Mountainbike: Berg & Bush
Entries are closing soon for the 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush. Both three-day events – the Descent and the Great Trek – and the original 2-Day are almost at capacity, proving that the popularity of this unique KwaZulu-Natal mountain bike experience endures. It’s not just the sublime trails of Berg & Bush that appeals to riders around South Africa, but also the passion and attention to detail shown by event organiser Gary Green and his friendly crew.
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.
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).
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.