Berg will come alive with cyclists

The Berg will be alive with the sounds cycling this weekend as the two cycle events at the Drakensberg Extravaganza take centre stage on the opening weekend of the 10-day multicultural festival in the Bergville region of KZN.

The cycling action starts on Saturday morning with the Drakensberg Extravaganza Mountain Bike race giving participants a taste of some of the spectacular trails which criss-cross the Champagne Valley. Then the road riders have a chance to take in some incredible scenery in the foothills of the Berg as they complete a circular route starting and finishing in Bergville on Sunday.

The trails which are to be used by the mountain bikers and trail runners are well used and offer some fast, flowing and scenic singletrack. Photo: Gavin Ryan / QuikPix/

The 10-day festival of cultural and sporting events takes place in the Bergville and Champagne Valley region of KwaZulu-Natal and offers visitors a wide choice of activities ranging from sporting events — such as the off-road and on-road cycling, trail running, a marathon and golf — to cultural entertainment which includes an indaba, a business fair, poetry readings, music and fashion shows.

The Extravaganza started on Thursday and runs over two weekends with trail running, mountain biking and road cycling the highlight of the opening weekend.

The mountain biking event will be held in conjunction with a trail runs on Saturday and will start and finish at the magnificent Champagne Sports Resort complex.

Gavin Ryan, the well-known KZN trail builder who has been one of the driving forces behind the Howick trail network, has designed the off-road events for both cyclists and runners. The trail run offers runners a choice of 5km and 10km distances, while the mountain bikers can chose from 5km, 10km and 20km routes.

“We have gone out of our way to try and make the mountain biking trails suited to family participation,” said Ryan last week. “None of the routes are too technical and difficult, but they should be fun and entertaining for all levels of riders. There are some magnificent trails already criss-crossing the Champagne Valley so all I have had to do is link them up.

“The fact they are already well-used means they are well bedded down and should provide riders with a smooth and entertaining ride.

“The route is predominantly in the forest area, using forest roads and routes in the trees. About 40% of the longer route is singletrack. There is only one really serious climb in the 20km, but riders are well rewarded with some flowing trail after that.

“The weather forecasts look great as well. There is no rain predicted and the weather does not look too hot so it should be perfect riding conditions.”

Sunday’s Drakensberg Extravaganza Road Race offers participants a choice of a short 15km fun ride, an intermediate 40km or an 84km test. The start and finish of all events is in Bergville with the 84km riders completing a loop around the picturesque Woodstock Dam before heading back to Bergville and finishing with a fast final 25km on the R74.

KZN Cycling’s Kelvin du Sart said last week he expected the event to provide some exciting racing and he anticipated the event growing into a must-do event.

“The 84km route for this race provides a nice mix of terrain for the riders and I believe this could become a major event on the provincial cycling calendar,” said the Westville Cycle Club Chairman. “There is enough climbing to test both the strength and fitness of the top riders, but not some much that it will make the race too tough for the average cyclist looking to have a safe and fun ride.”

Online pre entries have closed, but late entries will be taken at all events on the day. The mountain bike and trail running events start from 8.30am on Saturday and the road races get underway from 6.30am. There is full road closure for the road events.

For more information contact Michelle on 084 407 5566 or Kelvin on 082 446 9833.