four minute lead over Philip and Matthys. But on the final climb and descent they were just too fast.” Tomorrow the racing will test the leaders’ technical skills as day 4 takes the joBerg2c off the escarpment and into KwaZulu-Natal. Highlights include Great Wall My China, the descent down Bezuidenhout’s Pass, and the final 20km of single track heaven into the finish at Emseni. You can find the full results from Old Mutual joBerg2c Day 3 here. Old Mutual joBerg2c Day 3 Highlights:
  20. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 3 Images Another great days images from the camera of Old Mutual joBerg2c camera genius, Em Gatland. Enjoy.
  21. Once again the day started with a neutral zone of about seven kilometres, before we were into the farmlands. Rolling grassy farm roads, interspersed with some cheeky single track sections. The kilometres rolled by briskly until the first water point, and from here headed out onto yet more rolling farm roads. I spent the time mostly alone, tagging onto bunches where possible. The water points were overflowing with Vrystaat hospitality. Photo credit: Em Gatland By the second water point at 60 kilometres, my koeksuster levels were starting to dip, and I was happy to refuel with the assistance of the volunteers for the Reitz East Farmers Association/ Reitz Oos Boere Vereeniging. The koeksusters took their time to kick in, and I experienced a mini-bonk entering the Jabulani single track at 76 kilometres, which wound its way through willow trees alongside a mirror-like river. Luckily, I was able to pedal it out and pull myself together by the end of the single track. After which we had yet some more rolling farm roads to deal with before the third water point. I was nearly brought to tears by a group farm labourers supporting the race. The women were so excited to see a female rider and ululated and cheered so loudly, I was really touched. It provided some much-needed motivation and reminded me how privileged I am to be out here doing an event like this. The support along the route has been unwavering. Photo credit: Em GatlandThis was last of the mielie fields for the day, and although beautiful, I was grateful for the change of scene that followed. After another refuel at waterpoint 3, we headed out towards the main climb for the day: Mount Paul. We were now entering the sort of terrain that makes me happy to be riding a bike: winding cattle trails through the foothills of a mountain range, with a gentle climb in sight, and the promise of awesome views and a fun descent. I was ecstatic to have the trails mostly to myself and be riding through uncultivated land, dodging cows. At this point, I wondered why the organisers had described the last 25 kilometres as tough. This was the kind of riding I signed up for! The euphoria carried me up the winding single track climb on Mount Paul, and down the sublime descent on the other side. The views of Sterkfontein dam from the top are reward enough but the descent is the cherry on top. Flowing, fast, and packed with small kickers/ speed bumps to pop off. I grinned the whole way down. The views from the top of Mount Paul were worth the ride. Photo credit: Em GatlandI then found out exactly why people warned me about the last few kilometres. The Sterkfontein dam wall was a truly dark place: flat, bumpy and with a raging headwind. All my gees evaporated and I nursed myself across the line as comfortably as possible. The sign of a proper day out. Although beautiful, the ride around the dam wall was a struggle at the tail end of a 125 kilometre day. Photo credit: Em Gatland Tomorrow we drop down the escarpment and into Kwa-Zulu Natal, riding 93 kilometres, to Emseni. The route appears to be packed with single track, and if the riding around Mount Paul was anything to go by, it should be an epic day out! Watch the daily highlights video You can follow the race on the live timing hereResults can be viewed here
  22. Old Mutual joBerg2c 2017 Day 2 Pictures Another great day through the lens of Em Gatland on the 2017 edition of the Old Mutual joBerg2c.
  23. The Wilge River was once again our companion on the journey out of Frankfort. Photo credit: Em Gatland Luckily we were able to drop unwanted layers at the Subaru strip zone at the first water point, so there was no pressure to wear only the bare minimum. The first 5 kilometres were a neutral zone through the town of Frankfort and out via the golf course. This provided an opportunity for the field to spread out comfortably, and ease some of the congestion that comes with the large single batch start. After exiting Frankfort, we followed the Wilge river on jeep track, before heading out into the heart of the Free State farmlands. We hit the first proper section of single track, a fun, flowy descent referred to as “Hou Duim Vas”. The fizz from this carried me to the first water point hosted by the Skewerkop Boere Vereeniging/Farmers Association, where we were once again greeted with incredible hospitality by the local farmers. It never ceases to amaze me how the volunteers at the water points can’t seem to do enough to help the riders. They fill your bottles, offer to fetch food, and generally offer you all the support you could hope for. Vast wheat fields provided the majority of the scenery on day 2. Photo credit: Em GatlandMy ride from water point 1 to water point 2 was a solo jeep track slog, through rolling wheat and mielie fields. I struggle to hold onto bunches, and find the effort involved in the inevitable surges too costly, especially when faced with another seven days of racing. So I pedalled along at my own pace, enjoying the scenery. The most impressive thing about the Free State scenery for me is the sheer vastness of the sky- without looming mountains, the horizon is open in every direction. This openness, and the sense of freedom it brings served as a constant reminder of how lucky I am to be on my bike pedalling through these farmlands on a perfect Autumn morning. It is a bucket list experience. After water point 2, we hit another awesome rolling single track section, which raised my spirits, and kept me going until the Boerbull descent with Reitz visible in the distance. This was a cheeky, rocky, flowing trail, and a welcome opportunity to stop pedalling and relax for a bit. Several muddy river crossings made sure our drivetrains knew all about today's stage. Photo credit: Em Gatland On the climb to Hoërskool Reitz, our destination for the night, we passed the Husky Romi Wolf Sanctuary. Where the unexpected sight of the wolves alongside the trail was another first experience for me. The Husky Romi Wolf Sanctuary. Photo credit: Em Gatland At Hoërskool Reitz we were welcomed by a shower, and lunch, and the opportunity to make the most of the slightly shorter stage to rest up, and get ready for tomorrow’s monster 122 kilometre ride to Sterkfontein Dam. The race village at Hoërskool Reitz. Photo credit: Em Gatland Watch the daily highlights video You can follow the race on the live timing here https://www.instagram.com/p/BTMSGfqgoU1/
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