Quintin van Jaarsveld
A cracking KwaZulu-Natal South Coast course awaits riders in the national enduro double header in Umzumbe on 10-11 August.
Anticipation is mounting as the countdown continues for rounds four and five of the National Enduro Championship.
South Africa’s enduro elite are eager to unleash their machines on South Coast soil, regarded by many riders and experts as the best riding terrain South Africa has to offer.
It’s been over a decade that the breeding ground of stars like Wade Young (Sherco Factory Racing), fresh off a historic Red Bull Romaniacs win, Blake Gutzeit (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha Racing), South Africa’s first-ever superenduro world champion, Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha Racing) and Scott Bouverie (Brother Leader Tread KTM) has staged national enduro racing, and the track that’s been prepared looks set to be worth the wait.
Two blockbuster back-to-back days of racing will get underway with Round Four of the national championship on Friday, 10 August.
The action will start and finish at The Park, a brand new venue on the Van Tichelen farm that’ll be buzzing with pit crew and petrolhead excitement.
The biggest names in South African enduro will battle it out on a 28-kilometre course that flows through five farms.
Course setters Greg and Dennis Henderson – with the help of course crew members Josh, Matt and Guy Henderson, Kevin, Dylan and Damien Cox, Chris and Gary Massey and Cameron McBean – have put together a rugged rollercoaster that’ll test riders’ fitness, skill and heart.
“All of our preparation has gone according to plan and everything is on track so to speak,” Greg Henderson told eHowzit.
“We’ve set a tight and technical course that we think the riders will really enjoy and be challenged by at the same time. They can expect a lot of riverbeds and single paths, one or two road sections to catch their breath and some testing up and downhills.
“We anticipate the top riders to take it in their stride and do between five and six hours of riding, and the intermediate guys will have a tough challenge.”
Altus de Wet, the dedicated route director of the National Enduro Championship, is extremely impressed with the course.
“This is going to be a real treat for the riders,” said De Wet. “The track is very tight, which makes it very safe. You almost get the feeling of riding on an illegal mountain bike trail, and we all know how nice those are to ride.
“This track gives you a really good mix of everything. There is rocky riverbeds, sandy sections, challenging off cambers and the most beautiful forest single tracks. It gives me that ‘wow’ feeling and after each section, you feel like you want to go do it again.”
The track starts with a technical and gnarly rocky gully dropping down from the pit area into a wide riverbed section called “The Tunnel of Love.” Riders will have lots of lines to pass, however, they’ll have to be wary of a few deep water holes.
It exits at “Jean’s Bridge”, a rocky cascade under the bridge, up a causeway. The track then flows through a Macadamia orchid and drops into the river valley and up a flowing, technical section, which exits into a single track through a forest down “Billy’s Bush.”
After this steep downhill, riders will have to scale “Vine Snake” onto a road and drop down “Snake Bite”, a narrow rocky gully that exits up a steep hill.
Riders are then afforded some momentary respite on a road before they drop back into the river valley. Up next is “Porcupine Creek” and a short road section, which makes way for “Chris’ Cartwheel”.
Then it’s back into the river valley, up another hill onto a road before reaching the “It’s Gnarly” downhill, which flows through “Dwarf’s Bush”. A final tester awaits in the form of “The Grumpy Bush Pig” gully before riders hit the home stretch.
Round Five of the national championship on Saturday, 11 August will be contested on a reverse route and doubles as the regional championship finale.
Event organisers, the Natal WFO Enduro Association, encourages riders and their support crews to contact 082 412 7917 and 073 990 3698 for accommodation requirements in the area.
To enter and for more information, visit www.racecontrol.co.za.
Photo: Kyle Flanagan (Bidvest bLU cRU Yamaha Racing) is one of several local riders who’ll be in action. (Daniel Coetzee/www.zcmc.co.za)