Mountain Biking Mecca
Many of the most extreme endurance events in South Africa are hosted in Mpumalanga, including hiking, climbing, assault courses and water-based activities, but the most prevalent of all the events, throughout the year, are the many mountain bike races.
The region’s topography lends itself perfectly both to leisure and competition cycling with numerous events taking place throughout the year both on the Highveld and the Lowveld and, in the case of some of the toughest races, meandering up and down between the two, resulting in some gruelling climbs and exhilarating high-speed descents.
Here are a few examples and dates for the diary:
The new Demacon Max Wax Series is currently underway and includes spectacular cycling around White River in the Lowveld and Dullstroom, high in the hills, with the innovative possibility of winning prizes based on your power to weight ratio, as well as the usual long route and high-speed lap races.
The popular Mopani series will take place as usual between May and September and will include both a road cycling race and a mountain bike duel.
The Vodacom Hippo Hollow race takes place in Hazyview on 1st June with the added thrills arising from bumping not only into cattle and numerous buck, but also possibly even into elephants.
August sees the annual Nkomazi MTB challenge which weaves in and out of the mountains and farms around Malelane. As is usually the case with such events, there is a range of different distances for all age groups, from a 10-kilometre track to a much more challenging 65-kilometre route.
If you just feel like getting out there and hitting some trails on your own, then why not try one of these popular cycling venues:
Mankele Mountain Biking Park is next to Sudwala Caves in the hills to west of Nelspruit/Mbombela and features everything from an adventure zone, through a variety of lengths of trail, peaking with a 55km route with an ascent of 1200m. Chalets and a camping ground are available on site.
White River also boasts numerous plantation-based trails throughout the year, offering a variety of routes to suit the whole family and the more competitive cyclist. But White River is not alone. Google just about any town in Mpumalanga and add the word ‘cycling’ and some or other thrilling event will almost certainly pop up.
Mountain-biking is one of the fastest-growing sports in the country, and Mpumalanga has almost endless opportunities to keep those enthusiasts enthralled.
So load up your bicycle or arrange to hire one, and get yourself to Mpumalanga for unforgettable scenic cycling on a level you have never seen before, all marked out for you and ready to ride.
Article credit: Mpumalanga Media Liaison Group.
Image credit: Cycling SA