Maxine du Plessis
With nerves floating in the air along with the well-known mist of Sabie, MTB riders lined up for all the different stages on March 29th, 30th and 31st for the annual Sabie Experience.
With Land Rover as the title sponsor of this year’s Sabie Experience, the mountain bikers were sure that the diverse terrain through the forests and around the town of Sabie would be challenging. Headed up by dealer principal Christo Leeuwner and supported by Zantelle Bruwer, Nelspruit Landrover brought a new dimension to the event and made it even more inclusive for supporters and kiddies waiting for family members to finish each day.
Entries for the different stages included pro riders, amateur racers and recreational riders, all of whom were looking forward to the legendary forest trails on the landholdings of Safcol Ecotourism and York Timbers surrounding Sabie. “Without the kind permission of York Timbers and Safcol Ecotourism, the race would not be possible,” Joy Comley said.
Starting at Floreat Riverside Lodge, the excitement was high and the vibe extraordinary. Old and young scurried around to make sure they were warmed up and their bikes were set for the races to come. Liqui Moly provided daily free bike washes for each participant and tech zone Products at every refreshment station. “Merry Pebbles sponsored dinner for the whole crew every night, making sure that the crew were well-fed and rested for the next day,” Sandy Korb, an organiser said. Valencia Nelspruit sponsored goody bags and printed maps, ensuring the MTB racers didn’t get lost.
The Solo Challenge, Team Lite and the Fun Ride were the three different MTB races in which riders could compete. The Solo Challenge and Team Lite had three different stages that were held over the course of the three days of the Sabie Experience. The Solo Challenge was for the advanced amateurs and Pro riders. These riders experienced very steep climbs and much tougher and longer routes up to altitudes of 2100m. Team Lite was for Intermediate, Youth, and Junior riders, also with steep climbs and advanced single tracks. The 18km Fun Ride held on the 30th of March were offered for beginners and intermediate riders to join in the MTB fun.
Representatives of the five charities, Mountain of the Lord Ministries, Ubuntu, Sabie Mast, Home of Hope and Sabie CANSA worked with the local companies at the refreshment stations and each received a donation. All proceeds from the Fun Ride were donated to Home of Hope, a local charity for orphans or homeless children.
“Thank you to all the sponsors – Landrover Nelspruit, Liqui Moly, Valencia, Sabie Brewing Company, Petena’s Pancakes, Wimpy, Husqvarna, Wilde Vy, Soapreme Clean, Van Heerden Pharmacy and Numbi Ford – who made it possible, all the Refreshments stations and local companies that manned them, everyone involved in managing and making the race happen and lastly a very big thanks to all the riders who came from far and wide to take part in the race!”