Photos by Erik Vermeulen
DAY 1, 18 May 2017: Day one of the inaugural Trail & Trout 3-day MTB Stage Race is done and dusted. The 60-strong field started out from the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, peddling hard on fresh legs through rolling grassland teeming with game – their destination: Race Village 1 at the De Villa Lodge, 83 km away on the banks of the Olifants River.
Sunrise gave way to clear skies and a crisp autumn morning, but it didn’t stay chilly for long. In no time temperatures hit the mid 20’s as the field settled into their long ride, following a combination of single track and jeep track through farmland and breathtaking countryside. The only real “bite of the day” being Granny Hill – a 3.4 km long drag up a gravel road at the 38 km mark. Fortunately, Water Table 3 was positioned halfway up, giving tired riders a chance to rest their legs and take in the scenery.
With the big climb of the day behind them, riders were rewarded with spectacular views over the Loskop Valley once they topped the ridge. From there, they were treated to an incredible 17 km ride through the Loskop Nature Reserve, before crossing the Olifants River and entering the first overnight stop of the race.
Fully aware that Stage 2 will be the toughest day of the event – with riders having to haul themselves out of the Loskop Valley up to the Mpumalanga Highlands – competitors took the opportunity to get a well-deserved massage, chill and build up their strength for the next day’s heavy ride. – (c) 2017 NavWorld
Stage 1 in numbers:
Distance: 83 km
Total ascent: 1 049 m
Total descent: 1 449 m
Steepest hill: +12.2% (at 33.3 km)
Steepest downhill: -15.6% (at 69.03 km)
Longest uphill: 3.42 km (at 38.79 km)
Longest downhill: 3.60 km (at 67.05 km)
Highest point: 1 458 m (at 59.58 km